Community members in Ipeti Embera have not had access to financial resources within the community until recently. In order to gain access, members had to travel to Tortí, a 30-minute bus ride, however not all community members can become members of the savings and loan cooperative in Tortí. Cooperatives require monthly membership fees, and coupled with the cost of travel and the lack of land titles as an indigenous community, less than 5% of community members are part of the cooperative, and 100% of the community has never accessed a loan from Tortí. Larger financial institutions, which are inaccessible due to distance and cost, do not approve loans to community members without a fixed income, making it very difficult for local micro-enterprises to grow and thrive.
With Global Brigades support Ipeti Embera established community bank in early 2014. With the opening of the community bank, community members have access to credit for the first time, and access to a savings account for the first time. Berta and Eligio have five children together, and the eldest is 19 years old. In the past, Eligio had worked in construction in the city. As the lifestyle in the city didn’t appeal to him, he decided to return to the community and work alongside his father on their land. Berta and Egelio in gorwing organic corn, ginger and plantains. They have some basic farming knowledge and collect seeds in order to save on seed purchase.