President Bill Clinton visits Cooperativa La Sagrada Familia

Inclusiv is part of the Clinton Global Initiative Action Network on Post-Disaster Recovery

President Bill Clinton visited Inclusiv member Cooperativa La Sagrada Familia in rural Corozal, Puerto Rico on Sunday, February 16. The visit was part of Inclusiv’s participation in the Clinton Global Initiative Action Network on Post-Disaster Recovery, an initiative devoted to natural disaster recovery in the greater Caribbean region. Inclusiv has led efforts to support marginalized communities on the frontlines of climate change, helping financial cooperatives like Sagrada Familia rebuild their communities after Hurricane María through access to resources that strengthen and amplify their community development work.

During his visit, Clinton learned about Sagrada Familia’s community development projects, including the Oasis Project, a resiliency center in development in the rural town of Naranjito that aims to serve over 128,000 residents of the towns of Corozal, Naranjito, Barranquitas and Comerio. Clinton also engaged in conversation with graduates of Sagrada Familia’s business incubation program that provides counseling for entrepeneurs launching and developing local businesses. Other community impact projects focused on the promotion of renewable energies and the development of low-income housing.

President Clinton expressed his admiration for the impact of financial cooperatives and CDFI’s in the communities they serve: “I wish everyone could see the impact of CDFIs. What we need now is to channel more investments to support this work of economic revitalization and financial inclusion. People of moderate and low economic resources need the kind of financial tools that this commitment provides,” said Clinton.

“President Clinton appreciates that Sagrada Familia and financial cooperatives in Puerto Rico have empowered vulnerable communities, which is critical to making them more resilient and sustainable,” said Pablo De Filippi, SVP of Membership and Network Engagement at Inclusiv.

“Investing in our communities has resulted in constant growth for our cooperative,” said Eddie Alicea Saez, Executive President of Sagrada Familia and President of the Board at the Asociación de Ejecutivos de Cooperativas (ASEC), an association of cooperativa executives throughout Puerto Rico. Alicea is also the first representative from a financial cooperative to be a member of Inclusiv’s Board of Directors. “We are representative of the cooperative movement, educating and promoting financial inclusion and the economic revitalization of our communities. We are thankful of the support Inclusiv has provided to amplify our community impact. We also thank President Clinton for this historic visit that will help increase the awareness of the incredible work that our financial cooperatives carry out in the communities we serve.”

In 2018, the Clinton Foundation and Inclusiv signed the Puerto Rico CDFI Initiative Commitment to Action. Inclusiv has been working to transform the financial cooperative sector in Puerto Rico to more effectively deliver financial inclusion and economic revitalization. Inclusiv’s approach includes the promotion of CDFI certification and channeling resources to expand the sector’s community development initiatives. With the support of its partner ASEC, Inclusiv has facilitated three local convenings that provided technical assistance for financial cooperatives to become CDFI certified and gain access to CDFI Awards. Since the launch of the initiative, eight cooperatives have become CDFI certified, with Sagrada Familia the first to receive the CDFI certification. Twenty-two financial cooperatives received CDFI awards totaling $3.5 million in capacity building dollars from 2018 to 2019.

Left to right are Eddie Alicea, CEO Sagrada Familia; President Bill Clinton; Lisaurie Torres, Sagrada Familia Board Chair; Pablo DeFilippi, Inclusiv SVP of Membership and Network Engagement, and Jose Julian Ramirez, Executive Director ASEC.

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