Help Nicaragua's Poor Climb out of Poverty

by Opportunity International
Each student was escorted by a family member.
Each student was escorted by a family member.

In December, the inaugural class graduated from Emprendedora Technical High School in Nicaragua, a country where more than 48% of children never reach the sixth grade. Founded in 2012, the high school is part of Opportunity International’s Community Economic Development (CED) strategy to build on the local assets in a community to grow the local economy through the development of small and medium enterprises. Opportunity’s initiatives in Nicaragua are based on self-identified community needs, and we then partner with the community to help them achieve their goals whether it’s building a school, repairing a church, creating new roads, or ensuring clean water through a new aqueduct system.

The school was founded with just two classrooms and 60 students with the hope that it would help lift an entire community out of poverty. This year, the Emprendedora High School reached full capacity with 300 students in grades 7 through 11. It’s one of the only schools accredited by the Nicaraguan Ministry of Education (MINED) and the Technology National Institute (INATEC) which enables students to receive a technical degree in sustainable tourism or agriculture in addition to their high school diploma. The school is also accredited by Agriculture Best Practices (BPA) which promotes sustainable agriculture. The school has helped transform the entire community and runs several small agricultural and tourism businesses to give students real-world experience selling goods and services to cover the school’s operational costs.

One member of the class of 2016 is Roger. Four years ago, Roger had been expelled from a nearby school and without access to education he was destined to be trapped in poverty. Roger’s mother asked Opportunity to enroll him in the technical school and against all odds, Roger thrived; he was elected class president by his peers and graduated. During his studies at Emprendedora, he discovered he had a talent and passion for sales and hopes to start a business to raise and sell sheep.

Roger, is a reminder that talent is universal, but opportunity is not, and through your support, Opportunity will give more students like him the opportunity to succeed.

The first graduating class of Emprendedora
The first graduating class of Emprendedora
Roger receiving his diploma.
Roger receiving his diploma.

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Students from the Emprendedora Technical School
Students from the Emprendedora Technical School

By investing in hard-working Nicaraguan youth, families and farmers, you are providing the resources communities need to drive true development and holistic transformation. The Emprendedora (“Entrepreneurship”) Technical School was founded by Opportunity Nicaragua in 2012 and is one of many successful programs in Nicaragua, empowering approximately 300 rural youth. The school provides a relevant education preparing students for careers in hospitality or agriculture, the country’s two high-growth industries. Students can earn both a high school diploma and a technical degree in either agriculture or hospitality and receive hands-on experience through operating the school’s organic agricultural businesses, which include a vegetable farm, egg hatchery and butterfly farm. A new well was just dug to ensure that the school has proper irrigation for its agricultural businesses, and the school plans to increase agriculture production with at least two more greenhouses next year.

With the school’s very first class 48 seniors preparing to graduate, administrators are providing key professional opportunities in preparing for them to attend college or launch successful careers after graduation. Program and community leaders are conducting workshops to empower this year’s graduating class to embark on their future journey, and Opportunity is collaborating with local business leaders and international companies like Cargill to establish internships and job opportunities. A regional Cargill staff member is engaging local business leaders and is so impressed with Emprendedora and the students that she is proposing a mentoring program. The school also plans to host a job fair later in the year featuring guests from local or international employers. These unique educational and experiential programs combined with your support will prepare these students for a brighter future.

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Students from the Emprendedora Technical School
Students from the Emprendedora Technical School

Nearly ten years ago, Opportunity International embarked on a new program, expanding our mission to help Nicaraguan families and farmers unite to fully utilize their community’s economic, social and cultural assets. Today, all of the major programs, including the new yucca processing plant, the Emprendedora Technical School and the Pacaya Lodge, are achieving measurable success. We are grateful for your support and are excited to share the latest updates on how we are empowering Nicaraguans to improve their farms, businesses and entire communities.

