The “Bank of the Unbankables” surpassed its 2003 new-investment goal of $1 million through the efforts of church members and religious groups across the globe.
Oikocredit USA is an international Christian credit organization that was established by the World Council of Churches in 1975 to fight poverty by making credit available to the poor in developing countries.
Investors to Oikocredit, 86% of whom are Christian, share their resources through socially responsible investments, and empower disadvantaged people with credit. Much of the money will be used to provide low-cost loans to cooperatives and microcredit banks in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
The largest investor to Oikocredit was the Church of Sweden; the second largest was the Presbyterian Church USA.
“We often think of gifts and grants as the way to help people living in poverty, but often credit is what is most needed,” said Rev. Gary Cook, the chair of Oikocredit’s board of directors. “With the loans available through Oikocredit, poor people can develop the means to support themselves, their families and their communities.”
The East Liberty Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, PA, under the pastoral guidance of Rev. Cook, is 2003’s largest congregational investor with a holding of $500,000.
Last year, for the first time in decades, Oikocredit USA received $1,247,000 in new investments. Oikocredit USA, launched in 1980, is affiliated with the worldwide Oikocredit organization, which took in new investments of about $16.5 million last year. Oikocredit USA has established a goal of $1.5 million for 2004.
Oikocredit, the largest private organization of its kind, lends to more than 400 cooperatives and microcredit institutions in 67 countries. Recipients use the loans to finance income-generating projects. Potential investors can reach Oikocredit USA by mail at PO Box 11000, Washington, DC 20008, or by email at [email protected]