Business Overview

The community bank of Piriati Embera was founded on december 4th, 2013. It started with 24 dreamers that believed in the idea of starting this organized group, and it has grown to 56 members, out of which 71% are women. Its leadership is strong and 100% female, and it is testified in their remarkable performance.

Community Bank Piriatí Emberá - Piriatí, Panamá

Economic Challenge

There is a need to continue to expand the coverage of the community bank so that it can reach more people within the community, given that, even though it has significantly grown over the past few years, membership remains stagnant. Currently the community bank is working on the design of new products and new types of memberships so that the caja can become more available to those who are not current members.

The Business

The community bank of Piriati Embera is one of the pioneers of the community banks projects of Global Brigades. Since 2013 they have shown great commitment, leadership and financial performance. Their vision is relentless, at the beginning they dreamed of having a physical office and an ATM. Now, 6 years later, they have their own office to hold meetings and a point of sale where people can pay for cable, electricity bills, phone and other services. In our yearly Community Banks Summit they have won several prizes due to their performance and they are seen among community banks as an example to follow.

Competitive Advantage

The community bank of Piriatí Emberá receives great support from the Chief General of the Alto Bayano region as he resides directly in this community. In addition, Piriatí is the first community on the road to the east of Panamá City, providing a strategic location. Finally, community members had no access to any other commercial or goverment bank and were excluded from these financial services, thus the caja is able to offer these to the population at the bottom of the economic pyramid of Piriatí.


The community bank has the largest historical records of transactions out of all community banks due to its longevity. Therefore, their financial books are extensive and are not fully digitalized because of time restrictions and other priorities. Regardless, the treasurer of the community bank has worked extensively in digitalizing part of their records on her own personal laptop. So far she is the only one that knows how to use a computer, but the executive board is willing to learn so that they can ease the workload of the treasurer.

Nonetheless, in the last Community Bank summit (2019), they won the prize as the community bank with the highest net worth. Upon their request, their prize was a laptop which will be used to finalize the digitalization of all its financial books data and also to train the president and secretary of the community bank on how to use a computer, so that they can eventually support the treasurer in recording this data.

Business Snapshot

Active Loans
Active Loan Amount

Next Steps

The tasks thatCommunity Bank Piriatí Emberá has prioritized are:

1: Audit Daily Ledger (both physical and digital)
2: Audit Savings Data; input missing savings data information into digital.
3: Audit loan portfolio; input loan portfolio into spreadsheet.

Page Last Updated:November 27, 2019