Since 2012, MAPLE Chile has worked With Mapuche communities to help create a community-powered finance tool that fits their traditional values and culture.

Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions.
— U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of 2007, Article 4.


MAPLE Chile works with Mapuche communities who are in search for autonomous economic development in their ancestral lands, and we share with our partners the belief in that solutions of such demands should be articulated directly from the Mapuche communities themselves. MAPLE Chile assists since 2012 Mapuche communities in the formulation and implementation of autonomous Microdevelopment models with the goal to support their cultural identity, building on the cohesion and leadership of indispensable achievements by some of these Mapuche communities. MAPLE Chile aims to provide these services to a dozen Mapuche communities by the year 2020.

MAPLE Chile offers a quality assessment to learn, constitute, and develop mechanisms of micro-financing in self-determined Mapuche communities, from a multidimensional perspective that includes not only the environment, but also the cultural, and that it manifests in community self-management. We count on the support of Friends of MAPLE, MAPLE’s Board of Directors, and independent organizations who have funded our work since the beginning: The Bay and Paul Foundations and First Peoples Worldwide.



In 2012, the small Indigenous (Mapuche-Lafkenche) community of Llaguepulli, located in the Lake Budi basin in coastal Araucanía Region, northern Patagonia, invited MAPLE to partner with them to create from the bottom-up a missing link in their vision for self-determination and sustainability:  A Culturally Appropriate Community-managed Financial Institution that serves Mapuche priorities, cultural values and land ethics.

In June 2014 we completed a 1-year preparatory pre-implementation process combining action-research and broad community dialogues to create goals, commitments and by-laws, that led 25 Mapuche women, men, youth and elders, to gather together as founding members of the first Mapuche Mutual Support Group, a community-powered financing tool that is now servicing  indigenous self-determination. Essential to the success and impact of this financing tool has been the creation of a community-based management team composed of four Mapuche women leaders. Please see more in the Bios page.

As of November of 2016, the Llaguepulli’s Mutual Support Group is now in its third cycle of collective saving, serving 40 members and taking a life and identity of its own whose mission is to safeguard one of the world's remaining ancient linkages between culture, environment, and economies. The community-based team, with support of MAPLE, IS at the same time putting to practice income-generation strategies to sustain operations autonomously.

In addition to developing this multidimensional framework for holistic impact and self-management, and after careful dialogues and agreements, MAPLE Chile is in the midst of replicating for the first time the preparatory processes to create a second Mapuche-owned community-powered finances, this time with Malalwe-Chanko, a neighboring Mapuche-Lafkenche community in the Budi basin.


“Mapuche” means “people of the land.” They are the original inhabitants of the temperate rainforests of the southern cone, where the Andes Mountains meet the Patagonia.  The Budi Lake region is home to 14,000 indigenous Mapuche-Lafkenche (“People of the Sea”) who have coexisted for centuries with the diverse and rich ecosystems of this unique salty lake, passing on their language, sense of stewardship, ceremonies and ecological knowledge to newer generations.

In recent decades, however, they have suffered the highest poverty rates (60%) , environmental degradation and outmigration of women and youth, in a country whose income gap remains one of the highest in Latin America. In 2002, the Budi region was designated Conservation Priority Zone for its importance to regional biological conservation of dozens of endemic and migratory species. Yet without effective mechanisms for local governance, communities’ socio-environmental vulnerability lingers, and the ecosystems continue to be at risk. 

For the past few generations, The Llaguepulli Community members have been leading peaceful initiatives to overcome historic marginalization and vulnerability by building economic and institutional self-sufficiency for the preservation of land and culture. Families of Llaguepulli have developed a vibrant, communally structured ethno-ecotourism network ( and other innovative community programs, including the only school in Chile managed by Mapuche people with classes taught in the Mapudungun language.

While the Llaguepulli community is leading the way to becoming more financially independent, they have recognized the need to establish a community-managed financial services institution that fits their cultural values and needs, and could serve as a model for other communities in southern Chile.



Since early 2015, the MAPLE/Llaguepulli collaborative has expanded its aims towards community-driven multidimensional benchmarks linked to social, cultural, environmental and economic goals of the community. So we´d like to fill you in a bit on some of this work we have been doing as of October 2016,

  •   With support from international allies and local agencies, we are providing participatory design and investment in appropriate technologies for strengthening family foods and livelihoods.
  •   We are developing community-led methods for environmental management, with a focus in gradual recuperation of forests, soils and waters through agroforestry, tree nursing, and composting and fertilizing using locally available resources, such as algae.
  • In the cultural and educational management area, we are working with the community school to establish a strong basis for income generation, and with two different groups of artisan women.

At the heart of these goals are the aspirations of honoring the process of Mapuche self-determination, and strengthening of Mapuche Traditional Authorities; improving wellbeing of Lafkenche families by increasing their access to resources, and increasing their resilience by improving their ability to autonomously pursue their own social and environmental goals.