Community savings and loans – Joint learning towards the “good life” (Ecuador)
As part of the on-going three-year project called “Paths of community learning” a regional workshop has taken place in Ecuador (near the town of Cuenca) in September 2013, gathering more than twenty participants from Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia. The workshop was organised by Father Hernan Rodas (2007 PKF Laureate), drawing from the experience of Jardin Azuayo, a cooperative that supports community savings and loans schemes with exemplary results in Ecuador.
Learning was grounded on the practical experience of the participants and moved through a direct interaction with people and communities that managed to get themselves stronger through local organising and economic solidarity. The local control of capital (communal savings) can be a powerful tool and provide alternatives to migration and misery in oppressive societies where access to capital is usually limited and strictly controlled. For “solidarity economies” to work, however, it is essential that a small group of people take the initiative and nourish a local process which can only be based on mutual trust and goodwill. The workshop resulted in a joint declaration and a set of statements/ reflections subscribed by all the participants (annexed in Spanish). The participants also provided comments to an evolving document of Guidelines for communities willing to develop their own savings and loans schemes.
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