Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Featured Field Partner- MiCrédito, Nicaragua

Written by Kimberly Friedland, Review and Translation Program Intern

MiCrédito, Nicaragua

Kiva Field Partner since: December 1, 2010
Loans through Kiva: $51,825
Kiva Entrepreneurs Assisted: 97

MiCrédito is notable for its experimental program to provide student loans for university projects. The program, still in its pilot stages, began in October 2010 at the Universidad Católica Agropecuaria de Trópico Seco (Catholic University of Dry Tropic Farming and Livestock), located in northern Nicaragua. Kiva Field Support Specialist Cameron Morris explains that the program “provides financing for projects that allow students to put theory learned in the classroom into practice. The hope is that this will prepare the students to become small business owners when they finish their studies and will teach them how to manage credit responsibly.”

On Febuary 18, 2011, Kiva Fellow Karen Gray visited the Universidad Católica Agropecuaria de Trópico Seco in Esteli, Nicaragua to see the pilot program for herself. Karen compiled the following information based on her visit. Here, we focus on a group of students who used the loans to cultivate and sell cabbage.

Photo: Students Romen, Judelkis, and Marjorie farm cabbage.

Project: Cabbage Farming
Loan Amount: $100 distributed to each of 12 students
Interest Rate: 1.5% per month
Loan Term: 6 months (October 2010 – April 2011)

Procedure: The university took out one loan with MiCrédito for the cabbage project. Though the students didn’t handle the loan money directly, they were responsible for planning project expenditures, cultivating the vegetables, and measuring results from the accompanying experimentation. The university is responsible for loan repayments.

Horticulture Description: To cultivate the cabbage, three types of fertilizer were used on different parcels of land. Students measured the varying physiological, metabolic, and overall effect of each fertilizer on the life cycle of plant, evaluating the parcels for quality and yield and finally selecting one as optimal.

Results: Though the crop quality was high, the yield was low. The university sold the resulting produce on campus, and in subsequent projects the university would like to expand off-campus. Future project iterations will place further emphasis on commercialization of the produce in order to equip students with industry business acumen. They may also use future loans to cultivate high quality tomatoes and to raise pigs.

Photo: 20-year-old Milvia is in her third year of agricultural engineering. With the student loan through MiCrédito, she learned not only to cultivate cabbage but also to handle the business and investment required. Although the irrigation system wasn’t adequate for the field, she says she still had a good experience with the project. Here Milvia is pictured holding a print-out of her Kiva profile page.

Learn more about Karen Gray's visit to MiCrédito.
Read Cameron Morris's Fellows Blog post on MiCrédito.

Photos provided by Karen Gray.