In an effort to engage Bolivia's entire financial sector and extend services to marginalized rural areas, we set out to administer grants to credit unions and microfinance institutions that piloted innovative outreach initiatives. The financial sector support program, funded by USAID successfully increased financial access for the country's rural poor.
The success of this and other sector-wide initiatives, which addressed the needs of credit unions and other microfinance providers, drew nearly 25,000 people into formal financial institutions. Other accomplishments program included:
the development of microinsurance – including micro health and auto insurance,
the formation of an association of financial associations to foster the sector's development, Association of Financial Associations (ASAF),
widespread consumer information campaigns and
the launch of Bolivia's first member-owned automated teller machines (ATMs).
During the program, the Ohio Credit Union League (OCUL) and Corporate One Credit Union, Columbus, Ohio, also participated in the development of Bolivia's credit unions through WOCCU's International Partnerships Program. OCUL representatives taught their Bolivian counterparts about financial services delivery methods, documentation processes and advocacy techniques. Corporate One created software that allowed credit unions to manage their own liquidity needs.
With the support of ASAF, the informational campaigns carried out by the program reached an estimated 1.25 million people, roughly 26% of Bolivia's population, mostly through the distribution of printed materials at 1,073 branches of various financial institutions.