At the start of this new year, we look back to recognize and appreciate the people, progress, and lessons learned from 2021 and move forward with renewed vigour into the year ahead. Read the post by Karl Braun, Chair, Oikocredit Canadian Support Association (OCSA) where he reflects on our work from past and way forward for the year 2022.
At the start of this new year, we look back to recognize and appreciate the people, progress, and lessons learned from 2021 and move forward with renewed vigour into the year ahead. Starting with the group of people at the core of the Oikocredit Canadian Support Association (OCSA), it is a privilege to be part of a board comprised of 12 dedicated volunteers with a wide range of talents and experience, generous with their time, and willing to dig in to the committee work that is required to keep our support association moving forward.
The efforts of our board are augmented by two talented contract support personnel, Vaishali Dassani who tends to the many marketing, communications and member engagement tasks, and Brigid McQuaid who keeps the books and serves as an important liaison between our Support Association (SA) and Oikocredit International (OI).
Oikocredit members continue to play an active part in the activities and structure of our SA including Hans Van Nie, a past Board member and Chair who recently completed his final term on the Oikocredit Members’ Council. Hans has continued to contribute to OCSA with his experience, wisdom, and commitment to the mission of Oikocredit. He is a valuable resource to our board.
We also recognize the contributions of past Supervisory Board member and chair, Joseph Patterson who recently stepped down from his leadership role after 5 years of solid leadership.
We are thankful to all OCSA members, investors and friends who have supported us with their attendance in online events, survey responses, and other tangible and intangible means of support. You are important to OCSA, OI, and the great many people that benefit from the efforts of this global organization.
During our strategic planning sessions one and a half years ago, our board identified three primary strategic directions for 2021 – To develop a business case for a new investment product, to build our strategic partnerships with potential funding sources for capacity building initiatives, and to continue to engage our members and stakeholders with communications and events amidst the unpredictability of pandemic restrictions.
At the beginning of the year, we embarked on an effort to better understand the opportunity, parameters and mechanism of a retail impact investment product to serve the needs of Canadian impact investors while providing a meaningful capital inflow source for OI.
We conducted two investor surveys that generated excellent feedback and provided us with insights and encouragement to move forward to the next level. Midway through the year, we turned to the expertise of Travis Inlow, a consultant with experience in the Canadian financial and cooperative sectors who led the further discovery effort and has provided us with valuable analysis that has helped us to streamline and focus our efforts towards viable investment products.
At the same time, OI has been conducting a product development effort of their own with the objective of launching a new open cooperative investment product that complies with the new regulations now being introduced in European countries.
Moving forward, our combined objective this year will be to determine how we can align our product development efforts with OI in a way that works best for our Canadian and North American context, while also satisfying the needs of OI to work towards viable and scalable product outcomes. Stay tuned.
At the close of 2021, our Strategic Partnerships Working Group reported steady progress towards identifying possible projects and potential funding partners to advance OI’s capacity building expertise in new and innovative ways. The Working Group also produced concept notes for potential projects and coordinated various Board learning opportunities on the topic of capacity building. The efforts of the past year will shape the objectives for the coming year, namely working with potential partners and implementing OI’s new community-focused strategy for 2022-2026 to enable us to achieve greater impact for the people and communities we serve. . We look forward to reporting on the progress of this working group throughout the year.
On the public and member engagement front, OCSA planned and/participated in various webinars throughout the year, recognizing International Women’s Day, International Co-operative Day, Co-op Week, and International Development Week. This year we will continue to create and circulate meaningful content to help build awareness and member/potential investor engagement through monthly newsletters, social media content, and on-line events to focus on financial inclusion, agriculture, renewable energy, capacity building and investor engagement. This includes a webinar that we will host on Tuesday, March 8 in recognition of International Women’s Day. We hope you can join us!
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI)
As a board, we embrace the challenge to promote, encourage, and practice accessibility and opportunity to everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, faith, and gender/identity. In fact, the two North American SAs (Canada and the US) have formed a DEI working group which has already made excellent progress with regular meetings and providing leadership by way of a DEI introduction exercise during the OI Summer Meetings. In practice, our board actively incorporates DEI values into our recruiting and governance processes. Partly in step with this initiative, we recently welcomed Emily Haugen to our board by way of Fora Network, formerly Girls On Boards. We have had very positive experiences with talented young women board members from this organization in the recent past and we look forward to benefiting from Emily’s energy, commitment and talents in her first year with our board.
Why we do this...
With everything that we do, from developing impact investment products to promoting and practising diversity, equity and inclusion, we recognize that our motive is to help alleviate poverty by creating opportunities in agriculture, financial inclusion, and renewable energy in the global south – and by communicating these efforts here in Canada to inspire interest and engagement in this global effort. We recognize the values and vision of those who led in the formation of Oikocredit 47 years ago, namely the World Council of Churches. We also recognize the visionary Presbyterian laywoman, Heather Johnston, who worked with her congregation, denomination and several other Canadian churches to invest and later launch the Canadian Support Association. May her vision, and the vision of Oikocredit continue to grow and inspire us to catalyze a positive change.
Thank you for your interest in the work of Oikocredit!