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A cooperative caring for local communities: Simone and Jonas' story

A cooperative caring for local communities: Simone and Jonas' story

Simone and Jonas in their greenhouse28 March | 2022

Oikocredit’s team in Brazil is passionate about investing in cooperatives that have strong ties to local communities. To help explain why, we’re introducing you to Cresol Tenente Portela and some of their clients.

Cresol Tenente Portela

Founded in 1995, Cresol is an association of savings and credit cooperatives. It has 630,000 members in 17 states in Brazil. Aligned with Oikocredit’s social mission and values, Cresol and its affiliated cooperatives offer its members financial solutions to develop their businesses and benefit the communities in which they live.

When Cresol first started, it focused exclusively on supporting people in rural areas of Brazil. But as people started commuting more between rural and urban areas, the demand for financial inclusion in cities became too high to ignore. As a result, the association decided to serve in both rural and urban areas, mainly supporting small and medium enterprises.

Oikocredit’s team in Brazil has been focusing on partnering with cooperatives that have strong ties to local communities. As a result, Oikocredit works directly with Cresol Tenente Portela, one of the main cooperatives under the Cresol umbrella. Cresol Tenente Portela alone has more than 11,000 members and recently received a US$ 3 million loan approval from Oikocredit. This loan will enable the credit cooperative to meet the growing demands of small and medium-sized businesses and farming families who need more working capital to improve their livelihoods.

A taste of farm life: Simone & Jonas’ story

Simone Wolfardt Salla (age 37) and her husband, Jonas Salla, work a 29 hectare farm outside of Tenente Portela, which is in the state of Rio Grande do Sol.

Simone and Jonas in their greenhouse

The couple started their business producing things like soy, corn, wheat and hay, but Simone and Jonas had dreams beyond crop production. They wanted others to be able to benefit from the peace and beauty their farm had to offer.   

In 2020 the couple decided to combine their passion for hospitality with the wholesome food they were producing and started a brunch service. Yet however determined and hardworking the couple might be, they couldn’t do it alone. They needed financial support. Fortunately they had already been members of Cresol Tenente Portela since 2007.

“Without Cresol we wouldn't have half of what we have today,” said Simone.

With the financial backing of the cooperative, Simone and Jonas started welcoming visitors and giving them a taste of the farm life. The coupled also had the flexibility to get creative and expanded their business further by growing and selling flowers for their guests.

These endeavours brought in tourists from the cities  who wanted to enjoy a few hours away from the noise and chaos and be in the countryside.

Simone with the prepared tourist brunch table

With Cresol Tenente Portela’s assistance, the couple now have a successful, diversified business that offers more than just crop production.

Purely organic

BMF Organics (BMF) is an organisation that focuses on the sustainable development of the agriculture sector in order to benefit farmers, consumers and the environment. One of the main ways they are doing this is by promoting organic farming.

Located in Três Passos, a small town near Tenente, Brazil, BMF works directly with smallholder producers and supports them in converting from chemical pesticides to organic farming.

BMF has been a member of Cresol Tenente Portela since 2018. The organisation’s latest project financed by Cresol Tenente Portela is the construction of six silos for organic grain.

Staying purely organic is a major priority for BMF. They want to make sure that their entire farming process, from grain to storage, remains chemical free.

"Cresol has supported and helped us in ways that we would hardly find elsewhere, because we are a very young company," said Cesar Bourscheid, one of the directors of BMF.

With Cresol Tenente Portela’s support, BMF is making a positive impact in their local community and the world in which we all live.

Cesar (left) talking with Paulo Sergio dos Santos, a farmer who is in charge of the construction work of the silos

Looking for more inspiring stories on our partners in Brazil? Read about Sulcredi and Crediluz.

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