Фонд поддержки лесных и фермерских хозяйств

The story of El Ceibo cocoa producers in mobilizing internal finance

El Ceibo cooperative of coca producers developed a communal financial entity to support its members to invest in improvements to their cocoa production. The creation of this internal finance mechanism made it possible to mobilise money from El Ceibo’s cooperatives to offer appropriate credit products to its members.


In the heart of Bolivia's lush cocoa-producing region, a remarkable transformation has been underway for decades. Founded in the 1970s, El Ceibo (Central Regional Agricultural Industrial Cooperatives) has grown into a second-tier cooperative forest and farm producer organization (FFPO), representing over 1,300 families dedicated to cultivating organic and Fairtrade-certified cocoa. 

El Ceibo's vision extends beyond its cocoa fields; it aspires to be a leading force for rural development in Bolivia, enhancing the lives of its members. Situated in Bolivia's cocoa-rich Alto Beni region, El Ceibo's headquarters in Palos Blancos has served as a bastion of community progress and prosperity. At the epicentre of this mission lies Alternative Finance for Development, AFID, an integral part of El Ceibo, pivotal in fostering growth, stability, and prosperity. 

Finance for Cocoa Production

AFID's suite of credit products has been tailor-made to meet the needs of El Ceibo's members and their families, who are part of various cocoa producer cooperatives. These credit offerings are crucial in supporting cocoa production and other agricultural endeavours. Among them, the 'Ratuki Credit' stands out for its speed, providing loans of up to Bs25,000 and can be disbursed within a single day. For larger projects, the 'MN Production Credit' offers financing between Bs200,001 and Bs300,000, albeit with a longer processing time and different guarantee requirements. 

To diversify its client portfolio, AFID introduced 'CrediSeguro,' aimed at salaried individuals and business owners within its operational area. This credit product requires a fixed-term deposit guarantee. 'AFID Salaried Credit' extends its reach to those earning a regular salary, irrespective of their affiliation with El Ceibo. For their personnel, 'Urgent Credit' offers quick financial assistance, disbursable within an hour with minimal documentation. 

Among its other offerings, the 'Post-COVID Reactivation and Recovery Credit' represents AFID's response to the pandemic-induced economic challenges, providing low-interest loans to support both cocoa and other crop production. 

AFID's Impact: Shaping Success

El Ceibo's growth in cocoa production and sales can be directly attributed to the invaluable support provided by AFID. Over the years, the organization has become a key player in the national market, with most of their sales occurring domestically. This transition signifies the remarkable strides made by El Ceibo in becoming a thriving social enterprise, embracing the cooperative model to its fullest potential. 

AFID's impact is profound, included among these are:

  • Financial Inclusion: AFID ensures that appropriate credit products are available for cocoa producers, tailoring borrowing conditions to their unique needs and offering competitive interest rates.
  • Efficiency and Proximity: The geographical proximity of AFID's office in Sapecho, the cocoa-producing heartland, has made it an agile and efficient service provider to cocoa producers.
  • Synergy with El Ceibo: Most AFID members are also part of El Ceibo, reaping the benefits of both organizations' support.
  • Profit Reinvestment: Although AFID currently reinvests all profits, the prospect of future profit distribution to members remains a promise. 

Notably, cocoa producers who have experienced the credit services of AFID gain an edge when applying for further loans from private banks, as their positive credit history with AFID demonstrates their reliability.

 Looking Ahead: A Bright Future

AFID began with a strong start, bolstered by the support of Pro-Rural (the Bolivian Association for Rural Development), which expedited its initial operations. However, as it matures, AFID faces the challenge of ensuring it has the technical support and skilled staff to guide it towards financial consolidation and regulatory compliance. Addressing credit arrears remains a priority to reduce its delinquency portfolio.

Financial mechanisms like AFID have a significant advantage over profit-centric conventional banking systems. AFID's focus on serving its peers and redistributing profits within El Ceibo fosters an environment where the local economy and the fight against climate change are prioritized.

As El Ceibo's AFID continues to write a tale of growth, empowerment, and prosperity, it is a shining example of how financial inclusivity, sustainability, and a cooperative spirit can transform lives and communities.


Read more about El Ceibo and Alternative Finance for Development in the recent case study by IIED here.