Many immigrants from Africa, Asia and the Americas see Europe as a land of opportunity where there is plenty of work and no need to struggle for daily survival. However, those that arrive in Spain are faced with a different reality. Immigrants find themselves increasingly isolated in pockets of poverty. In many cases, they have no access to the basic services that Spaniards enjoy, even after they have spent a number of years in the country.Jean Claude Rodriguez Ferrera’s idea is that the best incentive for immigrants is access to flexible credit that would allow them to cover basic needs while they focus on larger ambitions. In order to provide full social and economic citizenship to Spain’s immigrants he brings them together in cooperatives that help them access the services they need to become entrepreneurs and professionals rather than welfare dependents.
He has created small Self-Managed Financial Communities among immigrants in order to meet their basic financial needs. Utilizing a simple, self-sustaining system of savings and loans, the members of these communities are able to access products and services (micro-credit, micro-insurance, and consumer products) that help them get ahead financially. This network is critical for making contacts, finding jobs, and providing a financial fallback in case of emergency. For those needs that the groups cannot satisfy on their own, Rodriguez Ferrera is collaborating with companies to help develop products and services specifically aimed towards immigrants. In this way, he is demonstrating the economic potential of immigrant market to the business sector while revealing to immigrants the power of the community as a way to get ahead financially.