Isabel Cruz Hernández

Ashoka Fellow
Mexico,
Fellow Since 1994
Asociación Mexicana de Uniones de Crédito del Sector Social A.C. (AMUCSS)

Citation

This profile was prepared when Isabel Cruz Hernández was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1994.
The New Idea
After years of working with rural peasant movements in Mexico, Isabel Cruz concluded that it was necessary to create a credit system that would foster small-scale local development. In order to accommodate its modernization policies and the agricultural provisions of NAFTA, the government of Mexico has reoriented the nation's production away from corn and other basic grains to export crops such as fruits and vegetables. In the process, all access to credit, technical assistance and marketing for agriculture has come to favor those with the resources to mass-produce export crops. There is no system to provide credit or other services to ejidatarios, those who work rural land under the ejidos system of communal property rights established in the 1910 revolution, and other members of the peasant sector.
The ejidatarios communeros (communal land owners), small owners and settlers constitute the mainstay of a rural subsistence economy that is in danger of disappearing. Isabel believes that they can modernize it on their own terms if they have adequate economic tools. She has selected those who have already organized themselves into savings cooperatives called peasant credit unions, which bring together small producers with common needs. Isabel's project provides mechanisms for these isolated credit unions to move beyond the their pooled mutual savings and acquire financing from third parties in a model that can be replicated beyond the states of Sonora, Zacatecas and Hidalgo, where it originated.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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