Help Nicaragua's Poor Climb out of Poverty

by Opportunity International
Help Nicaragua's Poor Climb out of Poverty
Help Nicaragua's Poor Climb out of Poverty
Help Nicaragua's Poor Climb out of Poverty
Help Nicaragua's Poor Climb out of Poverty
Help Nicaragua's Poor Climb out of Poverty
Help Nicaragua's Poor Climb out of Poverty
Help Nicaragua's Poor Climb out of Poverty
Help Nicaragua's Poor Climb out of Poverty
Emprendedora Technical School
Emprendedora Technical School

With you at our side, Emprendedora Technical School and its students have blossomed into a source of pride for surrounding communities. You have helped us create a modern facility and dynamic learning environment where opportunity abounds, delivering a measure of justice, dignity, and purpose for youth and families living in poverty. By joining us in our mission to empower young people and their families along their journeys toward financial security, you have created real excitement about their prospects for futures filled with good health, prosperity, and happiness.

Emprendedora Technical School continues to grow its student body, now at capacity. This growth translated into greater demand for space for student and community activities, including exercise and team sports.

Sports and team activities have played a key role in the development of Emprendedora students from the start, but with the completion of the multi-sport field, we can now engage other schools in the participation and excitement of joining sport leagues and tournaments. We also expect the improved sporting activities to promote good health, individual development, and team leadership while helping to build a pipeline of future students by garnering attention and interest among families attending local primary schools.

Additionally, the multi-sport field will serve as a meeting space for extracurricular activities including Young Life group gatherings and special events with students, teachers, parents, and the community.

On behalf of the student body and staff, thank you for your support and generosity! Our work would not be possible without you.


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Emprendedora school students
Emprendedora school students

Filled with a vibrant community, burgeoning economic opportunity, and breathtaking landscapes, Nicaragua is the United States' neighbor to the south that is slowly but steadily rising to increased economic prominence on an international scale.

Ten years ago, Opportunity International saw Nicaragua's potential and decided to launch its flagship project in the country for Community-led Economic Development. Through this program, you have helped Opportunity Nicaragua drive sustainable solutions that engage communities to build pathways out of poverty. Yucca farmers, young schoolchildren, and entire communities have experienced the support and reaped the benefits of participating in this initiative, earning greater income and the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and pave a way towards a future filled with sustainable opportunity.

Nicaragua, and the world, have made significant strides to reduce extreme poverty, providing many of Opportunity's clients with renewed hope and optimism. However, our work is not finished. There is still more to be done. Currently, 1 in 4 people in Nicaragua live on less than $1.90 a day. In order to meet these needs and continue providing pathways for hope, we need your support. Your continued investment in Opportunity's work in Nicaragua provides invaluable resources to families still struggling to break the cycle of poverty. Together, we can provide a beacon of light for those who have not yet been touched by the hope that change can and will come to their communities.

Nicaragua Country Profile

  • One of the Poorest Central American Countries - Nicaragua's GDP for 2017 was $13.81 billion and it ranks 165th in the world in terms of GDP per capita.
  • 1 in 3 People Live in Poverty - Poverty continues to run rampant, with 29.6% of its population below the poverty line as of 2015.
  • Most Families Rely on Agriculture for their Livelihoods - In Nicaragua, 31% of the labor force is involved in agriculture. The most commonly grown crops in Nicaragua besides yucca are coffee, bananas, sugarcane, cotton, rice, and maize.
  • Lack of Quality Education Perpetuates Poverty - Youth living in rural areas are least likely to complete their education, and low levels of student learning continue to hamper opportunities for youth.

What We Do

Opportunity Nicaragua believes that community-led economic development works best when it is both collaborative and asset-based. By helping communities realize and leverage the resources and gifts they already possess, Opportunity is equipping low-income families to drive the changes they wish to see in their communities.

In Nicaragua, tourism and agriculture emerged as two of the most promising industries through which low­ income communities can utilize their existing assets to increase their incomes and improve their livelihoods. Opportunity Nicaragua implements three core programs focused on engaging families, youth, and communities within these industries to stimulate economic growth and provide opportunities for building sustainable livelihoods:

  1. Economic Development Through Agriculture. Opportunity Nicaragua equips rural yucca farmers to improve their yields and incomes.
  2. Vocational Education for Youth. Opportunity Nicaragua provides relevant education to rural youth to help them develop in-demand skills for their future.
  3. Community Empowerment and Engagement. Opportunity Nicaragua supports community leaders in driving effective solutions to community-wide challenges that limit quality of life.

Together, these programs provide Opportunity with a strong focus to work collaboratively with communities to build sustainable pathways out of poverty.


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Because of your ongoing support, our work in Nicaragua continues to bring hope to those who need it most. 2018 was a tumultuous year for all Nicaraguans who lived in major political and economic upheaval. Even now, the country normalcy is slow. Operating in troubled regions is not new to Opportunity, and trials like this make us feel even more grateful for your support. Thank you for being a good neighbor to the families we serve in Nicaragua. With you by our side, we can continue to help youth, farmers, entrepreneurs, and communities to make lasting changes that increase their ability to thrive.

