In early 2014, Fabretto opened two new SAT centers in the communities of Sonis and Cacauli, outside of the town Somoto. Fabretto also welcomed 152 new students to the SAT program. In 2013, SAT students created seventeen small business initiatives, and students have added ten new businesses in 2014. A total of 78 youth and 7 parents are actively generating income through these productive initiatives, which include growing coffee and chia, selling used clothing, making fruit smoothies, beekeeping, and raising chickens.
One of the youth driving this progress is Gilberto, the newly elected president of the San Isidro de Bolas school cooperative. “When I came to Fabretto, I was only interested in playing soccer”, Gilberto admitted with a smile. He had heard about the San Isidro SAT program through his cousin, who also mentioned that soccer was popular in the schoolyard. “However, with the SAT program, I soon began to understand that life is not just a game,” he explained.
Today, Gilberto is in his final year of the SAT program. During his term as the cooperative's president, Gilberto's main ambition has been to motivate the cooperative’s members to start their own projects. Gilberto worked at an artisan workshop in the past, and he dreams of starting a hammock business. While preparing his business plan, Gilberto has inspired his peers to take action as well, and the cooperative is receiving more loan applications than ever.
Gilberto aspires to use income from his business to fund his university studies after graduating from SAT. He also wants to use his new position to improve the lives of others. “Being president helps me to become an entrepreneur myself. But apart from my personal needs, I can also help other people; help them to work hard and work hand in hand with them. I also want to support my family and serve my community by providing work for those who need it.”
The 2014 school year began in February, including new programs in two communities outside of the town Somoto, Soní and Cacaulí. This year, SAT continues to prepare students for economic success. SAT tutors engage students in business activities to develop entreprenuerial spirit, in addition to providing excellent preparation for university studies and formal employment. In rural Nicaragua, lack of economic opportunity forces young people to migrate to urban centers to seek low wage employment. With quality education that teaches skills relevant to the rural environment, SAT helps talented youth succeed at home and develop their own communities. The two SAT student cooperatives also allow students to apply for loans and start small businesses. SAT promotes gender equity in all activities, and in 2013, 60% of the students involved in business initiatives were female.
Olvin, from the tiny rural community El Castillito, is one exemplary student who has benefitted from SAT's focus on relevant skills, particularly in agriculture. The SAT program has given Olvin a chance he never had before: access to education beyond 6th grade. Olvin had worked for seven years after finishing sixth grade, but when his mother attended a community meeting and found out about SAT, he enrolled immediately. This year, he will completed the program and receive his high school diploma in December.
In 2013, Fabretto selected Olvin for a scholarship to study a technical course in Administration of Coffee Farms in Jinotega, Nicaragua. Although the scholarship was originally intended for a Fabretto staff member, the staff nominated Olvin for his great potential. He completed the course and since then has provided technical advice as a consultant to the 5 de Junio Coffee Cooperative, originally created with Fabretto's support. Olvin's knowledge has helped the cooperative with crop diversification and the development of a new initiative to grow and export organic chia.
Olvin plans to continue working in agriculture, and SAT has opened up many opportunities to continue learning and progressing. This year, he will apply for a scholarship to study agricultural engineering at a university in the closest city. He currently is involved with a business initiative to grow strawberries and make strawberry jam with his fellow SAT students. Further in the future, he hopes to manage his own coffee farm in El Castillito using the skills he learned in the course in Jinotega and join the 5 de Junio Cooperative. In our interview, Olvin reflected, "All of us in SAT are young, but we have a vision: moving forward." With the SAT program, Olvin and his fellow classmates are driving economic and social development in their rural communities.
This December, Fabretto proudly celebrated the high school graduation of 52 SAT students. The SAT program acheived a 97% retention rate this year, a great achievement, especially compared with an estimated 75% retention rate in all Nicaraguan secondary schools. The 48 SAT tutors received continuous training throughout the year to improve teaching skills, knowledge of curriculum, and understanding of the program’s unique methodology.
This year, Fabretto's SAT program received international recognition as one of fourteen finalists for the WISE (World Innovation Summit for Education) Awards, sponsored by the Qatar Foundation to honor the most innovative education projects around the world. Helena Edwards, Fabretto Director of Programs, shared the SAT model on the global stage at the WISE Summit this fall (watch her presentation here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J805iHj04b0).
The SAT small business initiatives and the two student cooperatives are thriving. In 2013, SAT student business activities included baking traditional biscuits, growing fruits (strawberries, pitaya, pineapple), beekeeping, producing cajetas (Nicaraguan candies), buying and selling used clothing, and producing coffee. With the income generated by these businesses, students can contribute to the family income while continuing their studies.
One dedicated tutor, Danys , supported a group of students in executing a business plan, obtaining a loan, and purchasing an electric mill for the rural community El Carrizo near San José de Cusmapa in April 2013. The mill, owned and operated by two SAT students and their families, contributes directly to community development and enables other students to pursue business ventures of their own, including rosquillas biscuits and cajetas (traditional Nicaraguan candies). This summer, his fourth and fifth year students began a new initiative to produce pinol, a popular corn-based drink. Watch this short film to learn more about these inspiring students and their tutor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWsKwPVc4Nk.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.