Bolivian Credit Unions and Small Business Owners

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

   |                                                      |
   |              Published to Coincide with              |
   |         the Fourth World Conference on Women         |
   |              Beijing, September, 1995                |
   |                 Issue No. 4, 1995                    |

The Perfect Combination: 
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 1950s 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.