holistic development

Programs / Microfinance / Communities / El Cantón «

Honduras Microfinance El Canton 2015.png


Community Overview
Caja Establishment Date January 2012
Population 500
Major Professions Agriculture (Coffee, Beans and Corn)
No. of Active Caja Leaders
Stage Micro-enterprise and family Micro-businesses
Total Project Funds TBD
Social Enterprises 
funded by the Caja
 Community Bakery


Caja Statistics (as of Apr. 2014)
No. of Savings Accounts
Total Savings
Total Amount Loaned  
Number of Loans Granted
Repayment Rate
Shares Initiation Date
No. of shares sold
Price Per Share
Total Share Capital  


General Overview
Hours of Education ~140

Business Profiles coming soon!


About El Cantón

El Cantón is a community with a population of approximately 500 people
living in 91 homes. It is located in a valley belonging to the municipality
of Teupasenti, in the department of El Paraíso.  El Cantón is an
agricultural community relying on the production of coffee, corn and
beans for sustenance.  The average family only earns about 1,750
Lempiras ($90.00) per month, which averages to less than $1.00 per
person per day. Despite their arduous work schedules on the fields,

community members have been extremely invested in Global Brigades'
projects. Thanks for the joint effort of community members and Global
Brigades' volunteers and staff, all homes have access to clean water,
public health projects, access to credit via the community bank, and
will soon be able to seek medical attention in the new Health Center
being completed by the architecture program.


El Cantón's Economic Challenge

The majority of the community members rely on agricultural work to support themselves and their families. They mainly grow corn and beans to sustain their families. Some community members also grow coffee to garner a meager income. This activity is highly seasonal,  providing the families with a very fluctuating income throughout the year.  For this reason, it is tantamount for them to smooth their income over the months, to avoid falling short of resources outside harvesting periods.


Many community members work by the day for the standard pay of HNL 100 (around USD 5) as masons or peasants on others' land, but this is far from representing a stable and predictable source of income. On top of this, the agricultural activity tipically requires investments to be made beforehand, that is to say, way earlier than the crops are harvested and sold producing a revenue. It is evident that the necessary purchases of fertilizers and seed become very difficult when savings are not available. To overcome this hurdle, community members often resort to the support of 'coyotes', middlemen who exploit the lack of access to market that the people in El Canton suffer to buy their harvests directly in the community and re-sell them at much higher prices in the markets of bigger, farther away cities. Besides making big profits to the expenses of the isolated peasants, coyotes are also aware of the lack of funds to invest in fertilizers and seeds that farmers suffer from, and often lend them money in advance, discounting the amount later on when they buy the harvested crops - of course at very high interest rates.Obviously most of the problems that campesinos encounter performing their agricultural activities derive from the complete lack of access to savings and credit in the community.


Before Global Brigades helped the community establish the Caja Rural, the community had absolutely no access to any financial institution or its services. The closest savings&loans cooperative was located in Teupasenti, the little town at the bottom of the valley,  from 2 to 2 and a half hours away on foot. Only one member of the community owns a car, and very few own a motorbike, which makes the distance between El Canton and Teupasenti very complicated to overcome. For these reasons, people in El Canton were living as subsistence agriculturalists and living on a day-to-day basis.


Microfinance in El Cantón

El Cantón was the fifth community the Microfinance Program in Honduras expanded to in November 2011. The Microfinance Brigades in-country team and brigaders from fourteen different universities have worked in this community since then. During this time, staff and volunteers have worked with community members to:

  •  Train and establish a Community Rural Bank (Caja Rural)

  •  Provide educational seminars to adults and children in the community on the importance of savings.

  •  Promote voluntary savings in the community to reach a level of sustainable capital for the Caja.

  •  Door-to-door community visits to further encourage community members to trust the system of
      the community bank and open accounts to actively save.

  •  Provide community-wide workshops to sensitize community members about the importance of
      creditworthiness and reliability in repaying loans

  •  Door-to-door community visits to teach the basics of household budgeting and accounting to
      families and women

  •  Perform a market study and a feasibility analysis for the creation of a caja-owned community
      micro-entreprise, a bakery

  •  Advise the leaders of the micro-entreprise, selected among caja members, on business
     management and development techniques

  •  Start a program of family consulting to help them set up household-owned micro-businesses



Microfinance/Business Brigades Chapters that Worked in El Cantón
 Brigades Chapter Month Program Volunteers

Mount Allison University, Canada

February 2012

Microfinance 12
Yale University, USA March 2012 Microfinance 10

University of Southern California, USA

March 2012

Microfinance 17

Wake Forest Univ + Univ of California Berkeley + Duke Univ, USA 

December 2012 Microfinance  18

University of Southern California, USA

January 2013 Microfinance


Mount Allison University, Canada

February 2013 Microfinance


Indiana University, USA

March 2013 Microfinance


University of Southern California, USA

March 2013 Microfinance


Saint Louis University, USA

January 2014 Microfinance


College of Charlestone, USA

March 2014 Microfinance


University of California Los Angeles, USA

March 2014 Business



Current Status

Last Visit: April 20, 2014

Our work in El Cantón is not done yet. The Business program has just entered and started an ambitious plan to further empower community members through family-based consulting, aimed at developing more and more family-run microbusinesses. In the meantime, the local bakery is flourishing and the members of the Caja have nearly doubled over the first two years of activity. The next big goal is for the Caja members to complete the construction of the caja's proprietary building, where caja- and community-wide meetings will be held and a community library will be arranged.


Visit Other Programs in El Cantón

Global Brigades strives to implement a model of Holistic Development in communities through a system of collectively implementing health, economic, and education initiatives to strategically meet a community's development goals. Learn more about the other programs being implemented in El Cantón:

Medical 2014 Icon Small.pngMedical Dental 2014 Icon Small.pngDentalEngineering 2014 Icon Small.pngEngineeringWater 2014 Icon Small.pngWaterPublic Health 2014 Icon Small.pngPublic HealthBusiness 2014 Icon Small.png BusinessArchitecture 2014 Icon Small.pngArchitectureCHW 2014 Icon Grey.pngCHW