Most Bridges projects in Nicaragua require beneficiary families to make some level of payment into a community fund. These funds allow communities to continue the essential work jump-started by Bridges in perpetuity. Bridges works to assemble a credit committee who are trained to manage the community account. This includes organizing a payment schedule with beneficiary families, reviewing and approving loan requests, and overseeing loan repayment. When we complete our physical work in any singular community, our staff continues to advise the credit committee and help manage the community fund as advisers and co-signers.
Don Juan Bosco Garcia and his wife Giovanna del Sorocco Pilarte are 2 of the 728 personal loan recipients from Masaya, Nicaragua in 2019 through these community funds. Personal loans are given for the purpose of planting basic grains, financing the purchase of livestock, repairing fencing and pastures for current farmers, and improving housing.
Don Bosco and Giovanna, from the community of El Comején 1 in Masaya, rely on farming to make their living. In March of this year, the couple received an $800 personal loan to plant new crops and expand their fields. This loan allowed them to expand from 3.5 hectares to 6.3 hectares, add squash to their crop selection, and hire 3 permanent field workers.
Their first harvest of crops produced 2,000 baby corn; the squash is currently growing. They project that the second harvest will produce 35-40,000 baby corn and 28,000 sweet corn. Don Bosco hopes that varying their crop selection will help them to make some extra money to invest back in their fields.
Don Bosco dedicates himself to tending to the fields and managing his new employees. Giovanna is in charge of selling the harvest and has already begun to commercialize and sell in the Masaya municipal market. The couple plans to be able to repay their loan in full after their second harvest and later yields will allow them to continue to invest in their fields.
In addition to personal loans, the credit committee under the advisement of Bridges’ staff has the ability to invest in community-wide projects that support their region. Bridges staff frequently coordinates partnerships between various communities’ credit committees to support jointly beneficial school additions or refurbishments, water projects, health clinics, etc.
The Nicaraguan community funds have lent a total of $86,632 in 2019, benefiting more than 2,000 people.