Bank Palmas

The Palmas Bank is an institution microfinance solidarity, created in 1998 by local residents Conjunto Palmeiras, twenty kilometers from Fortaleza in northern Brazil . It combines different financial services, including microcredit , with a local circulating social currency , the “Palmas”.


Banque Palmas provides microloans for production and consumption.

Production loans are issued in Brazilian Real , the national currency. They are used to create an activity or to develop it. The bank favors support for projects that meet demand in the neighborhood through regular mapping of consumption and local production that identifies needs and opportunities.

Consumer loans are issued in “Palmas”, the local currency issued and managed by the community bank (a palmas = a real). At the end of 2012, around 50,000 Palmas circulate in the neighborhood (Source: Banque Palmas). They are tradable in real by the producers to provide raw materials outside the district, but not by the consumers who, when they consume, in Palmas, in the shops of the district, receive a count of 2 to 15% on the “normal” price of the product purchased. Thanks to the social currency, there is a relocalization of the local economy and a dynamisation of the territory at the service of the community. Each inhabitant is thus called to become a “prosumer” (producer, consumer and actor of change).

Banque Palmas is not just a financial institution. It is at the heart of the life of Conjunto Palmeiras, and a network of local solidarity economy. At the headquarters of Banque Palmas, residents line up every day to ask for a credit, collect their pension, pay their water, electricity bills, or open an account at one of the three yellow plastic windows. Blue installed in the lobby.

The premises of the community bank also host several solidarity economy enterprises. The bank is also the seat of a vocational training network to enable young people and women in the neighborhood at social risk to find a job.

Banque Palmas is a hybrid institution between Solidarity Economy and Classical Capitalism . Structure managed by the Association of inhabitants of Conjunto Palmeiras under the social control of the population, it has since 2005 formed a partnership with the People’s Bank of Brazil (BPB). This national bank created by the Lula government granted it until 2010 a credit portfolio of 1.5 million reais. It now has an envelope lent by the National Bank of Economic and Social Development of nearly 3 million reais.

In 2003, the Palmas Bank, together with the National Secretariat for the Brazilian Solidarity Economy (SENAES), created the Palmas Institute, whose mission is to export the model invented by the inhabitants of Conjunto Palmeiras. 70 community banks now exist in Brazil. A government program now supports their expansion, recognizing the transformative value of the social methodology developed by Palmeiras residents. The goal is to reach 200 banks by 2013.

Viva favela! When the poor take their destiny in hand published in October 2009 at Michel Lafon traces the epic of the inhabitants and Joaquim Melo, in particular, emblematic coordinator of the Bank and the Palmas Institute. The book co-authored by Joaquim Melo, Elodie Bécu and Carlos de Freitas has given birth to a European branch of the Palmas Institute to disseminate the methodology developed since 1998 and to strengthen the adoption of social and complementary currencies in Europe. In February 2011, the Palmas Europe Institute


In 2008, Banque Palmas received the Millennium Development Goals Award in partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the General Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic of Brazil. This price has been added to many others of which you can find the list on the site  [ archive ] In addition, numerous press articles and dissertations and research theses have been published, both in Brazil and in the rest of the world, on the astonishing vitality and perpetual capacity of renewal and innovation of the Bank and the Institute. Palmas, leading to regularly find this experience cited in the compilations of international good practices.

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