By ALEXANDER KHOURY
This month Oikocredit USA was featured on ImpactAssets’ list of the top 50 socially responsible investment organizations– which covers a wide variety of groups committed to putting investors’ dollars towards positive change. These organizations, along with a host of others across the globe, continue to demonstrate that profit and positive impact are not mutually exclusive terms.
A wide range of research has begun to show the effect these groups are having on poverty in the global south. Small and Medium enterprises, which are boxed out of the traditional financial sector in many developing countries, have experienced a great deal of success with the funds provided by SRI. Their growth has been proven to spur a host of other positive shifts in socioeconomic indicators.
*Photo taken from Oikocredit Multimedia Database. Photographed by Tom Bamber
These micro to medium businesses employ a significant proportion of people with very low opportunity to find work elsewhere (often low-skilled laborers and women). In many cases they offer substantial non-salary benefits or invest in training for their workers, which boosts the overall value of the national labor force. They can also help stimulate demand for locally produced goods and services, and because these small enterprises (unlike multinational corporations) are invested in their surrounding communities they’re much more likely to act responsibly toward their neighbors.*
In supporting these businesses through SRI you’re not just lifting an individual out of poverty, you’re helping lift a community. By providing people with paying jobs you give them the tools to get the things they desperately need. Not to mention that these newly employed individuals spend a large chunk of their earnings locally, creating even more economic opportunity for their neighbors. With the tremendously positive effects impact investing has been proven capable of it’s hard to justify investing in the all-too-often exploitive Wall-Street firms. Money gives us the power to influence people across the world; it’s up to us to decide how we want to impact them.
*Disclaimer: The views represented here are the opinions of the individual blog author and do not represent the views of Oikocredit USA.