Investing in solidarity, not discord
A new investment offered by Mennonite Savings and Credit Union and Oikocredit enables individual investors in Ontario to contribute to the vexing problem of global poverty.
If this catches on - at Mennonite Savings and other credit unions across Canada - it could tap into some deep-seated yearnings for global solidarity at a time when so many people feel that the world is becoming more and more divided.
On Feb. 2, Mennonite Savings and Credit Union (MSCU) and Oikocredit Canada introduced the Oikocredit Global Impact GIC. Offered by MSCU, the GIC is a guaranteed, RSP-eligible investment certificate. It has a term of 12 months, and an initial interest rate of 1.3%, slightly below market for one year certificates.
This is how it works. After investors invest in the GIC, MSCU purchases shares in Oikocredit that match the principal amount invested in the GIC. Oikocredit uses these funds to support its $900 million loan and investment portfolio, invested in more than 800 microfinance, agricultural, co-op and fair trade partners in 63 countries around the world. MSCU receives an annual return on the shares and the investors earn interest on their GIC. The GIC is open to investment by any individual or institutional investor who is a member of the credit union.
More information on how to invest is available at the MSCU website.
By investing its own funds in Oikocredit, the credit union is able to achieve some interesting things. One of these is that the investment is RSP-eligible, something denied to global impact investments, and most other domestic impact investments.
The other is that eligible Canadian dollar deposits, including the Oikocredit Global Impact GIC, held at MSCU are insured by the Deposit Insurance Corporation of Ontario (DICO). For more information on deposit insurance, please visit DICO's website at www.dico.com.
The idea of matching investor savings with a credit union investment in global development isn’t new. Vancity has been doing this for many years through its Shared World term deposit. But this is the first time that it has been brought to Ontario, and it is now proven as an easily-implementable concept for other financial institutions.
GLS Bank in Germany, Credit Cooperatif in France and Ekobanken in Sweden have similar products. While the concept is already proven in the global development arena , it could also be used for local impact if credit unions or banks matched investor savings with investments in social enterprises in their own communities.
At a time when world conflict and division seems rampant, the Oikocredit Global Impact GIC is a small light of hope for peace and solidarity.
Eugene Ellmen is National Director of Oikocredit, a social investor and global co-operative investing in partner organizations aimed at lifting people out of poverty in low-income countries. For more information, visit www.oikocredit.ca. This blog post was previously published on socialfinance.ca.