By Lorena Gil, Kiva Fellow/KF12, Fondo Esperanza – Chile
On my first official day at Fondo Esperanza I was quickly whisked to a press release event already underway at a local communal centre in Santiago, Chile, where socias (borrowers) of Fondo Esperanza conduct local weekly meetings.

The Ministry of Planning and Cooperation (Mideplan) of Chile chose this location to reveal  the results of the national socio-economic survey (Casen 2009) which showed an increasing income gap between the poorest and the richest. In conjunction, a UN Report showed Chile to have the same level of social disparity as Uruguay and Honduras.  The results of Casen 2009 show the first decline since 1998.  

Mideplan Minister Felipe Kast, gave three reasons for the deterioration in the distribution of wealth in Chile. First, the economic crisis last year, “more strongly affected the most vulnerable through the loss of jobs.” On the other hand, Kast pointed to the drop in economic productivity, limiting the economy’s response to the crisis. He also said the government should be more rigorous in the targeting of social spending.

The setting also drew attention to 30 women micro-enterprisers who testified to their achievements surpassing these social difficulties. The ministry celebrates their achievements and products, supported by Fondo Esperanza and the Sernam.  A couple of socias proudly displayed their products hand-made flowers, crafted wooden gift boxes, inspiring paintings on wood, and delicious desserts.

Minister Felipe noted, “Nos queda mucho por avanzar en la igualdad de oportunidades”. “No podemos tolerar que las brechas sigan avanzando”.  “Que tu origen no determine tu destino es la meta”. (There is much work to be done to advance equal opportunities. We can not tolerate the gaps going forward. The status you are born into should not determine your destiny is the goal).

For me it was great to see socias from Fondo Esperanza receiving the recognition they deserve.  They were quite enthusiastic to be surrounded by newscasters and the Minister walking around asking questions about their products and process.  For many of these women it was the first time they were centre stage and it was quite pleasing to observe the Minister reaching out to Fondo Esperanza, which to me reveals how the work of this MFI is viewed as making a social impact.  

Fondo Esperanza (FE) is currently the largest Chilean microfinance organization and is proudly Kiva’s first microfinance partner in Chile!  To view & read the bios of all the loans Fondo Esperanza has uploaded to Kiva to date, click here!

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