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Blog post author Jake Matlak and Community Bank members from Sierra San Francisco put their heads together to talk savings!

Developing and fostering relationships has always been an integral part of our mission at Philanthropiece. Recently we have taken interesting steps forward in the development of our Community Banks Program by strengthening relationships with other organizations operating in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Having already inspired over 300 individuals in communities throughout  the region to begin a culture of savings and loans, our collaborations have now opened new outlets for a more targeted vision of saving.

We are currently in conversations with COBI (Comunidad y Biodiversidad), a civil association in Mexico dedicated to the conservation of coastal biodiversity throughout the country. COBI is  managing a project on Isla Magdalena, located off the western coast of Baja California Sur, dedicated to the sustainable reconstruction of a community devastated by Hurricane Jimena in 2009. COBI has partnered with another Mexican organization called ¡Échale! a tu casa that trains community residents in the use of adobe block production using local materials. COBI and ¡Echale! a tu casa have developed a program that will train people in new construction skills, boost the local economy, create solid, affordable homes for families, and protect local ecosystems. They are also determined to empower community members to generate the necessary funds to buy into this project themselves. The missing piece is a well-structured methodology for encouraging families to save for their houses, and that is where Philanthropiece’s Community Banks program comes into play.

Without access to formal savings and loans institutions, community member on Isla Magdalena have little hope of financing the construction of their own home. This is why COBI reached out to us at Philanthropiece to join in the endeavor and to develop a community banks model specifically catered to the needs of these citizens. We are encouraged that our experience with community banks is becoming known throughout the region, and that it may serve other groups with a similar vision. Our efforts and our resources can have exponential impact when they are used to strengthen local capacity and tie into existing social networks and organizations. Stay posted as our exploration of a partnership with COBI – and other Mexican civil associations – continues to evolve!
Jake MatlakAs Philanthropiece’s Associate Director of Programs, Jake Matlak supports with the development of our Community Bank Program in Baja, Mexico. Jake keeps himself healthy and community-minded by biking to work, serving his community of Boulder, CO (most recently with flood relief efforts), and participating as a member of Boulder’s food cooperative, The Second Kitchen.