After visiting the cocoa farmers, we made our way to our next stop. For six hours, late into the night, we drove into the Andes - climbing more than 3,000 meters and crossing several mountain passes.
The next day, we were in the city of Loja to visit the micro-financing organization Fundación Faces. The management team were happy to see us. Faces focuses on providing financial services in underprivileged areas of Ecuador’s rural south, in particular for small-scale farmers and for women. Faces is always concerned with the family as a whole and not just the borrower. For people with disabilities, a low-cost credit is available to them and their families.
We were all very impressed with the risk management strategies, and the methods Faces uses to ensure that they actually reach their target groups. For example, poverty analysis using the ‘Progress out of Poverty’ index is an integral part of their customer assessment procedure prior to providing credit.
Next we visited Edgar Marizuca and his wife Paulina. Edgar told us about his roots: “I come from the country. I have nine siblings, and my parents were very poor. It was so bad that I nearly had to give up school. After school, I came here to Loja, where I worked for a plasterer for four years. After our wedding nine years ago, I took out a loan in order to set up in business on my own.”
Edgar’s first loan was for US$ 700 and his second for US$ 1,500. Because his business did well, he was then able to take out another loan for US$ 20,000 which he used to purchase a piece of land to build a house with a workshop and a sales room. Today, the family earns money with plastering, interior fittings, and the sale of building materials. The business has three permanent employees in the workshop, and 15 employees who work on interior fittings. With the current loan of US$ 45,000, the family will complete their house, and they plan to open another branch in the neighbouring province. One of their two daughters already has plans to follow in her parents’ footsteps. Her goal: to become an architect.
The family is no longer struggling to get by and Edgar could take out a loan with a conventional bank, but he has remained a loyal Faces customer. “We know each other well, and receiving a loan is quick and uncomplicated,” Edgar said. “I appreciate that very much.”
Written by: Ulrike Lohr
Ulrike Lohr has been responsible for regional coordinators and public relations in the West German support society since 2010. She supports active member in their activities and provides advice to regional groups within the support society. As a regional scientist with a specialization in Latin American studies, she gained her expertise in sustainable development and investment at the Südwind-Institut, BankTrack, and as an analyst for sustainable investment funds.
Study Tour 2016 blogs were originally posted to the Oikocredit Germany website.