Nicaragua Community Economic Development Report - Spring 2016Your Opportunity Impact In Nicaragua
Thank you for investing in holistic, community-wide transformation
By investing in hard-working Nicaraguan youth, families and farmers, you are providing the resources communities need to drive true development and holistic transformation. Nearly ten years ago, we embarked on a new program, expanding our mission to respond to Christ’s call to love and serve the poor in Nicaragua. We could only hope and pray for the lasting change once-marginalized people are achieving in their own lives today. Be blessed by the measurable impact directly attributed to your generosity – rejoice with us as you see the fruit of your visionary investment grow into strong, replicable programs that are flourishing.
- May Grand Opening! Farmers are reaping the benefits of our new Processing Plant.
- Emprendedora Technical School’s first graduating class finishes this December.
- Emprendedora’s tourism campus, the Pacaya Lodge, opened its doors in March.
- Local children and youth leaders are thriving through our Christian Young Life program.
- Nicaragua team hired its second Chaplain to show Christ’s love across all programs.
- Women are using loans to make critical home improvements and neighbors are joining together to upgrade two churches via the community development program.
EMPRENDEDORA TECHNICAL SCHOOL: Education Redefined.
Emprendedora values Academic Success. As 2015 drew to a close and students and staff returned refreshed and eager to begin a new year, the trend for students to perform and test well above the national average has continued. Programs to instill ecological and environmental awareness through the Three R concept: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, have become second nature for all. Perhaps the most compelling of all school news is the excitement building as this year’s 48 seniors prepare to graduate - Emprendedora Technical School’s very first graduating class!
Additional academic activities and achievements in late 2015 and early 2016, include:
- Last year, school leaders launched a board for parent’s, inviting them to become actively involved, giving them a voice and forum to share ideas. The parent board is now comprised of 64 active parents and volunteers.
- Opportunity’s Community Health Leaders program in India has trained 2,400 women who, in turn, have impacted 500,000 people with healthcare services and awareness.
- Program and community leaders are conducting workshops to empower this year’s graduating class to embark on their future journey toward independence. Subjects include: resume preparation, mock interviewing and building and maintaining professional relationships.
- Opportunity is collaborating with local business leaders and international companies like Cargill to establish internships and job opportunities for graduating students. A regional Cargill staff member is engaging local business leaders and is so impressed with Emprendedora and the students that she is proposing a mentoring program.
- Opportunity program leaders are developing a method to align students with opportunities for jobs by monitoring post-graduate activity. We are also establishing an alumni system through Facebook.
- School leaders are working closely with the families of college-bound students to gain the best chance of acceptance and also with students who wish to take a position at a local farm. The school also plans to host a job fair later in the year featuring guests from local or international employers.
Emprendedora: Sustainability through Agro-business. Today, Emprendedora Technical School’s Agro-business program is raising enough income in organic sales to offset more than 50% of the school’s operating budget. The school’s Agro-business program couples experiential agriculture training with income-generating activities to achieve its goal to become fully self-sustaining. Excellent results are attributed to:
- 100% organic lettuce, fresh eggs and fruit sales surpassed the $20,000 mark in April.
- In 2016, the school plans to increase agriculture production with at least two more green houses.
- The current clean water well is producing below expectations at about 11 gallons per minute. We are researching water conservation technologies and the original contractor offered to dig a new well at no charge.
- The program produces 100% organic agriculture in alignment with Organic Best Agriculture Practices, for which the school is applying for certification.
The Pacaya Lodge & Spa: A lodge with a social mission and a commitment to sustainability. Through the generosity of private investors, Opportunity Nicaragua opened the Pacaya Lodge in mid-March. The highly rated lodge offers a unique experience with memorable service provided by Emprendedora Technical School tourism students.
- Pacaya Lodge is committed to giving back to the vibrant communities of Laguna de Apoyo. Beyond our mission and vision, investing in our community makes good business sense.
- In a country where fewer than 10% of rural youth finish high school, the lodge supports 296 students by contributing a percentage of revenues to Emprendedora Technical School.
- The lodge offers professional development opportunities to the Tourism students and sources produce grown on the school’s farm.