As of February 2019, there has been a slight reduction in anti-government protests, but the economy remains weak from the recession that began in October of last year. Amidst continuing political and economic woes negatively impacting many aspects of daily life, families and staff are working with strength and resilience. Opportunity Nicaragua is running the school, operating the yucca processing plant, delivering training and support to farmers, and supporting community transformation. A few highlights from David Kone, Program Head, include:

  • 100% of Emprendedora students have graduated. Staff transferred classes online during the most dangerous weeks of the crisis. When the school reopened, students returned to their classrooms without losing credit for the school year.
  • 317 farmers planted yucca in the Pacific South and Nueva Guinea, exceeding expectations during the national crisis. We expect to purchase about 75% of our total raw material from Opportunity farmers. Yucca quality, amount farmers retain for consumption, crop pricing, and strength of the local market are all factors that play a role in determining how much of their crops we can process. Ultimately, we want to buy 100% of the yucca processed from our farmers.
  • The processing plant is ready to export crops to the U.S. and Central America. We established an export plan for Costa Rica, Honduras, and Guatemala. We also established a distribution channel in Miami for U.S. markets. We conducted food safety tests on 100% of our finished food grade products and received initial orders from two companies, affirming the quality of our plant.

On behalf of our staff, students, families, and communities for your continued support!


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Update on the national crisis

  • In mid-April, President Daniel Ortega upset the nation with unexpected tax and social security reforms. Nicaraguans took to the streets in protest.
  • In early May, protests turned into violent encounters between protesters and military officials.
  • By June, the economy stalled. Businesses and banks closed. Many of Opportunity's services were temporarily restricted.
  • After more than 300 deaths, the conflict continues. Little headway has been made in peace talks mediated by the Catholic Church and the situation remains uncertain.

Despite these setbacks, Opportunity Nicaragua continues to operate its school, yucca processing plant, and training services for farmers and small businesses. Thanks to your support, our well-developed and resilient programs continue to empower families and communities, even in a time of instability.

Students are back in the classroom

After closing for several months due to safety concerns, the Emprendedora Technical School is now open again. Throughout the conflict, 94% of the student body has remained enrolled in school, largely due to the creative problem-solving and hard work of Emprendedora teachers and staff. Working closely with parents even when the school grounds were closed, staff moved lessons online and created internet hotspots so children could continue to learn from the safety of their homes. Teachers also regularly followed up by visiting families to check on student progress and household safety. Now that students are back in class, produce and egg sales from the school's agribusinesses are helping the school to reach 41% sustainability, despite lack of sales to Pacaya Lodge & Spa, which remains closed. Students continue to learn and remain on track to graduate as they attend Emprendedora with consistency once again.

A robust planting season for yucca farmers

This summer, 310 farmers still planted 727 manzanas (equivalent to more than 1,200 acres) of yucca throughout the Pacific South and Nueva Guinea. Despite the increased difficulty in accessing seeds and fertilizer and financing for their yucca, our clients committed and followed through, even utilizing new farming techniques and planting multiple seed varieties. Between these techniques and adequate rainfall, the yucca crop looks promising for a good harvest this year.

Processing plant is certified and ready to go

Opportunity Nicaragua staff expertly braved roadblocks and barriers to ensure the processing plant could undergo food-grade recertification. In Nicaragua, the Safe Quality Foods certification requirements were updated, prompting the plant to undergo certification again. The staff worked tirelessly to ensure the plant was prepared for the new requirements and that auditors could travel safely to the plan amid roadblocks and ongoing conflict. The plant scored 97% - an extremely high score that proves its quality to our buyers and will allow the yucca products to be sold in more markets for a higher value. We rejoice in this good news and in the hard work of our processing plant staff that made this a reality. The plant already has the inventory to fill orders for clients in Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Thank you for your continued support of Opportunity's programs and clients in Nicaragua as they continue to navigate their uncertain circumstances. Your continued support is bringing positive transformation, hope, and assurance.


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The 2018 academic year at Emprendadora Technical School kicked off in January with full-capacity enrollment of just over 300 students. Additionally:

  • The new library and multi-media center were completed. The IT team is finalizing the project to provide internet connectivity across the entire campus.
  • The well continues to perform well, pumping water at desired levels. The well is expected to earn nearly $200,000 in revenue in 2018, pushing the school toward sustainability.
  • Staff remained heavily focused on post-graduation activities, including job placement and university application assistance.

Chicken and Organic Farming Businesses. With your support, we doubled yucca production compared to the previous year. The harvest will be sold to a processing plant, and proceeds will contribute toward school sustainability. This season, the school planted beans as well as yucca. We also: 

  • Purchased 800 chicks, doubling the inventory of 630 in the prior year.
  • Increased inventory of fumigation pumps, grass reapers, tools, and protective equipment.
  • Delivered experiential learning to students who farmed the micro-tunnel, maintained temperature and humidity logs, and learned trellising and mulching techniques.

Goals for 2018 include the purchase of a pickup truck to deliver the school’s produce to buyers, and improvement to one of the macro tunnels to increase air circulation.

Teacher Capacity-building amps up education quality. Because of your investment, 18 teachers participated in training to build their capacity and competency to better serve their students. Teacher training curriculum included:  

  • Active teaching techniques that support multiple student learning styles 
  • Work-plan development for maximum classroom outcomes and results  
  • Effective and open communication among teachers and students 
  • Incorporating the environment and natural resources in learning objectives 

The goal for 2018 is to continue to build up teachers’ capacities and enable them to achieve greater results in the classroom. We will define a more robust training plan to address specific areas identified by the teachers. 


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Organization Information

Opportunity International

Location: Chicago, IL - USA
Opportunity International
Ian Haisley
Project Leader:
Ian Haisley
Chicago , Illinois United States

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