Local Rabobank Waterland supports cooperative Ecuador
Rabobank Waterland is supporting Nueva Esperanza, a savings and credit cooperative in Ecuador. Lea Sterenborg, head of the Private Customers department of the bank, visited the cooperative and a number of its members. "It was good to see that the cooperative is really helping its members move forward."
Just like all the local Rabobanks, Rabobank Waterland donates part of its profit to Rabobank Foundation. Recently, it was decided to link that contribution to a particular project supported by the Foundation. Sterenborg explains that decision as follows: "You know what the funds are being used for, you can keep an eye on the project and even visit it." Rabobank Waterland chose Nueva Esperanza because it was a relatively small project and they could become exclusive sponsors.
Nueva Esperanza itself supports smaller cooperatives, associations and producer organisations by making credit facilities, expertise and training available, and also providing access to its network and helping with marketing. The cooperative has around 2,000 active members; just two years ago that number was only 500. Sterenborg: "The cooperative is developing well. Now, for example, they are starting to open up banking offices." She was able to see that, thanks to the cooperative, the individual members are also doing well. "Nueva Esperanza supports a diverse group of entrepreneurs. Not only livestock farmers, potato growers and cheese makers, but also a company that offers thermal baths for tourists, a clothing studio and a sculptor."
Although they are heading in the right direction, Nueva Esperanza is not yet self-reliant. "They still definitely need the support of Rabobank Foundation", continues Sterenborg. "Our Rabobank has adopted this project for three years, until the end of 2015. By that time they will probably be entirely self-supporting." Sterenborg could look back on a great trip. "I really enjoyed Ecuador. It is a splendid country, and it is better developed than I had expected. There is political stability and the infrastructure is good, even in the rural areas. They recently opened a new and modern airport. The people are healthy, and have sufficient to eat and drink. Their housing, however, is relatively poor. But there is a lot of construction going on, and as soon as more money is available they continue with the building work."
Back in the Netherlands, a much more hectic place – "in Ecuador they live at an entirely different pace, and that makes you realize that it would do no harm to slow down here too" – Sterenborg wants to get more members and customers involved in the bank's adoption project. "At the very least we will make a presentation about the project, and our visit, for the Members Council. But in the future I would like to be able to sell the products of Nueva Esperanza members here, or take some customers to Ecuador and allow the cooperative to benefit from their expertise. Now that we have chosen a particular Rabobank Foundation project to adopt, there will be many opportunities for cooperation and interaction."