Since 2006, we have fostered partnerships with communities throughout the world to cultivate sustainable projects.
MAPLE Microdevelopment builds the skills, resources, and conditions necessary for persons living in impoverished regions of the world to achieve financial independence and foster the well-being of their families and communities across generations.
MAPLE Microdevelopment began in 2006 as a microfinance interest group comprised of students and faculty at the University of Oregon. Initially, MAPLE served as a way for students to access real data for academic research and to pursue opportunities for field experience. Over the next few years MAPLE opened offices and incorporated in Uganda, gained 501(c)3 nonprofit status in the United States, and helped to establish the Center for Microfinance at Makerere University Business School (MUBS) in Kampala, Uganda–the first of its kind in East Africa. With the strong support of several partners, foundations, granting agencies, members, and donors, MAPLE now operates two branches in Uganda with 13 Ugandan staff members and one branch in Chile with 4 staff members, two of them young Mapuche women elected by their community to lead the project. Currently, MAPLE is also assessing the possibility of establishing a branch in Oregon to serve impoverished urban neighborhoods and rural towns.
MAPLE chose long ago not to create any single financial services model imagined as scalable worldwide. From MAPLE’s point of view, cultures and local communities matter greatly. Development projects sometimes fail because they are not designed with and for the community members who must sustain them. Therefore, MAPLE focuses on a scalable process for designing community finance organizations to fit the needs, aspirations, and cultural values of members, themselves, and—in this way— to enhance local sustainability across generations.
Savings circles already existed deep within the cultural traditions of Uganda when MAPLE first established its operations there. MAPLE chose to build on these indigenous traditions. The development of civil society—the space between the public sector (government) and the private sector (business)—is critical in Uganda, and this process of design is based on principles of civil society strengthening. Based on continued village dialogues, we have now begun to link groups together within larger associations, so members can fund larger cooperative ventures. This design works for rural Ugandans because it has been initiated by them and fits their values.
MAPLE’s work with the indigenous Llaguepulli Mapuche Community in Chile extends our commitment to a process for designing community finance organizations. For the Mapuche People, a member owned and managed financial organization must ultimately preserve Mapuche culture and land. The exchange of heirloom seeds supporting biodiversity is important for the community, for example, as is support for the local school where children are taught in the Mapudungun language. The community financial organization, therefore, is being designed to support these aspects of “gifting” as a form of exchange within the culture. Since saving circles are not traditional in the Llaguepulli community, the financial processes will work much differently than in Uganda and will build on the systems of exchange and priorities that do exist.
What We Do
We design community-based, civil society governed approaches to financial intermediation within communities otherwise excluded from formal financial services that meet their needs.
We provide business development, financial literacy, and mentorship programs to community-managed savings groups and members of member-owned finance institutions devoted to community development.
We provide technical training in sustainable agricultural practices.
We develop and implement empowerment programs for young women and sports programs for kids in order to work across generations with the families and communities we serve.
We design programs that fit the culture and can be sustained by communities themselves.
We connect savings groups, entrepreneurs, and community-managed financial institutions to external financial and technical services, when appropriate.
We arrange for students and others from Uganda, Chile, the US and several other countries to work together as peers on community development projects.
We report all operations and outcomes transparently.
What We Don't Do
We do not give loans to groups or individuals, and we never serve as collectors. We do facilitate linkages to ethical organizations that provide loans, gifts, or other forms of financing if groups/persons are willing to take all responsibilities related to repayment.
We do not make promises we cannot keep.
We do not act in ways that cause others to depend on MAPLE or on other organizations.
We never take advantage of others for personal or organizational gain.
What We've Achieved
- Provide business development skills at two operative branches in Northern and Eastern Uganda serving over 50 village based savings groups and over 2000 members.
- Established the ROSE program which provides business development and life skills education to over 300 teenage girls in Uganda.
- Developed a youth sports program in Uganda for kids ages 7-11 to help them stay in school.
- Developed a culturally appropriate financial savings institution with the Mapuche community of Llaguepulli in Chile.
- Currently serve 25 members throughout the Llaguepulli community in Chile.