Bolivia

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In a population of 10 million about 4 million Bolivians live below the national poverty line. The percentage is higher in rural areas, where three out of four people live in poverty. Indigenous communities, women and young people are particularly vulnerable to poverty and food insecurity.

Although it is a lower-middle-income country with continued economic growth and gross national income of US$4,920 per capita, Bolivia has significant income inequality between different population groups and geographic areas. The country ranks 108th out of 187 countries on the United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Index.

Program Overview

Five Talents has worked with Seeds of Blessing in Bolivia since 2009 to reach out to families living in extreme poverty. Seeds of Blessing helps the poorest people restore relationships and fight against poverty by helping them recover their dignity and become protagonists in their own development. The program facilitates small businesses development through microcredit services and Biblical business skills training in Tarija and its surrounding communities.

Participants join small savings groups and receive training in budgeting, saving, cost of credit, business planning, nutrition and discipleship. They also learn how to invest and grow their businesses. With their savings and loans, Seeds of Blessing clients are able to improve their businesses and cover their basic food, health, education, housing, and business needs. Currently 267 families are members and 75% describe the biggest changes in their lives as having savings and being brave enough to improve their lives.

Training Focus

  • Budgeting and saving in the household
  • Business ideas, planning, marketing, price setting
  • Christian discipleship and values in business
  • Preventative health, appropriate technology where there are no basic services, nutrition classes

Partners

  • Semillas de Bendicion (Seeds of Blessings), Tarija, Bolivia
  • Anglican Diocese of Bolivia
  • Association of Evangelical Churches of Tarija
Members of community savings groups and their families in Tarija, Bolivia

The Community

The Department of Tarija is located in the Southeastern part of Bolivia and borders Argentina to the south and Paraguay to the east.  The Department is divided into six provinces, and is home to 20 different indigenous tribes with Spanish being the shared language.  The city of Tarija is located in a high and dry mountain valley at an altitude of 1850 meters. 

Women in these communities are primarily engaged in work on family farms, with limited access to financial, health or education services. The average number of years of schooling for rural women is only 2.5 years, while it is 4.7 years for men. Seasonal migration among the men is very high in some regions of the country, which leaves women, in many of the cases, as heads of the household. Based on group survey results, the average client is in her 40's, has a primary school education, and will describe herself as a housewife. More than 30% are not able to buy a minimum food basket to feed their family. The average initial loan of $14 USD reflects success in our effort to reach the most disadvantaged with appropriate levels of credit and extensive training.

Empowering the citizens of Tarija with business and personal finance skills are essential aspects of stimulating economic growth and improving unemployment. This partnership focuses on women’s groups in the city of Tarija as well as groups in rural communities, including El Puente, Entre Rios, Calamuchita and Valle Concepción.  These groups target those populations unable to access services from the limited microfinance industry in Tarija due to geographic or economic barriers.

With their savings and loans, Seeds of Blessing clients are able to improve their businesses and cover their basic food, health, education, housing, and business needs. Currently, 267 families are members and 75% describe the biggest changes in their lives as having savings and being brave enough to improve their lives.

Bolivia Impact Statistics

The Need

In the next year, we hope to expand outreach in the Tarija area to reach new communities. There are also ongoing needs for staff, training, and mentoring of savings group leaders.

We'd appreciate your continued prayers for this small but transformative program. Please help us expand our work in Bolivia either by making a one-time donation or by signing up to "Walk with Us" as a recurring donor. A monthly gift of as little as $10 will transform up to five lives: