Dominican Republic: Rural Credit Union Lives up to its Name (1995)

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

                  The Meaning of Progress
   Rural Dominican Republic Credit Union Lives Up to Its Name

     A report from the World Council of Credit Unions

For Bonifacio de la Rosa, Pedro Eusebio Santana, and Ramon
Jimenez Vidal, two merchants and a farmer, "progress" means
finally having access to financial resources--"progress" means
their credit union, El Progreso. Since it opened in April 1991,
this rural Dominican Republic credit union, located not far from
Santo Domingo, has meant these three men have been able to
realize success.

     Credit Unions Loan to Small-business Owners

De la Rosa, known as Boni to the patrons of his store, was a
founding member of El Progreso and is a prime example of why
access to financial resources is crucial to progress. De la
Rosa's store, located in the front part of his home, started off
with a US$ 5,000 inventory. 

During the course of three to four years, De la Rosa has taken
out ten loans from the credit union, ranging from US$ 350 to US$
5,000. With the money, he has increased his inventory to US$
37,000, expanded the store, purchased a small pick-up truck to
transport inventory from Santo Domingo, as well as bought three
parcels of land on which he is building homes for family members.

     Another Merchant Benefits

Santana, another merchant in the community, began his business
by renting a small place for his commodities store. Because his
inventory amounted to US$ 750, Santana had to wait until most of
his goods were sold before he could buy more. He was earning a
narrow profit margin on each item, since he could not buy larger
quantities, which would have allowed him to sell his stock at
lower prices.

Convinced that there had to be a better way to get ahead, Santana
joined El Progreso. He obtained a US$ 750 loan and immediately
invested the money in inventory. This allowed him to purchase
bigger quantities, lower his prices, and drastically improve his
profit margins. His inventory now is valued at US$9,000, and he
owns his own locale. Santana credits his success to the credit
union, "If it weren't for El Progreso, my business would not be
at this level. In this country, he who does not have access to
financial resources cannot get ahead."

     Farmer also Benefits    

Vidal, like De la Rosa and Santana, also found help at El
Progreso. When he was younger, he worked hard for local farmers,
earning what he could to help feed his family. His desire of
attending the university would have to wait.

Recognizing his dedication, El Progreso loaned Vidal US$80 to
purchase two Tarea (a Latin American land measurement equal to
1/4 of a football field), so he could grow his own produce. "The
agricultural bank had always refused to finance vegetable
products in this area due to the excessive quantities of rain
that Bayaguana receives all year long," states Vidal matter-of-

Rain, however, was not going to deter Vidal. After harvesting his
first crop, he paid off his loan and received another US$ 600,
which he used to increase the size of his garden. Today, he a
boasts a 28 Tarea plot (seven football fields) and a reputation
in the markets as a quality produce seller. He has brought
vegetables into his community at competitive prices that
previously were not found.

"With the credit and unconditional support of El Progreso, we
have demonstrated that it is possible to produce vegetables in
Bayaguana," said Vidal, who is now enrolled in the university.

El Progreso has delivered the promise inherent in its name. For
members like De la Rosa, Santana, and Vidal, the credit union has
given the wherewithal to build profitable businesses and the
resources to make dreams attainable.

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