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CONFRAS is a confederation for agrarian reform in El Salvador founded in the 1980s. It was born out of the need to further land reform efforts following the Salvadoran civil war which began in 1979.
The organization focuses on five main areas, including a) defending agricultural reform through land access, agrarian rights and technical assistance, b) promoting sustainable agricultural development based on a model of food sovereignty and gender equality, c) providing services to affiliates focused on social development and productive economics such as agricultural loans, education, commercialization, etc. d) influencing public policy to improve agricultural and rural development, and e) strengthening CONFRAS’s member organizations.
CONFRAS represents 107 cooperatives with a total membership of approximately 4,000 farmers. Those cooperatives in turn are organized into seven federations. The represented cooperatives are not savings and loan cooperatives; rather, they work together to reclaim land that was previously re-allocated to the landed elite and take advantage of resources that the current government has opened up to producers through technical assistance, financing and more.
CONFRAS offers its member cooperatives access to financing through a program called PROCAMPO (Agricultural Loan Program for Organization, Women and Production). In 2012, 300 loan recipients received training in personal finances, understanding microcredit and budgeting in addition to agricultural technical assistance. Kiva lenders’ funds are used to help CONFRAS expand its loan portfolio within the PROCAMPO program and impact more Salvadoran farmers who are otherwise excluded from most MFIs.
A unique lending approach
CONFRAS works toward its five main goals through two distinct mechanisms. First, it executes specific projects with the help of international organizations. Second, it acts as a lobbyist and an advisor to politicians, in order to influence policies that will benefit its members.
CONFRAS loan portfolio is administered by a cooperative called ACAF de R.L. (Savings and Loan Cooperative “La Fuente”). La Fuente is independent of CONFRAS and disburses loans to non-CONFRAS members, although 80% of the loan portfolio consists of PROCAMPO funds. La Fuente’s only office is in San Salvador and it offers savings, remittances and bill pay services. The cooperative disburses business, consumption and agricultural loans.