Low oil prices and a series of natural disasters led to a severe economic crisis in the late 1990s. High inflation and depreciation of the sucre led the government to adopt the U.S. dollar as Ecuador's currency in 1999. Dollarization has stabilized the economy and growth has returned to pre-crisis levels, due mainly to currently high oil prices.
Growth in employment in petroleum extraction has had little impact on Ecuador's impoverished women and people outside drilling zones. Some 41 percent of Ecuadorians live in poverty. The unemployment rate is 10.7 percent, but 47 percent of the population is underemployed. Some 68 percent of workers are in services, 24 percent are in industry and eight percent in agriculture.
Climate for microfinance:
• In 2004, FINCA Ecuador transformed from an NGO into a financiera, a regulated financial institution, permitting it to offer a wider range of financial products.
• In 2008 FINCA Ecuador obtained its banking license with the name Banco FINCA
• Ecuador's frequent political crises affect relatively few of FINCA's clients, because most are able to rapidly transition to new businesses as needs and opportunities dictate.
• The microfinance industry in Ecuador has become very competitive, as new MFIs have entered the market.
FINCA Ecuador (Founded 1993)
FINCA Ecuador was recently honored with FINCA's "Golden Tree" award to recognize their years of dedication and hard work. FINCA Ecuador offices and branches are located in Quito, Tulcán, Ibarra, Santo Domingo, Guayaquil, La Libertad, Portoviejo, Loje, Chone and Quevedo.
FINCA Ecuador's clients are primarily mothers who are often the key breadwinners in their families. In terms of economic activity, 75 percent are involved in commerce and restaurants, nine percent work in manufacturing or production, nine percent in services, four percent in agriculture and four percent in other businesses.
Our Ecuadorian clients have accumulated the largest pool of savings from business operations in the entire FINCA network.
Meet Maria Lucia Potosi Ramirez
FINCA EcuadorClients: 47,773
Village Banking groups: 3,586
Percent women: 71%
Average loan: $1,269
Loans outstanding: $39,305,154
Services: Village Banking and individual credit, micro-insurance
Geography: Located between Colombia and Peru in western South America, bordering the Pacific Ocean at the Equator and encompassing the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador suffers frequent earthquakes, volcanic activity, landslides, floods and droughts. It is about the size of Nevada.
Population: 13.5 million
Ethnicities: Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 65%, Amerindian 25%, Spanish and others 7%, black 3%
Religions: Roman Catholic 95%, other 5%
Average life expectancy: 63.9
Median age: 23.9 years
Literacy: 92.5 percent
* Program information is updated on a monthly basis from reports from the field.