The Perfect Combination

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     This document has been made available in electronic format 
          by the International Co-operative Alliance ICA 
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                         October 1995



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                    The Perfect Combination
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          Bolivian credit unions and small-business owners

                    Special Report from WOCCU


Maritza de Paco is a successful small-business owner. She is also a credit
union member. It is a combination that is becoming more prevalent in
Bolivia.

Credit union loans make dreams possible
De Paco, who now runs a screen printing shop out of her home in a
lower-middle class neighborhood of Santa Cruz, relied on the San Luis
Credit Union to help her achieve her goal of owning her own business. 

"Two years ago my husband and I moved to Santa Cruz. When we did, we found
out about the San Luis Credit Union and with loans we were able to build
our business little by little," said de Paco.

The de Pacos' first loan was for US$1,000, from which US$750 was used to
buy a machine, and the rest to obtain raw material. After a while, she
says, they applied for another loan and bought one more machine. After
these loans were paid off, they received US$2,000, which enabled them to
purchase two additional machines. Today, they own seven.

Small-business owners improve the lives of others
Aside from allowing them to acquire machines, the credit union enabled de
Paco to hire workers. De Paco, of native ancestry came from "the interior"
~ the mountainous area of Bolivia. She now speaks proudly of the fact that
she employs ten others from "the interior," principally young, native
women like herself.

This type of migration is good for Santa Cruz for it has enabled it to
grow from a sleepy town of 35,000 in the 1950's to the booming
agricultural and industrial city that it is today. In fact, Santa Cruz
owes its success to its inhabitants' dedication.  

"In the future, we are going to keep trying to make the workshop grow and
give more people opportunities to work. My husband and I trust the credit
union and we know that it is going to continue to help us," De Paco said.

People's confidence in Bolivian credit unions surges
The de Pacos are just two of thousands in Bolivia that believe in their
credit union. This feeling of trust can be attributed to the World Council
of Credit Unions project in that country, which has made it possible for
credit unions to now be regulated under the superintendency of banks and
financial institutions.

The de Pacos have succeeded in making their lives better, and in doing so,
improving the lives of others by reducing unemployment and poverty in
Bolivia. This is an accomplishment that both credit unions and
small-business owners can be proud of because without each other none of
this would have been possible.