Bolivia: Credit Unions and Small-business Owners (1995)

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

                 The Perfect Combination
    Bolivian Credit Unions and Small-business Owners

 A special report from the World Council of Credit Unions

Maritza de Paco and Ruben Nogales Valverde are successful small-
business owners. They are also both credit union members. 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 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
awhile, 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 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
tothe 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.

Nogales, who owns a machine shop, has this same sense of
confidence in his credit union, San Martin de Porres.

After saving enough money to buy a plot of land years ago,
Nogales, a mechanic, wanted to become his own boss. He turned to
his credit union for help. "Before I worked as an employee at a
machine shop, now I am an owner of a shop thanks to loans I
received from the credit union. Without them, my own resources
would not have been enough for me to achieve what I have
accomplished," he said.

Nogales now employees 17 workers and his shop is well known at
the national level.

"Because I want my business to continue to grow, I will once
again know on the door of the credit union. I know it will be
there for me and this gives me and my workers confidence,"
explained Nogales.

De Paco and Nogales 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

For more information on the activities of the World Council of
Credit Unions, contact:

         World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU)
         PO Box 2982
         Madison, WI 53701, USA
         fax + 1 608 238 8020