Help Nicaragua's Poor Climb out of Poverty

by Opportunity International
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. 


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.


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.


Children participate in Young Life crafts
Children participate in Young Life crafts

Opportunity International is committed to creating community-wide transformation in Nicaragua by engaging students, parents, farmers, educators, and business-owners in programs within their communities. By standing side by side with clients to improve livelihoods and listen to their needs, we are helping to develop self-reliant and empowered communities. We work alongside members of more than 20 communities to address their self-identified development needs. The team is currently managing eight community projects including water, roof repairs and piggery loans to a group of women farmers. In each community, we are partnering with local organizations to deliver training related to women’s reproductive health, preventative health measures, personal hygiene, domestic violence and sexual exploitation prevention. By supporting this initiative you have helped Opportunity International empower more than 600 women through critical awareness programs.

Opportunity International also strives to provide young people with places where they can gather safely to learn and play. Young Life Club provides adolescents with ways to build meaningful relationships through events, club meetings, and camps that are fun and relevant to their culture. Teens can participate in ice-breaker games, soccer leagues, and outdoor excursions. In Granada this year, Opportunity took 40 youth to camp for the very first time and 30 for follow-up camps, even providing retreats and growth-camps for the children’s parents.

Thank you for supporting our sustainable and socially responsible community economic development model. By providing youth with safe, engaging environments where they can learn, grow, and play, you are helping us build vibrant communities.


Students at the Emprendedora Technical School
Students at the Emprendedora Technical School

In Nicaragua, 2014 marked a time of expansion for Opportunity International. During this time of growth, we are strengthening our staff with leadership and development training, making improvements to schools, and focusing on engaging more than 1,000 farmer families during our expansions into the eastern region of Nueva Guinea in 2015.

Opportunity is currently providing 687 Nicaraguan with the technical support they need to succeed. The location of the recent expansion in Nueva Guinea will also be the site of our first satellite processing plant in 2016, which will process raw yucca into a cake form. This will extend the time the yucca stays fresh from 24 hours to seven days, allowing us to reach farmers in some of the most remote and poorest parts of the country. After experiencing a drought in 2014, many farmers continue to experience negative impacts to production, but Opportunity has supported farmers with modified loan terms, as well as new seeds to replace lost crops. We have also introduced a new planting technique, macro propagation, which results in 15 new seeds per yucca plant, up from the usual five seeds, in the hopes that this will help ease the burden on farmers from last year’s drought.

Opportunity International is also focused on improving and building upon the successes of schools throughout Nicaragua. The Emprendedora Technical School engages students in a mix of classroom work and experiential learning related to agriculture and environmental awareness. The school teaches students life skills while instilling core values that ensure self-reliance and improved potential for income-generating livelihoods when they reach adulthood. Not only did the school achieve full enrollment of 240 students for the 2014-2015 school year, but all students are thriving and testing above the national average. This success is attributed to excellent school leadership and dedicated teachers. New classrooms have been added and students are benefitting from world-class curriculum, nutritious meals and access to clean water from a new well.

By providing farmers with training and resources to improve their harvests, and by giving schools the tools they need to provide children with quality educations, Opportunity is creating holistic change in communities throughout Nicaragua.


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Organization Information

Opportunity International

Location: Chicago, IL - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Ian Haisley
Chicago, Illinois United States
$1,620 raised of $5,000 goal
29 donations
$3,380 to go
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