March 03, 2015
News /
Posted by NCID

Jorge Bolívar, President of the Fundación Inversión y Cooperación (Investment and Cooperation Foundation), presented the "Saving to Learn" ("Ahorra para Aprender") project at the Navarra Center for International Development. The project presents an alternative approach to socio-economic inclusion at the base of the pyramid (the poorest level of society).

"We want to use business concepts to develop a social project," as Bolívar said. As he noted, the key to success lies in changing the mindset of cultures that only have short-term vision. "From the first day, we help people to save and manage their savings."

This project offers a perspective that differs from microfinance, a field in which Jorge Bolívar worked for a time and left because of "the risk of over-indebtedness, the distortion of the microcredit world and the lack of self-sustainability." He continued, "In the world of microfinance, the people at the bottom of the pyramid are not included."

Practical, repetitive and collective training

"For training to work at the base of the pyramid, it must have three characteristics: it must be practical, repetitive and collective," as Bolívar claimed. This model is known with the acronym UNICAs (Uniones de Crédito y Ahorro - Savings and Credit Unions).

They correspond to community financial organizations made up of between 10 and 30 people among whom there is a relationship of mutual trust. It is based on three pillars: practical financial education, self-financing through savings and self-management.

Jorge Bolívar recalled that the mission of the Saving to Learn project is to strengthen these organizations so that ever higher goals related to entrepreneurship can be set. The goal for this year is to create 300 UNICAs; so far 53 have been launched.

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