Growing Together in Colombia.

“Initiatives like Cómo en Casa have benefited the community by creating employment and income for conflict-affected communities.”

Jose Felix Montoya, chief of party of CELI

Women benefited greatly from the GLACs, using the opportunity to create micro-franchises that sell food, clothing, and diverse services. For example, in June 2016, Fundacion Vivir Mejor (Better Living Foundation), a women-led grassroots organization in Valencia, Córdoba, launched Cómo en Casa, a bakery that sells bread, desserts, and dairy products to micro-franchises in the county seat (the center of government for each county in Colombia). Its products are also sold to 15 micro-franchising GLAC members.

This approach has expanded the range of products and services sold throughout rural areas. In addition to the bakery and dairy products that Cómo en Casa provides, other services include credit for minutes on mobile phones, micro-insurance, natural gas, and copy services. Since its launch, it has already created 19 jobs in Valencia, and is looking to expand. This will in turn create more jobs, and more community GLAC funding.

“Initiatives like Cómo en Casa have benefited the community by creating employment and income for conflict-affected communities,” says Jose Felix Montoya, chief of party of the CELI N/S project. “Citizens in rural areas can consume freshly baked goods produced with top-quality local ingredients, and grassroots organizations from other regions of the country have visited the project to better understand how to implement the model in their communities.”

The revenue generated from GLAC programs has had a significant economic impact. As more community members increase their incomes, they are contributing back to the community savings and loan programs that originally helped them. This has allowed communities to further invest in infrastructure improvement projects, and to continue to provide loans to those who need it most.

1,700

GLACs (savings and loans program groups) created

$3.5 million

in savings

37,000

people, including vulnerable populations, gaining access to increased finance

“CELI N/S’s intervention has helped us strengthen our organizational and cost structure through training,” explained Ana Gómez, a manager for Cómo en Casa. “By launching the bakery, CELI N/S has also helped us learn how to apply best practices for the marketing of our products.”

Despite the obstacle of economic isolation, local businesses and communities have found an opportunity to expand by growing from within. GLACs provide financial education and promote economic development that gives hope to these once cut-off communities.