Opportunity nearly doubled the number of Nicaraguan farmers it serves with technical support to 1,165 in March, up from 687 a year ago. Construction and installation continue at the new yucca processing plant which is now operational and will eventually help more than 1,000 yucca farmers extend the fresh time of their yucca from 24 hours to seven days. This will help marginalized farmers in remote areas increase their profits and better provide for their families, especially when combined with resilient farming techniques developed by agronomists. We are even collaborating with NASA’s climate team to inform weather projections and to provide farmers with better seeds, drought resistant measures and training.

The Emprendedora Technical School continues to redefine education by instilling ecological and environmental awareness through the Three R concept: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. The students receive a quality education while also managing an agro-business which provides experiential agriculture training and a strong source of income for the school. Excitement is also building as this year’s 48 seniors prepare to graduate - Emprendedora Technical School’s very first graduating class! These seniors are attending workshops where they are building resumes and practicing interview skills to empower them on their journeys toward independence.

Students are also receiving professional development opportunities at the Pacaya Lodge, a new environmentally sustainable lodge in the vibrant community of Laguna de Apoyo. In a country where fewer than 10% of rural youth finish high school, the lodge supports 296 students by contributing a percentage of revenues to Emprendedora Technical School. The lodge will not only create jobs and support education, but will also bring tourism and an influx of new businesses to the region, benefiting the entire community. 

Links:

Emprendedora Technical School Students
Emprendedora Technical School Students

Opportunity is redefining education in the developing world through our work with the Emprendedora Technical School in Nicaragua. All 180 Emprendedora Technical School students are thriving and testing above the national average, and this success is attributed to excellent school leadership and dedicated teachers. New classrooms have been added and kids are benefitting from world-class curriculum, nutritious meals and access to clean water from a new well. Emprendedora Technical School also broke ground to construct two more classrooms to reach its full enrollment of 300 students in 2016-2017. Most importantly, the students are gaining experiential skills from a student-run hatchery, vegetable farm and butterfly farm that are preparing them for employment upon graduation. These student-run agriculture programs now offset 50% of the school expenses, achieving good progress toward self-sufficiency.

Opportunity Nicaragua, the Emprendedora Technical School and private investors are also collaborating on an eco-hotel that will create community jobs, provide hands-on hospitality training for Emprendedora students and protect the local environment. Income from the hotel will contribute to the school beginning in Spring 2016, and Emprendedora students who are involved in the Tourism program have toured the site to gain an understanding of what is involved in opening a hotel. These unique educational and experiential programs combined with your support will prepare these students for a brighter future while creating sustainable job opportunities in their community.

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Liseth and her three children
Liseth and her three children

Four years ago, everything changed for struggling Nicaraguan farmer, Liseth. With very little knowledge about yucca and hibiscus farming and no access to capital, she was at a loss as to how to turn her farm into a profitable operation. In the meantime, her family suffered until a neighboring farmer introduced her to Opportunity. Armed with technical assistance, access to capital, seeds and markets, the sky is the limit for this mother of three growing kids. Today, both her yucca and hibiscus yields have increased by more than 30% as a result of the modern farming practices she is employing and the technical support she receives. Not only has her quantity grown but with a dramatically increased quality, her crops garner higher prices at market.

“I am delighted by the success I have achieved on my farm,” says Liseth, “but my greatest joy comes from using my increased income to invest in my children’s futures – their education, medicine and improvements to our home that have made it a safer, healthier environment. I have learned to continue to invest in my farm to ensure our future. I have most recently diversified my income to add pig, cattle and horse rearing. I had not thought about the impact I was achieving throughout the community until my Opportunity loan officer reminded me that the 30 jobs I have created for farmhands over the past four years helps the economy of the whole village. I am grateful for all I have accomplished. I feel empowered with a little help from Opportunity!”

Thanks to your support, Liseth and 1,307 of her fellow Nicaraguan farmers can provide for their families and harvest hope for their futures with technical assistance from Opportunity.

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Organization Information

Opportunity International

Location: Chicago, IL - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.opportunity.org
Project Leader:
Ian Haisley
Chicago, Illinois United States
$1,705 raised of $5,000 goal
 
31 donations
$3,295 to go
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