AMERSFOORT, Netherlands, June 30, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
Rosalind Copisarow is taking the reins as Oikocredit's new managing director, officially assuming responsibilities from Tor G. Gull tomorrow.
Ms Copisarow brings a unique mix of experience to Oikocredit; 15 years as a blue chip investment banker, followed by 13 years of building up new microfinance institutions and a further three years heading social enterprises.
Ms Copisarow founded Fundusz Mikro, the first microfinance institution in Poland in 1994. The organization went on to serve more than 35,000 clients, was valued at € 35 million and became financially sustainable in 1999. She left to embrace a new challenge the following year with Street UK - a UK-based microloan programme, now national and self-financing.
Later, Ms Copisarow held positions as senior vice president of international microfinance organization ACCION, and then as chief executive of International Development Enterprises UK (IDE), a development organization that works to empower subsistence farmers.
A UK national, Ms Copisarow is a social entrepreneur whose most recent venture, Constellation Communities, aims to enable slum residents to acquire their own home through a package of housing products and support services that include microfinance.
"Successful social development lies with multiple approaches," says Ms Copisarow. "A combination of support for microfinance, cooperatives and small and medium enterprises will drive a healthy sustainable development sector."
"I think the expectations of microfinance were too high. It isn't a panacea to poverty alleviation but it is a very important, effective tool to help people out of poverty. We need to understand what it can and cannot do, so we can fill the gaps," she said. "One big agenda item is the lack of access to markets. Customers who borrow money to make more baskets are not going to be helped if there's no one to buy the extra baskets. Support for a diversity of sectors is essential."
Presently, Oikocredit's portfolio is split between microfinance institutions, cooperatives and small to medium enterprises. "I don't think I've ever seen an organization with such a depth of commitment to its mission as Oikocredit," she said. "It's about knowing what we're trying to achieve and pursuing our ultimate goal with our whole heart. And that goal is to create a just world of equal opportunity and human dignity for all."
Ms Copisarow's capabilities and commitment will ensure the continuity of Oikocredit's social mission and unique approach to investing in people.
Oikocredit is a social investor and worldwide cooperative that promotes global justice by empowering disadvantaged people with credit. Since 1975, Oikocredit has offered loans and investment capital to microfinance institutions, cooperatives, fair trade and other businesses. Today, Oikocredit has 863 project partners in more than 70 countries. For more information, visit http://www.oikocredit.org.