Building to grow: What if investors did away with interest?

blog 1
July 13, 2018

The concept of aportes – payments made into the Buen Vivir Fund (an investment fund that thrived from 2018-2023) between  after receiving investments – is one of the foundational elements that will support and maintain the fund. Instead of requiring interest at a set rate, the Buen Vivir Fund has adopted the practice of aportes, or solidarity contributions, a practice first developed by BVF founding circle member CIELO- Federación Indígena Empresarial y Comunidades Local de México (the Federation of Indigenous Businesses and Local Communities of Mexico). All members of the fund (both those that apply for funds and those who contribute) are asked the type, amount, and timeline of aporte they plan to contribute to the fund, thus creating a fertile, regenerative base of resources. Upon completion of a project and replacement to the Buen Vivir Fund of the original capital amount received, borrowers contribute an additional amount into the fund by choice, based on their own capacity. Aportes are one way the Buen Vivir Fund creating paths of buen vivir for all.

Cecilio Solis Librado leads CIELO, which operates throughout Mexico and supports indigenous entrepreneurs to deepen local economies. CIELO is part of the first Buen Vivir Fund investment round, working on FIDI: the Fund for Development with Identity, which will support 33 small businesses in bringing their products to market while maintaining their cultural heritages.

Below Cecilio describes the cosmology – or the foundational indigenous concepts – around aportes.

The journey towards buen vivir is a road traveled at various times and moments within the holistic view of Indigenous Peoples. On this journey, the culture of sharing permeates everyday life and has been inherited and multiplying from generation to generation. Even though there are exceptions, it is also important to recognize that from our people’s point of view, whatever we do is a collective act.

The collective is rendered in a vast territory full of culture, art, tradition, natural resources, and biodiversity, in addition to the intangible conception of the territory that exists in our subconsciousness. A territory that, seen through the eyes of Indigenous Peoples, dwells in sacred spaces that cannot be touched by otherness and that is part of the innermost self. It is there that on more than one occasion, the echo of an inner voice can be heard, a voice that is heard by those who prepare themselves to hear it and understand it. It is from this indigenous worldview that guidance is born.

Each seed that is sown with love and receives the care it needs to grow will surely bear fruit. This seed, when it grows, should not be compelled to bear more fruit than it can. If this occurs, the flavor, aroma, and delicate body of the fruit may lose its essence. So it is with sharing. One contributes to build, grow, and multiply.

This is part of the essence of CIELO and which upholds the next pillar of our home. Sharing to grow [through aportes] also requires that the contribution we have received continues to multiply and grow. This act of multiplication will only be possible if we give a bit more than what we receive.

To reclaim capital, circulate it, and put it to better use, so that in that growth it does not lose its value, nor become speculative or elevated beyond human well-being – this is the point at which the contribution can have an impact, from an indigenous perspective. It is thus that this “angel capital” contributes to the strengthening of endeavors by the communities, a strengthening that roots [our] culture, art, and tradition. It further strengthens the sense of governance of a territory that lays the foundation not only of a people, but of all the beings who live there. [It strengthens] those who, in an intangible way, have survived across the ages in the memory of a community that assumes its responsibility within this holistic [view] of humanity.

Thus, [aportes] must serve to strengthen our endeavors, support growth but never without losing sight of the fact that the use and enjoyment of the resources are in our territories. This must be directed toward ecological sustainability, economic sustainability, and social acceptance.