When Pura Parada Hurtado bought land for a dairy farm 20 years ago, she and her husband relied on a loan to make the purchase. Confronted with the fierce competition that has pervaded Bolivia’s agricultural market, Pura’s family sought a loan from Accion partner BancoSol to buy more cattle and machinery. In a short while, she found herself managing six employees who live on her farm. Patting her favorite cow named Isa, Pura says, “We've always been clients of the bank. Everything we’ve done has been with loans.”
Reaching out to people who live in remote areas, such as Pura, is not easy. Long distances, deeply rutted dirt roads and washed out bridges separate the rural poor from programs that can help them improve their standard of living. Yet the need is great: Families in rural Latin America not only have larger households, fewer assets and less education than their urban counterparts, but 90 percent of them also lack access to financial services.
This is why Accion is creating a replicable model for rural microfinance in Latin America. Supported in part by a grant from the Inter-American Development Bank, Accion and five of its long-term partners have set out to demonstrate that serving the rural poor with microfinance is sustainable. The project was launched in 2009 and seeks to serve 200,000 people by 2013.
As for Pura, she knows firsthand how financial tools can help create opportunity. “It would be difficult to build this business without the bank – we wouldn’t have the capital to do it.”