March 26, 2004

Latino Heads Rotary’s District Village Bank

Rotarian David Ballesteros, M.B.A., Ph.D., President-Elect and International Director of La Mesa Sunrise Rotary, will be the District Village Bank Chair for next year. Together with funds from four other Rotary Clubs, the group is sponsoring a Village Bank Program in Equador. He is a Dean Emeritus, and a Former Professor of Spanish and Cross-Cultural Education at the UCSD Imperial Valley Campus in Heber and Calexico.

Ballesteros is a Dean Emeritus, and a Former Professor of Spanish and Cross-Cultural Education at the UCSD Imperial Valley Campus in Heber and Calexico, he received his PhD. In Latin American Studies, an MA in Spanish, and an MBA with an emphasis in Management.

Rotarians (from left to right), Phill Dotts, David Ballestreros, Delta Collins, Bob Fenner, and Edward Knight.

The other Rotary clubs are Brawley, Chaired by Phil Dotts and Sheila R. Kruger the President; Escondido, Chaired by its President, George Beitner and the District Assistant Governor elect; Lemon Grove, Chaired by Russell Boehmke, the President, and Rancho Bernardo, chaired by Lt. Tom Richards, International Chair. The Clubs’ contribution, together with “matching funds” from the Rotary District and Rotary International will bring the total investment in Equador’s Village Bank to $20,000.00.

This is an international “Village Bank,” “Communal Bank,” or “Micro Credit” program formed primarily to help reduce the number of women in extreme poverty. Rotary provides the money to establish the bank and supervises the non-governmental program that is usually administered by local, native women following an extensive training period.

Two-thirds of the women of the world make less than $1.00 a day. Seventy-Five percent of the working population of Equador makes less than $1.00 a day. In many impoverished countries, like Bangladesh and Ecuador, women “borrow” a supplier’s materials; make products; and sell them back, netting only 2 cents for a day’s work. Through the Village Bank system, a woman can borrow from $10.00 to $100.00; purchase her materials; start her own business; and become self-sufficient. She is free to sell her products to anyone she wishes at her own price.

To provide a repayment incentive and to help enlarge the fund, the loan bears interest of 20%, all of which goes into the capital of the bank to be used for the women. Even so, the payback rate ranges from 94% to 98%. Several women often form a joint venture giving more pressure for loan repayment and a feeling of solidarity. As they become more successful and have a proven payback rate, the amount available to them increases. Only a year ago, such a bank was established in the famous Mayan ruins of Pa-lenque in Mexico. There are already 200 borrowers using this bank.

Through the Village Bank programs, Rotary further provides other benefits to women such as training in Business Administration, Marketing, Sales, Mathematics, Self-esteem, Disease Prevention, Good Health, Hygiene, and Literacy. Many women are unable to sign their name or make simple computations before they enter the program. When a Bank is started, they are taught to develop a Savings Plan and look ahead to problems. Through the program, women learn about how free enterprise works; how to repay loans; and how to make monthly payments. Rotary believes helping women who are mothers will help educate working children. The bank makes it possible to release these children from work to go to school.

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