More Than 11K Women In Savings, Loan Program

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More than 11,500 women in this country who have been identified as "resource-poor" by the World Council of Credit Unions are participating in solidarity savings and loan groups in Ecuador through four local credit unions.

"For many women these solidarity groups are offering their first opportunity to open savings accounts and apply for loans," WOCCU reported. "These women are using their new resources to improve their lives, the lives of their families and their communities through a variety of micro-businesses."

For the past three years, World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. (WOCCU) has been introducing savings and credit education programs to credit unions in Ecuador through a project funded by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP) of the World Bank. WOCCU has also worked with Freedom From Hunger on outreach with the project.

During a meeting of its board here, the World Council visited the credit unions, and also participated in a graduation ceremony in the town of Latacunga for women "graduating" from being members of a solidarity group with membership in the credit unions to direct individual members of the credit union. WOCCU reported that prior to participation in the solidarity groups, none of the women had the minimal financial resources to become direct members of the credit unions. Due to their income generation activities in the solidarity groups, this group of 10 of the 20 previously ineligible women became members.

In the small town of El Quinche, only a few miles from the equator, WOCCU board members observed a regular weekly meeting of one of the solidarity groups. Following the group's discussion on self-empowerment, each member repaid her loan.

WOCCU reported that one woman, Margarita Tipan, an operator of two food stands seven days a week and the mother of seven and grandmother of four, has used her $300 loan from the solidarity group to buy two pigs. One of her stands sells fried pork outside the town's church on Sundays and she has found the cost of purchasing of pork outweighs her profits. She now is able to increase her profit by raising and butchering the animals herself.

"Margarita now has $16.88 in savings and is looking forward to being able to becoming a full member of credit union," WOCCU said.

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