This profile was prepared when Juan Padilla was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2000.
The New Idea
Building on the ten years he spent leading a nonprofit organization that lends microcredit to small-scale entrepreneurs in Argentina, Juan is developing a model that offers bank loans to civil society organizations. Significantly larger loans allow organizations to develop their capacity and sustainability through infusions of working capital and fixed asset investment. Civil society groups can access one-year credits of up to $500,000 with interest set at the best available rates and borrowing criteria, similar to those governing traditional clients, which promotes the adoption of more businesslike practices. The credit line is provided by four private banks, each of which will make available.$2.5 million and will make lending decisions according to the banks' credit committee, guaranteed by funds backed by a prestigious international banking institution. By educating banks about the financial needs of civil society organizations and helping organizations understand the potential benefits of credit, Juan bridges the long-standing gap between the two sectors so that banks can gain access to a profitable new market at very low risk and nonprofit organizations can grow well beyond former institutional boundaries.