DURANIA, Colombia — Vicky Abreo runs a small convenience store out of the front of her home, selling a little bit of everything to neighbors along her small mountaintop dirt road. This area of the municipality, known as La Cuchilla, is about two hours by bus on winding, partially paved mountain roads from the closest big city, Cúcuta.
With no way to learn about formal financial services and planning, this distance made it difficult for her to save money and grow her business. But three years ago, she began participating in a savings cooperative in her town. Membership gives her access to additional capital for her store through loans from the credit union, as well as a low-cost savings account.
“Here in our houses we didn’t save, but now that they’ve given us this ability, it’s a very viable thing for us to begin to save,” Abreo said, sitting in the enclosed porch behind her storefront. “And if you have a savings account, you can get a loan.”
Formerly one of many rural Colombians who were unbanked, she now leads the cooperative group once a month, helping other community members learn about the importance of saving.
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