Alterfin began strongly, granting its first credit facilities to partners in the South. Ever since, Alterfin has been fulfilling its mission: to promote access to financial services for people who are socially and economically disadvantaged.
Alterfin granted its first loan in 1995, to a Chilean wine cooperative called ‘Los Perales’. This was followed the same year by a partner in Peru and another in Ecuador. The first partners were producers’ cooperatives engaged in fair trade. The financing of microfinance institutions and the expansion to other continents began shortly afterwards.
Citizens follow the movement
The Board of Directors and founders soon realised that the funds needed to finance projects were lacking. The share capital had to be increased. And so private individuals were offered the opportunity to become shareholders from 1995 onwards.
This decision was a major step in the history of the cooperative. According to Jan and Hugo, “it was a red-letter day”.
Alterfin takes shape
To collect capital, Alterfin was able to count on the support of Triodos Bank. When Hugo and Bart promoted ‘North-South’ savings accounts, Alterfin received a commission. And vice versa: when Triodos savers became Alterfin shareholders, they benefited from a more attractive interest rate on their Triodos savings account. At that time, Alterfin was growing ‘quietly, always in line with its internal capacities”, Hugo says.
For the first few years, Alterfin recorded a deficit because it had to cover its start-up expenses. This situation is typical for fledgling companies. But from 1997 onwards, Alterfin’s income was sufficient to cover its operating costs. Alterfin recorded its first profit in 1998. In 2001, the first dividend of 1.5% was distributed to shareholders.
As for the Board of Directors, its composition evolved over time. In 1998, the NGO SOS Faim (SOS Hunger) joined the Alterfin Board of Directors, alongside Vredeseilanden and Triodos Bank. These three organisations are still represented on the board today.
Moreover, Alterfin has more and more individual shareholders who wish to be represented on the Board of Directors. This now consists of eight people, including three representatives of individual shareholders and two independent members.
Alterfin is growing, and so is its financing in the South! Find out how its activities in the South have developed in our forthcoming news.
Some key figures
Our activity in the world
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