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Last week was the official launch of Oikocredit in UK. Oikocredit is an international development finance organisation which specialises in micro – finance in developing countries. In 2006 they became shareholders in Divine Chocolate.
The event was held in the Crypt of St Martins in the Field, which was the launch venue for Fairtrade Fortnight 2000 with Clare Short MP the Minister for overseas development, so a place with good karma. The room was packed with investors, people who had raised the money in their churches, their schools and there were even some nuns from a convent.
Mariam Dao, Oikocredit’s regional manager from Ivory Coast described an inspiring project made possible by Oikocredit. A co-operative of 200 women street vendors were lent 2 million Euros to build a covered market. They worked with the architect and now have a thriving market where they are able to sell vegetables and chicken. They have set up a crèche for their children, they have serviced the loan and in a recent survey 62% of the women have now employed an extra person because their business has grown. So the loan has been a huge success but how many organisations in the world have the imagination and courage to lend 2 million Euros to 200 women street vendors.
It was a privilege to speak at the launch and to be is such good company. We ended by cutting a Divine Chocolate cake welcoming Oikocredit to UK, a flavour of things to come.