Jean Claude Rodríguez-Ferrera
This profile was prepared when Jean Claude Rodríguez-Ferrera was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2006.
The New Idea
Jean Claude is providing full social and economic citizenship to Spain’s immigrants by bringing them together in cooperatives that help them access the services they need to become entrepreneurs and professionals rather than welfare dependants. Jean Claude has created small Self-Managed Financial Communities among immigrants with scarce economic resources in order to meet their basic financial needs. Employing a simple, self-sustaining system of savings and loans, the members of these communities are able to access products and services (micro-credit, micro-insurance, and consumer products) that help them get ahead financially. These financial communities also play an important role in providing a “relational network” for immigrants who have left behind their social ties in their countries of origin. This network is critical for making contacts, finding jobs, and providing a financial fallback in case of emergency or unforeseen circumstances. For those needs that the groups cannot satisfy on their own, Jean Claude is collaborating with companies to help them develop products and services specifically aimed at immigrants. In this way, Jean Claude is demonstrating the economic potential of this new market to the business sector while demonstrating to immigrants the power of community and network as a way to get ahead financially and begin forging an identity other than that of immigrant.