Friday, February 17, 2012

Social Performance In Action: Tech Training and Education in Costa Rica

In addition to loans, many of our field partners go above and beyond by offering their clients additional services and support in a variety of areas. In an effort to encourage and measure the impact of these products and services, we established a Social Performance team here at Kiva and awarded these partners with badges corresponding to each area of support. This blog series seeks to provide our online community with stories from the field about the amazing work some of our partners are doing to meet specialized client needs.

Today, we're taking a closer look at field partner Foundation for the Development of Southern Communities (FUDECOSUR), a non-profit microfinance institution (MFI) established to promote development in the poorest regions of southern Costa Rica. FUDECOSUR has a strong commitment to social performance, exemplified by its profit distribution system tailored to meet important social needs.

Recycling training with borrower group - Photo by Julie Kerr KF 16

Here’s how it works

Profit surpluses are distributed to any village bank community in need of training. The program, coordinated directly by FUDECOSUR's director and loan officers, provides free technical training and education to improve community health and sanitation, increase crop yields, and expand alternative job opportunities. Some of the training courses offered in the past include:

• Computer literacy for children and adults

• Food handling and sanitation, with a curriculum designed to improve community health and support small food service businesses

• Recycling

• Water purification

• Sewing and clothes making

• Coffee cultivation, including planting and maintenance techniques to increase crop yields

• Livestock health for improving animal care and output by identifying nutrition needs, resources and supplements, optimal pasture care and maintenance, new illness identification, prevention and treatment methods

• Hydroponic farming to optimize more environmentally-friendly, pesticide-free, fungicide-free and disease-free agriculture

Turning used paper into hand crafted cards for borrowers to sell. Photo by Jule Kerr, KF 16. 

In addition to the seminars, FUDECOSUR regularly partners with a biologist from the Social Environmental Management Department of Grupo ICE, the national electricity and telecommunications company, to provide community recycling training to village bank communities. Courses include educational presentations plus hands-on practice.

After training is complete, members of the community work independently to establish, maintain and strengthen their community recycling programs by educating neighbors and establishing regular collection dates. Women from FUDECOSUR village bank communities often request recycling training to help increase incomes for community members, given that recyclables can be sold to manufacturing companies.

Currently in Costa Rica, municipal garbage collection and dumping services do not separate materials, making recycling education even more important for ecologically-friendly waste disposal -- especially considering that hazardous and toxic materials like batteries require special handling.

Stay tuned every other Friday for a new Social Performance in Action story from the field.

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