Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Featured Field Partner - Fundación Paraguaya

By Daniel Hinds, Review and Translation Program Intern

A student client who received an education loan.
Photo Credit: Fundación Paraguaya

Kiva Field Partner since: May 23, 2007

Loans through Kiva: $6,745,525

Number of entrepreneurs assisted through Kiva: 31,016

Focuses: Smaller and emerging entrepreneurs who are neglected by other microfinance institutions; Women as entrepreneurs (66.28% of their loans!); Economic education for children and youth; Education in organic farming and entrepreneurship for low-income youth from rural areas

Fundación Paraguaya, founded in 1985, is the institution that pioneered promoting entrepreneurs through credit and training in Paraguay. It works throughout the entire country, through 17 regional offices, and covers more than 136 cities. This Field Partner earmarks surplus from operations to capitalize its lending program; to finance, sustain and support its Agriculture School in the Chaco; and to strengthen its Junior Achievement program. All of these efforts are part of their strategy of expanding into the heartland of the country.

Tough Economic Landscape

According to the BBC, around 60% of Paraguayans live in poverty. As a result, many migrate to neighboring countries seeking better economic opportunities in order to support their families and themselves. To help struggling Paraguayans lift themselves out of poverty, Fundación Paraguaya has put together three successful, innovative programs focusing on microfinance, youth education, and agricultural education.

Not "Just Another" Microfinance Institution
Fundación Paraguaya’s clients are uniquely challenged economically. Fundación Paraguaya has microfinance products focused on small and emerging entrepreneurs who are otherwise neglected by microfinance institutions, socially- and environmentally-focused organizations, community projects, and women entrepreneurs. In fact, two thirds of their loans go to women entrepreneurs.

A Different Kind of Life Cycle Assessment

In addition to the excellent work they do as a microfinance institution, “their shining star is the agricultural [high] school” according to Kiva Field Support Specialist Lindsey Freedman. The school provides a space for students to learn agriculture, entrepreneurship, and even skills in hospitality and tourism. It is also basically self-sufficient, growing almost all of its food and using solar panels and other green technologies to produce its energy. When students graduate, most are hired by local farms, and all receive a line of credit upon graduation to begin their own microenterprise business. In fact, this program’s success has prompted Fundación Paraguaya’s partners in Brazil and Uruguay to open similar schools!

For more information on Fundación Paraguaya, click here.