One of the more successful and influential initiatives in Peru’s
microfinance story is the system of Cajas Municipales, or ‘cash shops’.
Of the many independent Cajas that grew to be successful, Caja Trujillo
is an illustrative case where business experimentation combined with
effective regulation by sector authorities produced a successful story
of sound microfinance growth. Caja Trujillo was created with the city
government to build an institution that would bring credit to people of
reduced means whilst supporting decentralisation of economic development
in Peru. With a strong customer-centred approach to credit evaluation,
Caja Trujillo achieved a leading position in the Peruvian microfinance
industry. This MFI and sister Cajas in other regions of the country have
grown consistently since the early 1980s, weathering domestic and
international economic crises. Risk-management flexibility combined with
prudential measures were key to their success. The cash-flow assessment
of customer credit and the graduated approach to MFIs’ operational
upgrading were eventually embedded into the industry through regulation.
In-the-field assessment methods, building competent and loyal staff, and
developed systems for information-technology and operational
organisation were key contributors to Caja Trujillo’s good performance
and continuing promise. This Brief tells the story of the Caja
Municipales system, focusing on the Caja Trujillo example to offer
lessons learned for other regions. It provides background to the
Peruvian context, describes the emergence of the Caja model and its
current prospects, and assesses some of the key enabling factors
underpinning its success.
The track record of accomplishments by Caja Trujillo and other Cajas
showcases their successful appropriation of typical MFI practice geared
to diverse client profiles and external conditions. They shaped their
strategy, organisation and methods so as to reach out. Trust became a
risk-management tool, with hands-on and flexible customer credit
evaluation in lieu of formal guarantees.
Building competent and loyal managerial cadre and staff that are trained
in the field proved essential to the Caja Municipal achievements.
Successful strategies included staff training, graduate school
scholarships and performance incentives.
From the perspective of institution-building, the Caja Municipal story
underscores the highly positive role that responsive, flexible and
attentive supervisory and other relevant authorities can play.
Authorities were open and learned together with the Cajas, incorporating
this learning to make the microfinance industry and the entire financial
system stronger, and added prudential and timely accompanying
mechanisms, as well as external funding options. The encouragement of
credit bureaus and risk assessment information services was also
Jaramillo, M. ELLA Policy Brief: Peruvian Microfinance&#8217;s Caja Municipal Model. ELLA, Practical Action Consulting, Lima, Peru (2013) 9 pp.