March 12, 2014

Making a Difference in Nicaragua

Making a Difference in Nicaragua

Erin Walker, Founder of PurpleDirt, a collective of female artists and organizers based in Nicaragua and Canada, and Mellinda- Mae Harlingten, Head Designer for Bones and Stones,visited FINCA Nicaragua to experience how their contributions are changing lives.

“We arrived at the FINCA loan office in the heart of Leon around noon and were greeted with open arms by Xiomara Patricia Montenegro Pacheco, the branch manager. Mellinda and I wanted to see, first hand, the impact that PurpleDirt purchases are making in the Nicaraguan community, so off we went on a thrilling motorcycle ride down a windy dirt road.

“At the Santa Maria Church, we met one of FINCA’s newest groups. Beside a humble house and wedged between two clotheslines, a barbed wired fence and a broken down brick wall sat eight women and one man on plastic chairs out in the open air. Each had a slightly different story, but they all had a common goal—each and every one of them is trying to expand their business to feed and support their families.

“What makes FINCA interesting is its community-based accountability model. Entrepreneurs, similar to the nine people we met, form small groups to source loans. The belief is that your group will keep you inspired, will motivate you through countless small business cycles, and will ultimately increase your overall rate of success. If one member of the community fails, the others are there to offer support and help close the gap.

“The group we met will receive a loan of US $350. Between nine people, that works out to under $40 per person. Forty dollars! Think about how quickly we spend $40. Now think about how much that $40 means to a FINCA client in Nicaragua, and how far every purchase from PurpleDirt can go to change lives!

“It was a humbling experience, and I am proud to say, from my heart, my mind and my soul, that I truly believe that PurpleDirt is making a difference in Nicaragua.”