Monday, November 23, 2009

Welcome to Two New Costa Rican MFI Partners!

Hi everyone!

I'm excited to let you all know of two new field partners Kiva has in Costa Rica. I apologize because one has been posting for a while and I never announced them formally to the Kiva community, but I'll let you know about both of them here!

The first, FUDECOSUR, funds mostly farmers (about 98% of their portfolio) in southern Costa Rica, one of the poorest areas of the country. They use a village banking methodology, but one that is different from other organizations. The village banks operate quite independently, with the idea that they can be responsible for the economic development in their communities. The organization is really committed to training and financial education, and is working with some communities on organic farming methods and environmentally friendly agriculture practices. They have also received a social performance evaluation using a tool called CERISE, which indicated that they have strong outreach to poor and marginalized communities. Check out their loans on Kiva – they have been posting for about 1 month now. Also, be sure to check out the Fellows blog for more information about FUDECOSUR, written by the current Kiva Fellow, Karl Baumgarten.

The second, Fundacion Mujer just posted its first two loans today! Fundacion Mujer focuses on providing lending and training services to women in Costa Rica. The organization is very socially focused, and offers training to all clients, both in terms of women’s empowerment and specific business training. I can personally attest to the business training. When I was visiting their offices a few months ago, I happened on a day when they were having a hair dressing class, and I was "forced" to be a guinea pig and get my hair straightened by one of their borrowers! In addition to these classes, the organization tracks poverty levels of their clients over time and also received an evaluation using the CERISE tool. The organization focuses on serving some of the poorest women in Costa Rica with both loans and training. Check out their first two loans (and more to come!) here.

Both organizations have had difficulty accessing credit from other funders since many international funders won’t lend to Costa Rica because the country is "too rich." However, there is a lot of poverty in Costa Rica and these organizations definitely serve some of the poorest individuals in their country, so it is wonderful that Kiva can help them grow to reach more people in Costa Rica.