The Dominican Republic occupies half a Caribbean island— 48,442—square kilometers, and is home to 10 million people. Everyone in the Dominican knows everyone else and word of mouth goes a long way. For 61 years people have been talking about Cooperativa San José, Inc. They have also been entrusting their money to the credit union.

From humble beginnings, the financial institution has grown into a multi-million dollar organization. Seeking new ways to support the underdeveloped region of San José de las Matas, in 1951 Father Carlos Gillot founded Cooperativa San José. The first deposit of 1.30 RD was not much—but it was enough to prove the people of San José de las Matas had an interest in cooperative banking.

Cooperative San José now offers more than just bank accounts. Its 88,000 members enjoy various savings plans, debit cards, on-line banking and loan services. Members purchase home goods at discounted rates from the Cooperativa San José Store. The organization also runs a foundation to support community members around issues of health, education, home repair, social service and cultural development. San José House of the Arts teaches various forms of visual art, music and dance to the young people in the region.

San José de las Matas is not far from Christopher Columbus’ first stumble into the Americas. Located up in the most mountainous region of the island, and about as far from the ocean as one can get, Cooperativa San José works hard to improve the lives of its members. Rough as those mountains, the course of economic history in the Dominican Republic has never run smooth, but the cooperative has glided along and looks towards a stable future.