Money is always tight for Nicaraguan farmers during the months between harvests—when they have no income from their crops but many expenses to maintain their farms. Men typically have access to microloans to make it through these “lean months,” but women, who lack formal education and land rights, are often excluded from these opportunities. Although their work is vital to the rural economy, a male-dominated culture has overwhelmingly discounted their contributions.
We’re working to break down these traditional barriers. Partnering with Mercy Corps and the Aldea Global cooperative, we’ve created a microloan program tailored specifically to rural female coffee farmers in Nicaragua. With loans ranging between $100 and $200, women can purchase the supplies, tools, and machinery they need to manage their coffee plots. Microloans are awarded during the months when there is no income from crops, and can be repaid after coffee is sold from the harvest.
These microloans are just the first step in gender equalization efforts in rural Nicaragua. We’re also encouraging women to become involved in leadership opportunities, so they’ll begin to see that they have an important role to play in society, as well as an inalienable right to be involved in all aspects of farming, business, and community processes.