COMAL is a co-operative commercialisation network that distributes basic consumer products to more than 400 rural community shops in Honduras. The project tries to replace, where possible, the national money flows (lempira) within COMAL and the local communities with an internal currency (called “UDIS”). With the “liberated money” the working capital of COMAL can be increased (leading to a better negotiation position vis-à-vis suppliers) and loans are given for small agro-industrial investment projects that can repaid in internal currency.
UDIS in circulation In October 2004 the first UDIS were brought into circulation. The local currency can be spent, amongst others, at the shops whilst the shops pay COMAL with it for the products they supply. COMAL in turn, pays the farmers partly in local currency who can spend them again at the local shops. Consumers increased their purchasing power by an average of 4,7% since the start of the project.
Agro-industrial projects In order to stimulate production within the network COMAL has identified several agro-industrial investments opportunities in rural communities; rural families should not only be seen as consumers, but also as producers. Investors can get a mixed loan in lempira’s and UDIS. Interest rate on the UDI part (10%) of the loan is lower than on the part in lempira’s (15%) and is much lower than the interest on conventional small loans in Honduras (30-50%). In June 2005 the total amount of loans was approximately €40,000 of which 80% was in lempira’s and 20% in UDIS. With these loans projects could be started for the production and manufacturing of sugar, coffee, organic fertilizer, aloa vera soap and spices. Wherever possible, these projects are linked, so that the output of one project is the input to another project.
One such a programme, for instance is the bio-diesel project. The production of vegetable oils is stimulated and engines are adapted for bio-diesel. Since August 2005 the first two cars are running on pure vegetable oil.
Expected results The expected results of the project are twofold:
Activation of the local economy of the intervention zones of COMAL and economic enhancement of COMAL.
Lessons about the impact, efficiency and applicability of the VLC method (link naar VLC) in a rural environment.
If you click here, you can read an article on COMAL in the magazineLEISA. If you click here, you can go to the website of COMAL (Spanish)