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Sostenica Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Mission: Promote sustainable economic development in Nicaragua

Results: Millions of dollars loaned and repaid. Tens of thousands of loans made to low-income borrowers. Thousands of dollars spent offering technical assistance to small farm families to achieve greater sustainability.

Programs: Micro-lending; technical assistance; reforestation; sustainable housing; agro-ecology workshops.

Community Stories

12 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Board Member

Rating: 5

I joined the Board of www.SosteNica.org in November of 2016, and have become over time better acquainted with, and increasingly impressed by, the organization's people, their accomplishments, ongoing activities and plans to help serve the endearing people of Nicaragua. In October of 2017, I spent a week in Nicaragua with truly amazing supporters of SosteNica (friends, family, other Board members) commemorating the organization's 25th anniversary, and also meeting with local young entrepreneurs, visiting schools we support, planting trees & building or funding clean cook stoves for local campesinos, and visiting Nicaraguan micro-credit partners. I didn’t know what to expect of this trip – but I knew I had to make it, to get more context regarding SosteNica's Nagarote EcoCentro activities and Nicaragua more generally - so I could be a better Board member. I was awestruck with the cheerful, welcoming and industrious Nicaraguan people, and the considerable challenges they face. The delegation members are each now new friends that I cherish; the Nicaraguan people have my utmost respect and admiration. It was an amazing trip – inspiring in fact…and I think my goals were met and exceeded. Indeed, my impressions of the organization and its mission are affirmed. It is an exceedingly deserving cause.

1 Jpadovan

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I heard of SosteNica through a family connection and was curious enough to take the trip down to see what they are doing for the people of Nicaragua with my own eyes. To my surprise, traveling along side us visitors were board members, an investor, the CEO, and the Founder of SosteNica. Working, sweating, teaching, and learning beside us the entire trip. That is what I, and now my friends and family back home, found so impressive about this organization. The people involved sincerely care for, and want to help these people and their country. There is no doubt that the money of it's supporters and lenders are in the right hands.
The micro-loans they lend to entrepreneurs who need the help getting a small business started is especially great. These people have such potential and it's only a lack of funds that are holding them back. SosteNica helps them with that.
Safe stove building is also so important for the safety and health of families cooking over open fire. Besides the obviously health benefits and greatly reduced burn risk, it requires much less firewood: less need to cut down trees. (And for those with land, a discount is offered for these stoves if the family is able to plant a number of trees). In turn, improving the health of the environment.
I had the privilege of attending a school that was celebrating having easy access to water again, and now a garden to water as well. All this thanks to SosteNica. This was a happy moment, but also sad to witness children with so little and having to face such difficulties in order to get an education. The fact that the government only provides them only with one meal of rice and beans a day, and that a garden with other nutrients from fruits and vegetables is such a luxury to them was hard to know. I was so grateful they had help.
It seems every service SosteNica has to offer is a win-win for both the people in need, and the environment. It is truly impressive.
This organization and the beautiful souls putting their heart and energy into it will stay with me forever. I can't wait to watch what else they will do for the people of Nicaragua and to do as much as I can to contribute with them.

Megan Dorris O.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My classmates and I had the opportunity to spend our spring break in Nagarote, Nicaragua with Sostenica. Their incredible staff welcomed us and guided us in our efforts to make a positive impact on the public health of the town. As a team, we were able to construct safe, environmentally friendly stoves out of locally sourced supplies for several deserving families. We also helped in reforestation efforts and cleaned up trash from a riverbed. Sostenica is changing the lives of countless Nicaraguan families, as well as American students, each and every day.

George Lindsay J.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Sostenica is about sustainable growth -- growth you can understand, see, and experience. Over 25 years, they have demonstrated a strong commitment to the principals they promote, while adapting their methods and specific programs to meet the needs and conditions in the communities they serve. There are many good stories, and they share them in their newsletters. Better yet, go to Nicaragua with a Sostenica group, as I recently did. Share in the work and experience the stories first hand. