Microcredit is an important tool for reaching the poor, traditionally excluded from financial markets, contributing to the development of entrepreneurship and poverty alleviation. Whenever we think of modern microcredit, it is impossible not to remember the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh with the microfinance pioneer Mohammad Yunus. Eventually, the microcredit programs have spread over the globe, particularly among Latin America countries.
A noteworthy case, which was among the 2008-2009 finalists of the Experiences in Social Innovation Project organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC), is the Banco Social (“Social Bank”) in La Plata region, Argentina. The College of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences of the National University of La Plata (UNPL) created the Banco Social in 2005, in order to assist more than 500 small family farms in the region. This was the first national microfinance project implemented by a university in Argentina.
At first, the project consisted of loans, but then evolved into a more comprehensive system, which included all technical and economic support needed to improve the life quality of the small producers. Until December 2008, the Banco Social had provided more than $100,000 to small producers, totaling 213 microcredit loans, tailored to assist the particular conditions of the local producers. The Banco Social also promotes Manos de la Tierra fair (Hands of the Land) in order to improve the marketing channels for the beneficiaries of the project. Find more information about this initiative on their Facebook page and on their Blog.