The Mustard Tree: A History of Microfinance in Peru

Printed version: Main bookstores of Lima.  regresar

Online version: Contact to

Instituto del Perú de la Universidad de San Martín de Porres
September 2009
Lucy Conger – Patricia Inga – Richard Webb
176 pages

Cost: S/. 100

This book is, above all, an effort to preserve the facts regarding the beginnings and first 40 years of microfinance in Peru.

In Peru, bank credit had never existed for the poor. But twenty years ago the scene began to change radically. Today, an extraordinary number and variety of lending institutions provide loans, deposits and other financial services to millions of poor households .

The seeds of most of Peru’s current microfinance institutions and technologies were planted during the 1980s and early 1990s. The time and place could hardly have been less auspicious for financial ventures. It was a context of high inflation, virulent terrorism, institutional breakdown, economic collapse and a once-in-a-century natural disaster.

The key to the microcredit boom was the discovery of ways to substitute for standard bank collateral requirements.

Peru’s microfinance revolution was a collective result of a large number and variety of initiatives and the individuals responsible for them.

The cast of characters includes “Father Dan, the Money Man,” a Maryknoll priest who pioneered the first credit cooperative in 1955, a 21-year-old business school student in a provincial university of northern Peru, the Minister of Finance, the German foreign aid agency, a group of young Ivy League professionals who persuaded an elite group of Peruvian businessmen to contribute to community development, a group of professors at Peru’s Engineering University who created Latin America’s largest credit union, an anthropology student that created an NGO, obtained substantial government and donor backing, and within three years had created Peru’s largest microfinance institution.


Librerías Crisol (Principales centros comerciales de Lima y Provincias: C.C. Jockey Plaza, C.C. Plaza San Miguel, C.C. Open Plaza Angamos, C.C. Real Plaza Primavera, etc.)
Librería el Virrey (Miguel Dasso 147, San Isidro – T: 440-0607)
– Librería Época (Av. Avenida Comandante Espinar 864 – T: 241-2951)
Fondo de Cultura Económica (Comandante Espinar 840, Miraflores – T: 445-9196)
Librería Libun (Av. P. Thouars, 4799, Miraflores – T: 446-5048)
– Librería Univ. Ricardo Palma (Av. Benavides 5440, Santiago de Surco – T: 708-0000)