Microfinances and productive projects with indigenous communities in Mexico

CAD carries out the final evaluation of a financing programme for marginalized groups in Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero on behalf of the Inter-American Development Bank.

In 1997, the Inter-American Development Bank approved the establishment of the Financing Facility for Small Projects and Technical Cooperation for Marginalized Groups in the Southeast of Mexico, with a total amount of 15 million US$. The objectives of this Programme were to improve the economic and income generating possibilities of economically marginalized populations by supporting the creation and development of viable micro enterprises; strengthen organizations in the region that support local economic development, and improve communication between local governments and the communities in such a way that better social services could be given to the population. The financing programme was unique in the time of its creation, on the one hand because it was decentralized for the first time in the Representation of the Bank in México, and on the other hand because it introduced a bottom-up approach based on existing social initiatives for the identification, selection and implementation of the projects, and provided financing directly to small projects carried out by most vulnerable groups of the population.

The southeast of Mexico is the poorest region of the country. According to the Human Development Index (HDI), Chiapas is the least developed state, followed by Oaxaca and Guerrero. At the same time, these three states have the highest level of marginalization, with all socioeconomic indicators being far below the national average. Additionally, within the region, there exist considerable differences between the HDI and its components reached by the indigenous and non-indigenous population, being lower in all cases for the indigenous population. In this context, regional social conflicts persist that were caused by the long-term marginalization of mostly indigenous population, like the Zapatista movement of  Chiapas 1994 or the popular protest of Oaxaca 2006. This situation being already a difficult environment for economic activity, another problem is the very limited access to financing opportunities especially for micro entrepreneurs or small producers in rural areas.

In this context, in order to know the impact generated by the Financing Facility for Small Projects and Technical Cooperation for Marginalized Groups in the Southeast of Mexico, to be able to identify main challenges and opportunities and to formulate recommendations considering a possible replication of the financing model in the region, the Inter-American Development Bank commissioned the consortium formed by Iber-Geo Consulting and CAD – Centre of Partnerships for Development to carry out the final evaluation of the programme. On the basis of documentary analysis as well as quantitative and qualitative data collection in the field, the programme was analyzed comprehensively, considering its different components and levels involved in its implementation, as well as results and impacts generated. From a sectorial perspective, the evaluation considered four different areas: micro finance and rural credit, agricultural, gender and community development.