07 / 1993
The Ecumenical Development Cooperative Society - EDCS - was founded in Amersfoort (the Netherlands)in 1975. It is an initiative of Christian grassroot groups in the Netherlands. They have used their savings to create a financial support scheme for projects in Third World countries. Today Edcs has a saving fund of 7,5 million US Dollars as a result of more than 130.000 contributions. It supports over 100 enterprises and projects in Third World countries paying particular attention to those that aim to become self-sufficient. Two thirds of EDCS’sprofits go back to the members of the cooperative. This is equivalent to 2% of the interest from savings.
An EDCS support group was set up in Valle Aurina (Bolzano, Italy)in 1988. The province of Bolzano has a long tradition of solidarity with Third World countries. EDCS is not a donor agency. It operates as a solidarity bank. It offers credit at lower interest rates. In order to have access to these loans, organizations must demonstrate that they work for the poor and underprivileged sectors of the population, that they allow workers to participate in the running of projects, that women participate actively and that they are sustainable from a financial and managerial point of view. Financial transactions often involve local institutions and organizations (sometime local banks)which provide financial guarantees. Over the years EDCS’s principles have remained unchanged. However there has been a change in the grassroots groups participating in this activity. They do not belong exclusively to the church network and are often secular.
Worldwide, EDCS has a staff of 20 people spread over five continents. In Southern countries they come from grassroots groups. They also have a consultancy team for legal and financial matters. The Valle Aurina EDCS group has no paid staff. Activities are run on voluntary basis. The Province of Bolzano also contributes to EDCS information activities. Beyond this contribution, the budget consists of interest on savings and membership fees, payable each year.
EDCS in Bolzano assesses the work done until now very positively and sees positive developments for the future. Both the level of savings and the number of projects being supported should increase. The local support group has very good grassroot relations locally. It has a network of contact people in the various valleys of the Tirol Region.
Translated by Alessio Surian
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