This case study was designed to investigate how people in poor communities in Brazil are taking action to improve their local economies and how participation is important to achieve that.
In a context of economic marginalisation and limited access to infrastructure and public goods, local movements have risen in which residents organise themselves to discuss major community issues and try to find a solution together. The experience of Banco Palmas, the first Brazilian Community Development Bank (CDB), inspired the spread of this model across the country and resulted in the creation of the Brazilian Network of Community Banks (BNCB). By definition, CDBs are grass-root initiatives developed and managed by the community, working for the community, based on solidarity economy principles. The purpose of the BNCB is to exchange experiences, advocate for solidarity economy, articulate policies and partnerships, and to support the creation of new CDBs. Building from the experience of Banco Palmas, this study endeavours to understand the role of participation as a fundamental component of CDBs, and how it has been encouraged and promoted by the BNCB.