Written by Phyllis Richards
Through One Great Hour of Sharing you support the infrastructure of the faith-inspired micro-financing organization, Oikocredit. Almost half a century ago, at the 1968 meeting of the World Council of Churches, young politically engaged church members, from a variety of denominations, called for an ethical investment channel that supports peace and universal companionship. The United Church of Christ was among those initiators. Today, members of the Women’s Cooperative Cocovico are among those benefiting from this social investment. Located in Abidjan, the largest city in the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire in West Africa, the cooperative of 200 female owner-members coordinates a market for 500 vendors to serve 10,000 customers each day. The cooperative enables these 200 coop members to have access to health, childcare and banking facilities, as well as clean water, electricity and public toilets. During political upheavals in 2011, Cocovico became more than a market for many people living in Abidjan. “With the contract financed by Oikocredit, the people of Abidjan were able to access food; it was the only open market in town. We also provided a place for traders and other vendors who had nowhere else to sell their food,” explains the coop’s president, Ms. Rosalie Botti. At least 400 displaced people took shelter in the market buildings during the unrest and many women and children were treated in the cooperative’s medical centre. Cocovico is a grassroots partner organization that has utilized hard and local currency loans, practical training, and lots of guidance and advice.