live well. give well.


Focus: Community and Regional Development

Location: Piura, Peru

the local hero

CEPESER understands human development as the simple exercise of human rights and the development of competencies as well as capacities; and poverty as a state of lack or loss of those capacities which enable a person to control his way of life.  Also CEPESER emphasizes the importance of preserving the region’s cultural diversity and protecting the different ecosystems – jungle, mountains, tropical dessert and seaside.

The team of fourteen focuses primarily on capacitating and supporting regional group’s efforts to maintain a livelihood. That is, their requirement is that groups be ambitious and open to learning and changing their ways of work; if this is met CEPESER may spend several years working continuously with the group but always with the aim to become dispensable as soon as possible. 

Since its initiation by Peruvian lady Elsa Fung in 1980, CEPESER has successfully conducted over 90 projects and thereby contributed significantly to Piura’s development.

their neighbor has formed relationships with two groups who have been working with CEPESER for several years; a small fisher village named Islilla and a large farmer’s cooperation in the region of Nomara.

La Islilla

A 45 minute drive through the desert, vultures circling above your car which is loosing traction ever so often while manoeuvring through rocks and gravel, qualifies Islilla as a ‘remote’ place.  Having arrived, simple concrete houses provide the only escape from the scathing sun which reflects in the sand and blue sea water around.  There is no running water, the place looks barren but since CEPESER began supporting the village many families were able to earn money for a fridge, a TV and occasionally even a computer (no Internet though).  The extra revenue is created by the fishermen’s wives who built a secondary industry around their husband’s work: traditional fishing with rafts and rods in addition to using small boats and nets.  Traditionally women stayed indoors, received barely any education (not all are literate) and were barred from doing business.  Now you find restaurant owners, shopkeepers and fish vendors in a group of women which has grown from 8 to 60 members.  CEPESER strengthened their role and trained them in starting businesses from microloans it provided; without its involvement, Islilla would not only be described as ‘remote’ but ‘destitute’.


From the dusty highways around the city of Piura we dive into a lush river delta with palm trees, rice paddies and vegetable fields.  This region is home to several hundred farmer families who cultivate small land plots which are passed on within the family and so tend to become more divided.  These people are Piura’s bread basket but few have markets beyond the city.  The reason is a lack of productivity and efficiency; only when CEPESER started supporting the farmers they learnt to expand into more profitable crops like sweet potato and to rotate the harvest for greater soil fertility.  Notably, CEPESER set up a loan program which allows farmers to purchase more expensive seeds or technology and which is now independently administered by the farmers themselves.  In line with CEPESER’s objective, the farmers have outgrown the need for help; they formed an association where knowledge is shared, production coordinated and negotiations lead jointly – some products even ship to international markets now. 

your philanthropic opportunity

CEPESER’s work is outstanding for the tangible improvements it has brought, and continues to bring to so many regions within Piura.  The two examples cited above exemplify the organization’s dedication to helping people prosper within their native ways of life – be it fishing, farming or handicraft work.  Nevertheless, CEPESER is greatly constrained by a lack of resources.  Most of its staff work as volunteers or receive a minimal wage and the leader, Elsa Fung will retire in the next few years leaving the organization to an unknown future. 

Similarly, the farmers and women from Islilla are still many years away from complete independence, not to mention prosperity.  CEPESER continues to be their single source of credit and there are many obstacles to full productivity and growth.

Therefore, we encourage you to come on a trip with to learn from these people about their lives, businesses and the organization that helped them get off the ground.  We believe that you have the talent and resources to become another key player in their path to economic independence and a better life. 


piura, peru