Working Capital for Community Needs (WCCN) partners with individuals and organizations in
Latin America and the U.S. to build sustainable economic opportunities that help people work their way out of poverty. Utilizing the powerful tool of microcredit, WCCN provides low-income Latin American entrepreneurs and small-scale farmers with access to financing so they can grow their operations and work their way out of poverty. WCCN also promotes fair trade, women’s empowerment, and housing improvement initiatives.
The Nicaraguan Credit Alternatives Fund (NICA) provides financing for microcredit in Nicaragua. It strives to be a model of positive economic relations between North and South, providing a link between socially responsible investors in the North and communities in Nicaragua. It addresses root causes of poverty and social injustice by ensuring that Nicaraguan people have access to capital.
Investments from individuals and institutions provide lending capital to the NICA Fund. The NICA Fund operates by channeling the funds from these socially responsible investors to Nicaraguan nongovernmental organizations (partner agencies) that specialize in providing microcredit to marginalized sectors. These are self-sustaining, microfinance institutions and cooperatives with years of experience lending to the poor. NICA Fund partner agencies provide microloans throughout Nicaragua to entrepreneurs and farmers, focusing in particular on lending to women. Borrowers use microcredit to finance their small businesses, expand their agricultural and livestock activities, and improve their living conditions. The community development resulting from access to creditaffords opportunities for employment, education and escape from the cycle of poverty.
WCCN's development and partnership efforts are focused exclusively on communities in Nicaragua, with special attention to those most marginalized. With nearly $9 million in loans outstanding to its Nicaraguan partner agencies, 18,000 low-income Nicaraguans, who would otherwise have little or no access to other sources of credit, are able to start or expand their businesses or farms because of capital provided through the NICA Fund.
The borrowers reached by the NICA Fund are currently utilizing their microcredit loans for the following purposes:
Small Business & Microenterprise: 35%
Agriculture & Livestock: 40%
Housing & Consumption: 25%
The NICA Fund's 15 partner agencies are serving approximately 330,000 borrowers with loans for business expansion, housing improvements, and education that would otherwise be unattainable. By leveraging such opportunities with the required capital, microcredit is proving to be a highly effective tool in reducing poverty and increasing quality of life at the individual and community level. This economic development model is successful in improving healthcare and housing conditions, decreasing unemployment and under-employment, and contributing toward women's empowerment.
Velkis Taleno Mejia and two other family members own a bakery in Juigalpa, Nicaragua. The bakery consists of a large brick oven in the back patio of the house. Velkis got 7,000 cordoba (US$450) loan in June of 2003 from Fundación José Nieborowski, one of WCCN’s 12 partner agencies. The loan has allowed her to grow the business, and the business is now able to support all of the members of the family financially. Full Story