Cresol cooperative’s loan helps Brazilian smallholders Silvio and Ivete replant their coffee farm

Cresol cooperative’s loan helps Brazilian smallholders Silvio and Ivete replant their coffee farm

Logo Cresol.jpg23 October 2023

One of Oikocredit’s latest partners in Brazil is Cresol União dos Vales (‘Union of Valleys’), a credit cooperative based in the Ivaí River valley region of Paraná state, close to Brazil’s southwest border with Paraguay. Cresol União dos Vales, which is part of the Brazil-wide Cresol Confederation of cooperatives, became an Oikocredit partner in 2022 when we provided a direct loan for its portfolio growth in current and new branches.

Cresol União dos Vales is now even better prepared to help its members in times of need.

Silvio Roberto Carvalho, aged 64, and his wife Ivete Fatima Carvalho are smallholder coffee growers. They also cultivate silkworms as a second line of income on the 7.5 hectare farm Silvio inherited from his father.

Five years ago, Silvio and Ivete were struggling. “I was in need of funding to restore my coffee plantation,” Silvio says. “Due to cold weather, my coffee trees were frozen and unproductive. Following a friend’s advice, I went to the local Cresol União dos Vales branch and became a member of the cooperative.”

A loan makes all the difference

With a loan from Cresol União dos Vales of 60,000 reais (about € 11,000), Silvio hired workers to help him uproot the old and damaged coffee trees and replant the farm with new trees.

“For me it was very good,” he recalls, “because the cooperative did not set any financial conditions. I needed to pay my employees, because I wasn't able to do the work alone. The impact of the loan is that it helped me to replant the coffee trees and continue my farm.”

Today Silvio and Ivete can look forward to retiring from day-to-day farming:

“We have a house in the city. We intend to stay in the countryside for another three to four years. Then we will move to the city and only come here occasionally. There's an empty house up on the hill, and we would like to pay a family to live there and to look after the coffee and maintain the farm.”

Supporting small and medium rural and urban enterprises

Cresol União dos Vales started as a credit cooperative in Ivaiporã municipality, Paraná state, in 2002 with just 22 smallholder farmer members who knew little about banking. Despite a Brazilian government programme intended to support small-scale farmers, the banks were not making credit available to these smallholders.

Several years after its founding, the cooperative merged with two other cooperatives in the same region, adding new economic sectors to its financing activities. It has since grown into an institution of more than 12,500 members, nearly a third of them women.

Under Brazil’s system of cooperatives, Cresol União dos Vales is a ‘first tier’ cooperative, affiliated to and with an investment in the capital of the larger ‘second tier’ Cresol Baser network of 24 cooperatives. Cresol Baser in turn belongs to and invests in an even larger ‘third tier’ cooperatives’ confederation. This is Cresol Confederação, one of Brazil’s main financial cooperative systems that brings together almost 900,000 members in 68 separate cooperatives located in 19 of the country’s 26 states.

Cresol União dos Vales’s focus is on supporting small and medium rural and urban producers and enterprises. It is an important actor among communities in the region and maintains close and unbureaucratic relationships with clients like Silvio Carvalho.

Oikocredit recently visited Silvio and Ivete’s smallholding with colleagues from Cresol União dos Vales and a video crew. 

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