Fundación Campo began in 1995 as a part of a four-part CARE El Salvador social reinsertion project launched after the end of the brutal 12-year Salvadoran civil war. Eastern El Salvador, particularly the state of Morazán, was one of the most heavily disputed territories during the conflict and was the site of FMLN guerrilla encampments and a notorious massacre of some 1,000 farmers in 1981. At the time of its founding, Fundación Campo had two goals:
- Reestablish a social network and provide basic infrastructure to the primarily rural communities that were severely affected by the armed conflict, which was brought to an end through the peace accords.
- Provide the inhabitants of those communities with some economic and technical resources to earn income and/or improve their current income, with the end goal of minimizing social tensions stemming from the poverty in which they lived, thus improving the viability of the transition process from war to peace.
The MFI partners with already-established Community Development Associations (ADESCOs, community organizations that are part of local municipal governments) to reinsert community members affected by the civil war - including combatants - into productive agricultural projects by providing loans at subsidized interest rates. ADESCOs are comprised of anywhere from 20-150 community members and work in conjunction with their local mayor’s office on community development projects. For their partnership with Fundación Campo, each ADESCO elects a 3-5 person credit committee to review loan applications from the community. Once a loan has been approved by the MFI, the credit committee is responsible for disbursement.
Fundación Campo's Headquarters in San Miguel: Photo Credit - Andrea Ramirez
Fundación Campo also operates a Community Development Unit (UNDESCO), which aims to work directly with communities to provide technical assistance, training and capacity building, improve health, education and access to basic services and infrastructure, and drive the development of projects that strengthen the local economy. They also have a high school scholarship program that supports young people from rural areas who face economic limitations and have a strong desire to get ahead in life.
From what we’ve heard so far, Fundación Campo is a friendly and hard-working organization. During lunch time, if you forget to bring anything, it is likely someone will feed you, and most likely you will eat better than if you had brought your own lunch. The office is a collaborative one. A week ago, one of the employees cut down some coconuts from the coconut tree in the backyard and the entire office in San Miguel had an afternoon coconut break. The employees work such long days that some of them are literally living at the office. One of the managers actually sleeps at the new branch office at least 3 times a week!
Laguna El Jocotal, nearby many Fundación Campo clients: Photo Credit - Andrea Ramirez
Fundación Campo will use Kiva funding primarily for subsistence agriculture loans. The added savings resulting from Kiva’s 0% interest funding would be invested to further develop the UNDESCO and its innovative wraparound services, including educational and technical assistance programs, a loan officer training school, and a value chain pilot project that is currently being developed with local producers’ associations.
Thanks to the tireless Cynthia McMurry for her work to bring Fundación Campo on board, as well as Andrea Ramirez, Kiva Fellow extraordinaire, who is on the ground and working hard to get them up and running.