Фонд поддержки лесных и фермерских хозяйств

Empowering rural dreams and sustainable development through access to finance

In the heart of Marechal Cândido Rondon, a small rural community in Brazil, Matheus Gustavo Bloedorn and his family embarked on a journey fuelled by ambition and a vision for growth. Their story is a testament to the transformative impact of Cresol, a rural credit union that has been changing the lives of countless families across Brazil.

Matheus, a Cresol associate, recognized an opportunity to diversify his family's income-generating activities. With the unwavering support of his family, they purchased their first farm and embarked on a challenging venture - a pig housing project. Despite having no prior experience in pig farming, Matheus and his family were determined to test their production capacity.

Their ambitious project required substantial financial support, where Cresol played a pivotal role. Cresol not only provided the necessary financing but also encouraged the family to incorporate sustainable practices, such as solar energy, into their operations.

Matheus fondly recalls, "Cresol is not just a credit union – it is our second family. They were the ones who believed that this dream would be possible [and] they served us with the full dedication of the team. It is also important to say that the cooperative is transparent in its results, positioning us as the owners of the branch. That is why I recommend Cresol!"

The impact of Cresol extends far beyond the Bloedorn family. Founded in 1995 by 27 family farmers with minimal capital, Cresol has grown into a powerful force for change in rural Brazil. Today, it comprises a confederation, four central credit union organizations, and 72 credit unions. With 734 local branches across 18 Brazilian provinces and states, Cresol provides financial services to more than 786,000 member families, including over 245,000 in agricultural activities. Impressively, 38.7 percent of Cresol's members are women, and 23.2 percent are youth. 

Cresol's journey began with each founding member contributing the equivalent of ten bags of corn, an investment that opened doors for them. Over time, the cooperative evolved to offer various services, including checking and savings accounts, long-term loans, personal credit, and access to productive credit available from Pronaf (Brazil's National Programme to Strengthen Family Farming). 

The cooperative's efficiency in managing Pronaf was instrumental in its expansion. Cresol now sources its credit portfolio from its members' contributions, funding lines from various banks, and international funds. This diverse funding enables Cresol to meet the significant demand for credit from its members. 

In 2021, Cresol launched its digital banking services, expanding its reach to members in 2,891 municipalities across Brazil. Agriculture remains the primary focus of Cresol's credit portfolio, reflecting its commitment to supporting rural development and sustainable farming practices.

One shining example of this commitment is the story of Waldecy Macedo de Melo from Codajás in the Amazonas. Known for its açaí forests, Codajás is a prime example of Cresol's dedication to sustainable forest management. Through agroecological and agroforestry projects, Cresol has helped farmers like Waldecy access credit through Pronaf. From virtually no access in 2015, these farmers received $298,000 in 2021, transforming their livelihoods.

Waldecy expressed his gratitude: "With Cresol's support, we formed an association to work collectively and mechanized. We have struggled, but the association with Cresol made everything go well."

Cresol has helped its members financially and through technical assistance programs like Rural Entrepreneurship. These programs improve management, resource utilization, and investments in sustainable practices.

Today, Cresol is more than just a financial institution; it drives rural development and sustainable farming in Brazil. With a clear strategic plan and a commitment to its members and the environment, Cresol continues to empower rural dreams and foster sustainable growth, one family at a time. Its journey from humble beginnings to nationwide impact is a testament to the cooperative's unwavering dedication to its mission.

Read more about Cresol and its impact on rural development in Brazil in a new report by the Forest and Farm Facility and IIED here.