Using Micro-lending to Create Sustainable Sources of Income
The environment suffers when local economies collapse. Where income sources are in short supply, people will often exploit natural resources to make ends meet. In doing so, they sacrifice the long-term health of their ecosystem for short-term economic stability. As part of our work in the Nandamojo, we acknowledge this reality and are working to confront it.
An influx of foreign investment in Costa Rica over the past two decades has produced a radical change in the economics of the region. A system that was dominated by agriculture quickly accommodated large tourism and construction industries. Within a generation, many workers left their family farms to pursue jobs in those sectors, most notably during a 2006-2007 real estate boom.
Therefore, the residents of the Nandamojo were much more vulnerable to the global economic crisis, which dramatically reduced foreign investment in the region. Now, in a valley where most families used to grow all of their own food, many are susceptible to the rising price of imported grain. People who previously counted down the days until the harvest anxiously await the return of tourists every December.
In order to reinvigorate the local economy, create sustainable sources of income, and foster a stable livelihood for the residents of the Nandamojo, Restoring Our Watershed has created a micro loan fund. Money donated to the fund is used to make interest-free loans to local entrepreneurs to start sustainable food production activities.
We will finance projects to produce honey, eggs, poultry, vegetables, and other foodstuffs, always working with the borrower to develop a business plan and ensure that their project is environmentally sustainable. Mi Tierra, a for-profit sister organization of Restoring Our Watershed, also helps the new micro entrepreneur market and distribute their wares.
Read more about how the Micro Loan Fund works.