Foundation Fridays: Blazing an Eco-Friendly Trail

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The Untours Foundation invests in microlending in the Global South, where not all microlending is created equal. Many projects supported by microlending help individuals along the unsustainable and destructive path of Western development assisting in the purchase of dangerous pesticides, GMO seeds, cars, and the like. Instead, we look for projects that offer the Global South a real future and create a model for the North to eventually follow, we hope! SosteNica fits the bill for us.

This week’s guest blogger is Alan Wright, the founder and president of SosteNica — The Sustainable Development Fund of Nicaragua. Here’s Alan…………..

In February of 2009, the Untours Foundation made its first investment in sustainable development in Nicaragua through SosteNica.  The relationship has grown steadily since that time.

For more than two decades, SosteNica has promoted sustainable development in Nicaragua using micro-credits and training.  Working with its partner CEPRODELSosteNica’s focus fell initially on female entrepreneurs in poorer neighborhoods in the colonial city of León.  Then, when the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN León) opened its program in agro-ecology, we jumped at the opportunity to promote organic agriculture by hiring recent graduates from the non-toxic agronomy program.

But it wasn’t until we began training CEPRODEL’s leadership, including their CFO, CEO, and Board of Directors, in the arts of permaculture and agro-ecology did things really begin to shift.

These trainings were to be conducted in México, at a bio-intensive training center known as the Las Cañadas Cooperative.  The first group to be sent to México traveled overland in a van in 2007.  Shortly after crossing the border between Honduras and Guatemala they were ambushed, robbed and threatened with death.  While they survived the ordeal, they never made it to México.  Amazingly, a second group attempted the trip a year later, choosing to fly rather than to drive.  Five Nicaraguan men, four of whom were CEPRODEL leaders, attended a weeklong agro-ecology/bio-intensive workshop, which exposed them to a new way of thinking about sustainability.   In the coming weeks, I would like to share some of the things that they learned, and how it has influenced SosteNica and CEPRODEL’s work in Nicaragua, and how we use investments such as that of the Untours Foundation

“The future belongs to those who understand that doing more with less is compassionate, prosperous and enduring and thus more intelligent, even competitive.” Paul Hawken

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