DAY 16, NOVEMBER 12, 2007
Today we visited the Jardín de Azuayo Savings and Credit Union, an institution which was founded in the reconstruction of the region following the destruction caused by a major landslide in March of 1993. The Cooperative was formed by a small group of partners from Paute, with the aim of channeling scarce resources to the most in need. Following a complex process, the Cooperative received legal recognition and began operations in March of 1996. Presently it brings together 27 communities.
Juan Carlos Urgilés, General Manager, Henry Quezada, Coordinator of Support to the Directors, Enrique Orellana, Permanent Consultant and Hernán rodas, President of the Cooperative, presented the institution, its mission and micro financial labour.
Javier Vaca, Director of the Rural Financial Network, then presented ‘Micro financial services in Ecuador: History, challenges and innovations’.
Following the presentations we left Cuenca and traveled by bus to Paute, the road winding through a beautiful river valley, intensively cultivated with flowers and fruit for export. We had lunch at a restaurant which was developed as an initiative by the Cooperative. We visited the organization’s Head Office and then a housing project, where 179 houses are being completed with funding from the Cooperative, 70 of which are low-cost housing.
We visited a nursery garden where the owner, agronomist Orlando Incalada, a Cooperative member, told us of his credit experience and answered participants’ questions.
On our return to Cuenca, we carried out the synthesis workshop and then toured the city. With a population of 450,000 inhabitants, Cuenca is the third largest city in Ecuador and a World Heritage Site. From the top of a double-decker bus we admired the city’s beautiful colonial buildings with their characteristic balconies. We then returned to the hotel to eat and rest.