MicroFinance in Action – Brigid’s visit to Cooperatives in Buenos Aires
In December I travelled to Argentina to visit a friend and seized the opportunity to visit Oiko Credit’s Latin America Head Office, based in Buenos Aires. As a personal lender to Oiko Credit (like a number of Gaeia clients), I was keen to see at first hand how our loans are used. I met initially with the Director who explained that there is a chain of lending from Oiko to other cooperative lending groups and they in turn may lend to over 100 secondary coops. In Argentina, they are focussing on financing agri-coops, to strengthen the market position of small farmers and their produce.
However in a large commercial/industrial city like Buenos Aires, the priorities are different for the communities I visited with Karina Katz, the Argentina Credit Analyst, with whom I spent the day.
We travelled from the centre of Buenos Aires, across to the outskirts of this enormous sprawling city. First we met Enrique Wenthe, the General Manager of Emprenda, a Latin American NGO which has formed a cooperative credit bank. This bank receives Oiko funds and then distributes them down at the local level, with their detailed knowledge of the local communities, people and the businesses/projects that need loans. In the barrio we visited, lending is focussed on a community, predominantly Peruvian migrants, which specialises in textiles. They supply fabric and clothes to the huge textile market called “La Salada”.
Enrique explained that he had seen a huge improvement in the wellbeing of this community since they first started making loans 8 years ago to the various businesses in the barrio. It seems to have arisen out of squatting on disused government land, once an industrial complex. The photos here give an idea of both the barren lack of infrastructure and the practical activity going on now.
Thanks to the loans we make to Oiko, they can help these communities develop businesses that make clothes in Argentina, instead of importing all from e.g. China, provide employment, a growing income and provide goods and services for their community.
Posted by Brigid – July 2013
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