Oikocredit loans are directed at groups, such as cooperatives, fair trade cooperatives, microfinance institutions, or trade associations. Oikocredit raises loan capital with the help of Support Associations, which raise the awareness of people in their region about the importance of development and ethical investments. Through the Associations the investments of individuals, local congregations, religious orders and parishes are channeled to Oikocredit. Loans are then made based on specific criteria:
- People: The enterprise must benefit groups of disadvantaged people and contribute to the social and economic advancement of the community.
- Groups: The cooperative structure is favored where applicable because beneficiaries participate directly in the operation and management of the business.
- Women: Preference is given to enterprises in which women are direct beneficiaries and in which they participate in decision-making, structures and procedures.
- Viability: The enterprise must be economically viable, with appropriate management and technical leadership, and become self-sustaining within a reasonable period of time.
- Need: There must be a clear need for foreign investment which can be provided within terms that can secure the necessary government approvals and are beneficial to the project partners.
- Fair Trade: fair trade enterprises are favored as a way to promote additional poverty reduction. Oikocredit considers fair finance to be part of the fair trade movement.
Investments by individuals as well as institutions, such as Calvert Foundation, provide the lending capital to Oikocredit.