Indigenizing Micro-Finance in Mapuche Lands

Indigenizing Micro-Finance in Mapuche Lands

Ignacio Krell and I are excited to be part of the new MAPLE South America Team- about to begin a six-month journey to Mapuche ancestral lands in the southern Andes of Chile. We are honored to have been invited by the indigenous community of Llaguepulli - to join them in their efforts towards indigenous financial autonomy.

The Llaguepulli Community, renowned for its peaceful struggle for Mapuche rights through entrepreneurship and education, is situated on Lake Budi, a unique salty body of water that is home to a 12,000 strong indigenous Mapuche community and is a Conservation Priority Zone for its crucial habitats for regional biological conservation. In an effort to build sustainable livelihoods, the community has opened its doors to visitors from around the world coming for the tranquil beauty of Mapuche ways and territories. They also work with Mapuche women textile artisans as a means to create local jobs and retain the youth.

In my experiences working in microfinance, values and culture tend to be bumped down on the priority list of objectives. Though sometimes this may happen through neglect, more often it is simply due to the challenge and difficulty of addressing and protecting values and culture. We want to include these elements as requirements to a successful model - an alternative and indigenous savings-based banking system.  As the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’  Article 4 states, as part of the exercise of self-determination, these communities have the right to “autonomy or self-government…as well as ways and means for financing their autonomus functions“.

The MAPLE team in Uganda has been working directly with local communities since 2008 to create grassroots Village Savings and Loan Associations based on group decision-making and individual and collective autonomy. Still, to practically incorporate the frame of indigenous rights, traditions and strategies for holistic intergenerational asset building and environmental stewardship is a new challenge for the MAPLE Chile project. It is also, however, a unique opportunity to build banking alternatives from the bottom-up through intercultural collaboration.

In order to achieve these goals, MAPLE will be conducting a six months assessment. We will incorporate two community Mapuche managers, Nadia and Fresia, to the team, to identify the community’s values and prioritize them into a sustainable implementation plan.

One thing I find to be exceptionally promising for our project is the incorporation of the Mapuche Tourism Committee as a co-partner in the project. They have created a Mapuche ecotourism model based on Mapuche traditional knowledge and sense of belonging, which now will be the basis for an innovative value-based banking alternative. By creating a self-sustaining savings-based Member-Owned Institution, resources will be re-allocated and invested back into their community, and perhaps more importantly, on the community’s own terms.

By harnessing and nurturing community-based indigenous knowledge and leadership we will advance global learning networks for alternative development and financial models that appropriate decentralized economic decisions, create opportunities for reallocation towards social and environmental goals, and create autonomous financial and institutional capacities for marginalized communities to neutralize the structures that otherwise leave the community feeling helpless, vulnerable, and unsustainable. In light of the current economic and environmental crisis facing communities worldwide, we hope the Mapuche-led banking model will reflect what is missing in most societies: a financial element that takes value-based characteristics and embeds them into democratic financial self-governance procedures and locally appropriate strategies to pursue social and environmental returns. A savings model that reflects nature’s model. Resilience.  



Reader Comments (2)

wow, this is truly inspirational and ambitious! I wish you all the very best and please keep Savings Revolution readers updated on your progress.

Wed, January 23, 2013 | Jill Thompson

Hey Admin,

Hope you are fine and doing well. I am Sabastian from Oak View Law Group and I want to contribute an unique and relevant article at your blog savings-revolution .org
Please let me know that how many words count you allow?

Your positive reply will be highly appreciated.


Sun, February 3, 2013 | Sabastian Haan

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