Much of the important work underway in Outreach-affiliated communities takes shape over long stretches of quiet determination. Farmers in La Leona established a community-managed loan program. This might not lend itself to splashy photos. But its sustainability and long-term benefit to families’ household income level is certainly something we can all celebrate.
Outreach field teams facilitated the community-led group in nearby El Llanito, residents of La Leona. With guidance, they founded a program to furnish local farmers with low-interest agricultural loans. This spared 22 families from the burden of usurious interest rates and razor-thin profit margins external lenders provided to them.
Since farmers in La Leona rent their land, they borrow against their future profits at the start of each planting season. As a part of this, they had to devote 30% of their income to repay loans. Their community-managed program cuts that figure nearly in half, increasing income. Also, the group members gain experience as they set household budgets, manage their own savings and examine cost/ benefit analysis models. Through this, they empower one another with inter-reliance and teamwork. And, they gain their own individual capacities to overcome the financial and societal barriers they face as people with limited resources. This all demonstrates the power of low-interest loans in Nicaragua.
“I can’t wait for meetings to start, and to ensure we comply with everything that must be done so that our community bank can move forward and be able to continue helping people.”
Upon her appointment as the group’s secretary at the beginning of 2019, Haydee [above, in green shirt], a farmer and mother of two, “was scared, at first.” She said, “because I really didn’t know what I had to do.” But then, with encouragement from superstar Outreach facilitator Luz Dania, Haydee did her best, and found she was more than suited to the job. And as a result, “Here I am now, after almost a year in this position, and can say that I like to be helping and learning. Now, I can’t wait for the meetings [to start], and to [ensure we] comply with everything that must be done. This way, our community bank can move forward and be able to continue helping people.” These days, “apart from helping my husband, I am helping my whole community, too.”
Some significant changes result from Outreach-facilitated, community-led development like low-interest loans in Nicaragua. But not all of them take place in the mind. At the same time, changes take place in the heart. Before long, members discover their own limitless capacity through their devotion to their neighbors and teammates’ success and security. And the loan program continues to benefit La Leona’s farmers and families in its second lending cycle. After enough time has passed, professional relationships become personal, colleagues become friends. Eventually, their commitment to one another deepens and grows, ultimately forming the foundation for all the success that has yet to come.
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