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Where We Work Nicaragua

Get facts about poverty in Nicaragua. Learn how microfinancing empowers Nicaraguans to work their way out of poverty and build a safety net for the future.

In Nicaragua, approximately 30 percent of the population lives on less than $2 per day. In rural areas, poverty rates are especially high, where 50% of households live in extreme poverty. With limited access to good schools or job opportunities, rural Nicaraguan families often rely on operating small farms for food and to earn a livelihood.

Over the last decade, Opportunity has developed a community-focused program that empowers Nicaraguan families and farmers to work together to fully utilize their communities’ economic, social and cultural assets. Through the program, Opportunity works with clients and local leaders to provide sustainable economic opportunities while empowering them to tackle chronic issues in their community. The program focuses on three key initiatives:

Agriculture Program

With access to loans and technical support from Opportunity, yucca famers in Nicaragua increasing their harvests by more than 30%

Nicaragua’s economy is driven primarily by agriculture, with yucca (also known as cassava) as one of the main crops grown by small farmers. Yucca, which is comparable to potatoes in nutrients, is consistently in demand as a staple food for low-income families throughout developing countries. However, without access to technical support and profitable markets, most small farmers sell yucca at local markets at low prices and struggle to earn a profit. In addition, yucca only stays fresh for about 24 hours after it is harvested, presenting significant logistical challenges to poor farmers with few resources.

To address these challenges, Opportunity supports small Nicaraguan farmers through:

  • Loans and technical assistance, helping farmers grow higher-quality and more drought-resistant crops. On average, farmers’ yields have increased by 30%.
  • A yucca processing plant, which began operations in early 2016. Opportunity built the centralized processing plant to buy raw yucca in bulk from the farmers and process it into waxed yucca or yucca flour or starch, significantly extending its fresh time and marketability. This work has allowed small farmers to see how their traditional crop, formerly grown and sold for a quick return at a local market, can now enter high-value regional or international markets with potential for ever larger expansion of their production. Opportunity is currently working to open a satellite plant to serve more farmers.

Emprendedora Technical School

In Nicaragua, approximately two out of three rural children do not attend secondary school. Emprendedora Technical School is helping rural youth go to school, stay in school and learn valuable skills for their future careers.

Founded by Opportunity Nicaragua in 2012, the Emprendedora (“Entrepreneurship”) Technical School empowers approximately 300 rural youth with a relevant education preparing them for careers in hospitality or agriculture, the country’s two high-growth industries. The schools offers students both a high school diploma and a technical degree in either agriculture or hospitality, preparing them to either attend college or launch successful careers after graduation. The school offers students hands-on experience through:

  • Operating the school’s organic agricultural businesses, which include a vegetable farm, egg hatchery and butterfly farm.
  • Hospitality internships with a local luxury resort, Pacaya Lodge & Spa. The Lodge, which sources produce grown from the school and purchases furniture and other products from local artisans, offers students hospitality training focused on environmental sustainability and social responsibility.

Community-led Projects

Juan Jose Venegas (center) led a community-wide project to help 17 families get loans to improve their roofs, including Aleyda Luque and her daughter Brittany (right).

Opportunity Nicaragua is working alongside our clients and local leaders to address chronic, community-wide issues that limit quality of life and the ability for families to break the cycle of poverty. To date, Opportunity has partnered with leaders in more than 20 villages, empowering them with the tools they need to mobilize community-led solutions such as:

  • Building wells and aqueducts, which now provide clean, accessible water to more than 2,500 individuals
  • Creating a community loan program to repair roofs among the poorest neighbors
  • Partnering with local medical clinics and professionals to train women in 17 communities through workshops on issues such as reproductive health, cervical cancer risk factors, domestic violence and stopping child sex trafficking and labor exploitation

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