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Microfinance Internship

(Ibarra – Ecuador)

(Note: Please excuse us for any grammar or spelling errors since some writings may be provided by our local coordinators in Ecuador and English is not their native language.)

Ibarra is located 2.5 hours north of Quito and from here the communications to other destinations are very good. It is a small city with nice weather and most of the time it is warm and very pleasant. One can find most of what is needed such as internet, supermarkets, banks, bars, restaurants etc.

Ibarra is located in the province of Imbabura and it is known as the “Province of Lakes” for its many lakes that can be visited. It is totally surrounded by mountain and there are plenty of parks, waterfalls and small Indigenous villages to visit.

In Otavalo, about 20 minutes from Ibarra, the biggest market in Ecuador takes place every Saturday and here you find typical handcrafts from the Indigenous people in the whole area.

The microcredit Project is called CACMU “COOPERATIVA DE AHORRO Y CREDITO MUJERES UNIDAS” which started with the idea to help those in faraway communities who never had accessibility to big cities where they could get a credit to for example improve their agriculture or to start their own small businesses.

The idea was to associate and help people from the Indigenous communities around Ibarra but in this town we also have a lot of mixed people and African Ecuadorian so the cooperative started with 13 groups of mix people, African Ecuadorians and Indigenous who made a total of 130 members and a seed capital of 16000 USD. After seeing the success they started to make, an organization from the U.S.A decided to give them a no reimbursement credit to increase their capital and in this way increase the number of people that could be helped.

As the need of these micro-credits were so big out in communities, they nowadays have helped to start local “CAJAS DE CREDITO” that are working similar as the cooperatives but are smaller and though they are run independently with the local people. CACMU keeps providing technical support to the people in the rural areas and often go there to reassure that everything is working smooth. They also has a truck that works as a mobile office and with this they have a great chance to visit remote communities.

CACMU is well organized and they give credits to those who really need them. They have their department of credit where they do all the analysis of the credit. Since people applying for it are with low income, they do not always present their projects of business with well constructed numbers. It makes people from this department work hard on restructuring their ideas and make sure that they will have the correct amount. The department of credit also follows the investment of the credit to make sure that the credit can be paid. Due to the good and hard work of the cooperative, the lack of payment or default of the payment percentage is 3%, which is very low.

The micro credits are often for a short time of a year or two and the interest is at the moment 20% per year. This might sound high but banks in Ecuador would ask for even more for this kind of loan and the payback rate is very high in the cooperative.

Most of the credits in the cooperative is connected to community agriculture like buying animals, buy seeds, open small stores, buy tools or to repair the infrastructure of their farms.


Volunteers are needed to help with the day to day tasks like evaluation of applicants, but they also need help to build up their computer system to get a better overview of everything and to keep control over everything when they keep growing. If participants also can help looking for international organizations that would be interested to help and get involved in the cooperative with maybe finances, it would help a lot.


CV/RESUME in word and clear passport scan.
Some experience or education within the financial field required.
Interest in working with people.
Adaptability and open-mindedness to work and live in a very different culture.
At least basic Spanish is required
4 weeks minimum.


Intermediate Spanish.
High intermediate Spanish or higher.
At least 6 to 8 weeks is recommended.


Normally about 08:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday, with break for lunch.


Semiformal clothing’s in case of formal meetings.
A laptop to be able to work easier as the cooperative doesn’t have any extra computers to work on.
USB memory might be good to have if they need to take some documents to be printed out.


New Year’s Day, 01 of January
Carnival, 10-12 of February
Good Friday, 29 of March
Easter Saturday, 30 of March
Easter Sunday, 31 of March
Labor Day, 01 of May
Battle of Pichincha, 24 of May
Ecuador’s Independence Day or Quito Independence Day, 10 of August
Guayaquil Independence Day, 11 of October (moved from 09 of October)
All Souls Day or Day of the Dead, 02 of November
Cuenca Independence Day, 03 of November
Christmas Eve, 24 of December
Christmas Day, 25 of December
New Year’s Eve, 31 of December


Participants will stay with a family in Ibarra about 40 minutes away from the office.
They have 3 meals with the family, but sometimes participants have a hard time to get home for lunch due to work. In this case, participants can either get a simple lunch-box from the family or they will eat at a restaurant at their own expense.

Participants will have a single room with shared bathroom.


Participants have to arrive to Quito for at least the first day when we have the orientation. If they want Spanish classes they will of course stay for a while before heading to the location of their work.

When it’s time to leave Quito they will take a cab service for about $8 to Ibarra from the host family that we help to arrange. On arrival to Ibarra after traveling for about 2.5 hours, the family will be waiting for them at their house.

The host mother or father will then accompany the participant to the office to get them
introduced the first working day so they also know how to get there and get back home.

They normally walk to the office but if they feel like they can walk half way and then take a bus for $0.25 one way. Also, calculate some money for transportation if working outside the office around in the communities.


Economics students that are interesting to learn about how they work in the cooperatives.
Or anyone who is interested in the experience of doing Microfinance work abroad.


Spanish is definitely important as well as experience about finances and micro credits. For a university student this could be a challenging and good experience for their future studies and work within the field.