- Pacaya Lodge is committed to environmental sustainability and social responsibility. The lodge is designed according to Global Sustainable Tourism criteria, the gold standard for responsible tourism practices. Environmental sustainability is central to the lodge design. On-site solar panels provide clean energy and the floor plan maximizes air flow.
neighbors join to build strong communities
Community projects: Residents get skin in the game. Opportunity International works alongside members of more than 20 communities to encourage residents to join together to self-identify and address development needs. To date in 2016:
- 12 women in the Pacific South improved their life quality by using loans to repair homes.
- A newest La Laguna water project, completed in March, brought clean water to 300 people.
- In Los Jirones, the community joined together to complete major repair projects on two neighborhood churches using loans, grants and $1,821 raised by the community.
- An aqueduct project in Altos Norte is funded by an Opportunity loan combined with $3,000 in community-raised funds. Most labor will be completed by community members.
Spiritual Development: We show the love of Christ in each of our community interactions.
- 55 farmer group leaders participated in the first of three “train the trainer” sessions based on a bible study called “40 Days in Community”. Once trained, leaders are equipped to return to share what they learned with their group members.
- By hiring a second chaplain, we doubled our spiritual growth impact. Chaplain Gonzalez teaches and encourages farmer and women’s groups, incorporating prayer and Biblical principles into their daily activities. He leads capacity building workshops like Servant Leadership and Stewarding your Resources. Chaplain Carlos Tercero leads daily staff devotions and weekly devotions at Emprendedora Technical School.
Young Life: Empowering Granada's Next Generation of Leaders
Local children gather weekly from one of the toughest and poorest parts of town, setting aside their doubts, fears, differences and challenges to have fun in a safe and Godly environment. Joy replaces hopelessness when they receive the unconditional love of Christ through youth leaders during weekly meetings and soccer leagues. Granada’s Young Life Director, Mr Ramoz, along with his wife Claudia and two sons has been involved with Young Life for 23 years. He joined a Young Life program when he was 16 and it changed his life for the better.
Granada’s Young Life program consists of five clubs of 40 youth each. Opportunity hosts one club, providing use of its offices and grounds for meetings and activities. The typical youth club meeting opens with an introduction of new kids, ice breaker activities plus videos based on integrity and friendship followed by leader talks. The Young Life soccer league consists of 150 kids across 14 boys’ teams and four girls’ teams. This has proven to be an excellent way for communities to get impoverished kids involved in appropriate activities that keep them off the streets and in a loving, safe environment.
I work with the Director to organize events. I love how Young Life makes God personal to youth in Granada’s hardest neighborhoods.Jennifer Duarante, 25-year-old staff member
I have been a student leader for three years since I connected with Young Life. I love reaching out to new kids to make them feel connected.Juniet Montalban, 17-year-old student leader
Harvesting Hope: Farmers Yields Skyrocket by 30%!
Farmers are increasing their crops and incomes. Opportunity nearly doubled the number of Nicaraguan farmers it serves with technical support to 1,165 in March, up from 687 a year ago. With the processing plant operational, our Nicaragua team is preparing to launch our first satellite processing plant later in 2016. The plant and satellite plant will allow us to reach more remote and marginalized parts of the country. Additionally we:
- Supported 68 cooperatives comprised of 1,165 farmers, 22% of whom are women, via access to technical assistance and markets.
- Provided technical services to 1,165 farmers, 846 from the Pacific South and 319 from Nuevo Guinea.
- Offered contract purchases to farmers in the Pacific South for the first time. The team signed 183 farmer contracts representing 20% of the 2016 yucca plant’s projections.
- Negotiated interest rates and payment terms for the 2016 farmer loans with two microfinance partners. FUDEMI is projected to carry $350,000 in their agriculture portfolio for the Pacific South area while FUNDESER projects to open a $500,000 loan portfolio.
We are processing yucca in the new plant. Construction and installation continue while the plant is operating. Agronomists are introducing resilient farming techniques using satellite map technology. We are collaborating with NASA’s climate team to inform weather projections and providing farmers with better seeds, drought resistant measures and training.
Satellite Processing Plant. Opportunity Nicaragua is reviewing designs and renderings for the future satellite processing plant. Opportunity aims to have this second plant running by the end of 2016.