Thursday, October 3, 2013

Black Bean Project in Muy Muy

This post is written by Eric Pires, PHPG's Program Coordinator in the Matagalpa region.


Eric Pires, Matagalpa Program Coordinator, explaining the PHPG loan process to the Muy Muy clients

Matagalpa is a unique region of Nicaragua. The regional economy is heavily dependent upon the agricultural industry. The backbone of said economy is based around a variety of cash crops such as coffee and cacao. We have been identifying agricultural opportunities that capitalize on farmers’ capabilities as growers. Our most recent project has been through a partnership with a cooperative of fifty farmers and beekeepers in Muy Muy, Matagalpa. After discussing our financing opportunities, they approached PHPG with a project proposal. The cooperative has been seeking sources of credit to grow black beans. The local market for such beans is quite small as consumers in the region prefer red beans. That being said, the export market for black beans means that farmers could fetch a far higher price for their beans. As it so happens there is another cooperative in the region purchasing bulk amounts of black beans from farmers to export to Venezuela.

What PHPG has done is facilitate the meetings between the grower and buyer cooperatives leading to a purchase order for beans at a guaranteed price for our clients. The price may rise leading to even better prices but at the price we have negotiated they are guaranteed to triple their return on the initial investment. As soon as the contracts were signed, PHPG released the loan capital to the grower cooperative for them to buy bean seeds and begin upon this initiative. A portion of the loan capital has also been used to buy fertilizer and other agricultural inputs the farmers will need.

The Muy Muy loan clients enjoying a break in the PHPG presentation

We are also taking this opportunity to pilot a Microfinance Plus project. This project goes beyond offering loans to clients by also offering capacity building workshops. Together with the members of the cooperative, we have identified a series of workshop subjects ranging from sexual hygiene, water conservation and basic business marketing. We are contracting a group of experts in the region to design and implement the workshops on a monthly basis in collaboration with our clients. As well as improving their quality of life, we are hoping that through the workshops our clients will be able to develop innovative business ideas and opportunities they would like to pursue with future loans.

This project has been able to come together with the help of several other organizations operating in the region. ODESAR has been facilitating our meetings with the grower’s cooperative in Muy Muy. The Pulsera Project has supported us and contributed greatly to the financing of this project. They have been fundamental to PHPG’s ability to grow into new sectors and explore new initiatives in Nicaragua. Check back soon as we add more information on the progress with our Black Bean Project in Muy Muy.

Muy Muy loan client showing off his newly purchased black bean seeds

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