Women aspiring to and shaping a fair and sustainable future

Immerse yourself in the inspiring stories of Eleneora, an entrepreneur from Peru, and Sheila, Investment Manager in Latin America at Alterfin.


Women aspiring to and shaping a fair and sustainable future

Immerse yourself in the inspiring stories of Eleneora, an entrepreneur from Peru, and Sheila, Investment Manager in Latin America at Alterfin.

Eleneora Davila De Mendivil, a client of the microfinance institution Arariwa in Peru

Let's meet Eleneora, a member of the 100% female village bank of Padre Eterno in the Cusco region of Peru, financed by our new partner, Arariwa.

For 40 years, the Arariwa association has been financing village banks for financial inclusion for the most excluded individuals. It focuses primarily on rural development and pays particular attention to the services and opportunities offered to women.

  • What is a village bank? A village bank, also called a village fund or "village banking," refers to a self-managed group operating usually in rural areas, that relies on solidarity and geographical proximity to offer comprehensive financial services of credit and savings to marginalized populations. These banks play a key role in combating poverty and local development, enabling excluded populations to access basic financial services and participate in the economy.

Arariwa's advantageous loans, with monthly payments and conditions much more affordable and faster than those of traditional banks, are essential in supporting the economic and social development of the most vulnerable Peruvian families.

Beyond loans, Arariwa also encourages its clients to save and invest in their own village banks, thereby strengthening their autonomy and control over their finances, promoting and developing a real culture of credit and savings.

"We hope to achieve significant impacts on at least 4 levels: at the personal level (empowerment), family, in their businesses, and in their communities," explains Hugo Ramiro Yanque Martínez, Executive Director of Arariwa Microfinance.

"The real advantage of working with Arariwa is being able to manage one's credit," explains Eleneora.

"This may seem trivial," she says, "but before I knew about Arariwa, access to credit was limited for women. So, my relationship with the association allowed me to have capital to continue my economic activity, which consists of distributing medicines to small pharmacies in the Cusco region."

Access to capital is far from the only advantage, according to Eleneora. Indeed, the promotion of solidarity within the group, within the village banks, is one of the major strengths of the association's modus operandi.

"The members of Padre Eterno know each other. In case of problems or crises, there is a strong willingness for each of us to help each other," says Eleneora. A dynamic that fosters confidence and responsibility among the members.

Whether it's learning to be disciplined in their commitments or learning to save, members of the Padre Eterno village bank literally uplift each other through a constant and transparent exchange of know-how and good governance among them.

"Our commitment to Arariwa makes us feel comfortable when we think about our investments," says Eleneora.

"We have learned to invest better and save better. This has strengthened our self-confidence and self-esteem. We hope to inspire other women in our communities and in the region in general."

Thanks to their savings, Padre Eterno members continue to develop their businesses, finance their children's education, and build their wealth. "In short, our savings have allowed us to achieve our dreams," concludes Eleneora.

Her story is a powerful testimony to the transformative power of financial inclusion and community collaboration.

Arariwa has provided the essential framework, but it is Eleneora, the other members of Padre Eterno, and all the members of other village banks who are building a better future for their communities, where "opportunity" and "empowerment" are not just words but a tangible and lived reality.

Sheila Falen, Investment Manager in Latin America at Alterfin

With over 12 years of experience in impact investment, Sheila, a passionate mother and advocate for women's rights, supports a variety of partners in Argentina, Colombia, and Peru.

Today, she shares her unique perspective on the role and impact of women in Latin America.

"Working in the impact investment sector has given me the opportunity to stay connected to real-world issues and make a real difference in my community," explains Sheila.

"In this sense, I am grateful for the influence of my grandmother, who instilled in me a passion for advocating for women's rights, guiding my choice to work with organizations such as Alterfin."

She observes the situation in Latin America and states: "Gender equality is vital for economic progress and sustainable development."

Sheila also asserts:

"Women and the environment are a natural alliance," she says. "Their sensitivity to environmental and social initiatives makes women valuable allies in the fight against climate change."

"In Latin America, women play important roles and are recognized in fields such as human relations, personnel management, marketing, sales, coaching, and the health and personal care sector."

However, they face many obstacles, as Sheila points out: "Violence, wage disparities, difficulties in balancing work and personal life, lack of access to quality education, and lack of knowledge sharing are all hindrances to their development."

"To allow the initiatives and businesses of these women to scale," Sheila emphasizes, "all actors in society should unite to create a more inclusive and safer world for women."

Sheila and Alterfin remain committed to the fight for gender equality in Latin America.

By giving women a special place in our investment policy and strategy, we succeed in influencing the inclusivity of many of our partners. This constant and growing interest in more gender equality offers new perspectives to the women we support through them.

How exactly? Let's explore Alterfin's "Gender Lens Investment Strategy."

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