Over 11,500 resource-poor women are participating in solidarity savings and loan groups in Ecuador through four local credit unions. For many women these solidarity groups are offering their first opportunity to open savings accounts and apply for loans. These women are using their new resources to improve their lives, the lives of their families and their communities through a variety of micro-businesses.
For the past three years, World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. (WOCCU) has been introducing savings and credit education programs to credit unions in Ecuador through a project funded by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP) of the World Bank. WOCCU has also worked with Freedom From Hunger on outreach with this project. In conjunction with WOCCU's board meetings in Quito, Ecuador, board members had the opportunity to visit these credit unions and witness the impact of WOCCU's activities on the lives of Ecuadorians.
The board members participated in a graduation ceremony in the town of Latacunga, observing women graduating from being members of a solidarity group with membership in the credit unions to direct individual members of the credit union. Prior to participation in the solidarity groups, none of the women had the minimal financial resources to become direct members of the credit unions. Due to their income generation activities in the solidarity groups, this group of 10 of the 20 previously ineligible women became members.
In the small town of El Quinche, only a few miles from the equator, WOCCU board members observed a regular weekly meeting of one of the solidarity groups. Following the group's discussion on self- empowerment, each member repaid her loan. One of the women in the group, Margarita Tipan, operates two food stands seven days a week. The mother of seven and grandmother of four has used her US$300 loan from the solidarity group to buy two pigs. One of her stands sells fried pork outside the town's church on Sundays and she has found the cost of purchasing of pork outweighs her profits. She now is able to increase her profit by raising and butchering the animals herself. Margarita now has US$16.88 in savings and is looking forward to being able to becoming a full member of credit union.
"First-hand knowledge of the impact of WOCCU's work in Ecuador is a reminder of the transformative power of credit unions," indicated Bobby McVeigh, chairman of the board of WOCCU. "Witnessing the pride of these women as they became individual members of the credit union is something I will never forget."
El Consejo Mundial de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Crédito es la asociación gremial y agencia de desarrollo para el sistema internacional de cooperativas de ahorro y crédito. El Consejo Mundial promueve el crecimiento sustentable de las cooperativas de ahorro y crédito y otras cooperativas financieras en todo el mundo a fin de facultar a las personas para que mejoren su calidad de vida a través del acceso a servicios financieros asequibles y de alta calidad. El Consejo Mundial realiza esfuerzos de defensa activa en representación del sistema global de las cooperativas de ahorro y crédito ante organizaciones internacionales y trabaja con gobiernos nacionales para mejorar la legislación y la regulación. Sus programas de asistencia técnica introducen nuevas herramientas y tecnologías para fortalecer el desempeño financiero de las cooperativas de ahorro y crédito y profundizar su alcance comunitario.
El Consejo Mundial ha implementado 290 programas de asistencia técnica en 71 países. A nivel mundial, 57,000 cooperativas de ahorro y crédito en 105 países atienden a 217 millones de personas. Obtenga más información sobre el impacto global del Consejo Mundial en www.woccu.org.