Business Overview

The community bank of El Balé is located in the Comarca Ngobe-Buglé, and is part of a large project alongside the World Bank that seeks to expand financial inclusion into under-resourced communities. This caja has 48 active and hard-working members that meet bi-montly.

Community Bank El Balé - El Balé, Panamá

Economic Challenge

The community of El Balé is located in the Comarca Ngobe-Buglé, an autonomous indigenous region which was established in 1972 when the Panamanian constitution required the government to establish ‘comarcas’; however, it wasn’t until 1997 that the Ngobe-Buglé were granted this territory. El Balé is one of the first communities on the newly built road in the comarca, providing a strategic advantage; some transport is available towards Santiago, the capital of the province of Veraguas, and there is larger accesibility to other essential services than communities further into the comarca. Despite this financial and economic strain continue to be highly prevalent due to a lack of access to financial institutions, basic services and prejudice Indigenous people face to this day.

The Business

The community bank of El Balé is one of the 4 communities selected for the World Bank project which seeks to expand financial inclusion to some of the most under-resourced regions of the country.

Competitive Advantage

This caja has a strong group of 48 stakeholders that are highly motivated and consistently attend meetings despite travel time, and have over $3,000 in savings in less than a year. In addition, this community bank has one of the strongest leadership boards with their current treasurer soon becoming a technician for Global Brigades.


El Balé is an extremely large community and some of the members have a travel time of 3 hours which can make attendance difficult at times. In addition, the lack of government support, transport and reliable sources of income results in the conditions in the community to often times be aggravated.

Business Snapshot

Active Loans
Active Loans Amount

Next Steps

The tasks thatCommunity Bank El Balé has prioritized are:

1: Conduct an income statement of the Community Banks of El Balé
2: Gather all savings data per individual (monthly)
3: Conduct a leadership workshop with all community bank members

Page Last Updated:December 17, 2020