Region: Latin America and the Caribbean
CEPROSI (Nindiri, NICARAGUA) is an organization working to support grassroots micro-enterprise projects that provide sustainable economic opportunities for women in three local communities as well as to improve the nutrition and health of the wider community.
CEPROSI operates in three communities, Campusano, Portillo, and Papayal, where it runs three main cooperative initiatives: Artesanias de Tuza, focusing on handcrafts, including corn husk baskets, gift cards, and jewelry; Sol de Vida, an herbal health cooperative, providing herbal health education, and natural remedies to different types of ailments; and, Delicias de mi Tierra, an organic food cooperative, providing healthy food/meal preparation, pickling & preserving farmed produce to be sold as retail. CEPROSI assists the women’s enterprises with operational planning and the financial management of donations & loans.
Over the last year, 23 women have benefited from their own small businesses, while 86 from backyard economy, both of which are facilitated through CEPROSI-provided small loans with very low interest rates to interested community members. The loan recipients use the funding to create sustainable sources of food & income, and pay back into the revolving fund system. Apart from the women directly involved in the project, CEPROSI also indirectly supports around 109 families and 545 people, which mainly comprise the women’s relatives.
IPM contributes to CEPROSI’s projects through annual Project Payments and Immersion Experience Program (IEPs) donations for hosting our immersion groups. CEPROSI used the 2014 Project Payment was used towards covering the logistical expenses of women’s micro-enterprises.
In 2014, there were three Immersions to Nicaragua. At the same time, IPM directly supports the artisan micro-enterprise through the purchase of crafts at whole retail value, which it then sells in the U.S. at some of IPM’s events, such as Namaste!, with the purpose of raising awareness about the Project and showcasing the women’s work. Immersion Participants also support the cooperatives, by buying some of the women’s products while visiting Nicaragua. In 2015, like in past years, IPM will organize bilateral and multilateral learning conferences to bring the Latin American & Caribbean Partners together to learn from one another’s cooperative models.
The women involved in CEPROSI have always shown gratitude toward IPM and its support. For instance, Trinidad Flores, who had been with the Project for over seven years, recently stated: “IPM’s support and accompaniment gives the courage to continue fighting for growing our initiatives.” Rosalia Sevilla Huembes, who has been with CEPROSI for over ten years, further added that, since she became part of the organization, “I have a life project, I know what I want and for what I am making efforts all the time, working with and for women to better our quality of life and discover together that we are capable of changing our reality.”
II. Workshop Space
After several years of construction, two of the cooperatives, Artesanias de Tuza and Delicias de mi Tierra, have finished their workshop spaces, with the last one just being finalized in 2014, as the walls were painted and finished, and barred windows and security gates were constructed. The workshop space will be completed, when Sol de Vida will also have a room, which will be closed and more private than the others, due to a Ministry of Health requirement for any building with the purpose of processing medicine.
The workshop rooms enable women to hold meetings and discussions and have a safe forum for exchanging ideas and working together, while also acting as storage space for their products. The workshop space also allows all three women’s cooperatives to come together for group meetings on issues of collective importance, such as developing marketing plans to sell their products on the local and regional markets.
III. Partnerships, Coordination & Exchange Efforts
During the past year, CEPROSI has managed to organize successful partnerships and events with Bridges, the Mayor’s Office in Masaya, and participate in various forums, workshops, and round-tables on entrepreneurship & best practices, in order to strengthen their local initiatives.
As a specific example, in March 2014, some of the CEPROSI leaders participated in a forum, organized by the Flor de Nicaragua network and COSPE, which involved the participation of the network cooperatives, movements, organizations, and guest speakers from other parts of the country, as well as other Latin American countries, including Brazil and Costa Rica. During the event, the CEPROSI participants not only found out about the social economic and solidarity movements of these other entities, but also had an opportunity to create action plans and collaborative relationships at the local, national, and international levels.
CEPROSI’s Project, Coordinator Xenia Chevez, also took part in the General Assembly, organized by IPM during the week of October 13-17, 2014, in Cleveland. The General Assembly was a weeklong series of public luncheon and dinner events, held in celebration of IPM’s 40th anniversary, combined with Strategic Planning events for IPM. Over 10 Project Partners from countries around the world, including Brazil, El Salvador, Nepal, and Nicaragua, attended the General Assembly, which was a great opportunity to learn from each other’s initiative and augment the level of partnership & coordination.
In Nicaragua, with IPM-funding, CEPROSI has also been able to take part in the thirteen Masaya round-tables on entrepreneurship to consolidate the collective local efforts and focus on building a local market.
III. Chicken-Raising Project
With the rotation loans’ support, one of the new micro-enterprise initiatives has been a backyard economy one, the chicken-raising project, which is supported for each of the three communities.
As part of this project, 86 women were provided poultry, in order to contribute to their household’s food security and nutrition, by consuming chicken and eggs, which provide a source of protein.
At the same time, the poultry offers the women an income source, as they sell some of the chicken products on the local market.
At the end of each year, the women have to pay the new beneficiaries in kind with chickens as well as provide them the loan sum, while also setting a definite term for the upcoming repayment, in order to continue the expansion. The local agronomist provides suggestions and assistance regarding vaccines and deworming, but the women have to take care of the birds themselves.
IV. Goals & Projections
The Sol de Vida and Delicias de mi Tierra micro-enterprises need sanitation permits, because they have been granted legal status by the government. Maintaining the official recognition comes with a high level of regulation, especially regarding the food preparation. The legal cooperative status is crucial, because it opens up the possibility for governmental subsidy programs and can be a requirement for seeking other foreign aid sources, other than IPM. Some of the IPM-provided funding has already been used in the process of obtaining the needed sanitation permits as well as for the legal procedures required for updating the organization status at the Ministry of the Interior and General Revenue Office.
CEPROSI is also hoping to secure management & marketing training to expand its presence on the international market, as well as technical support for building a great online presence to raise awareness about the cooperatives’ products. It also hopes to secure equipment to improve its use of Internet services. In 2014, the organization used some of the IPM Project Payment to pay the Internet service and for general computer maintenance.
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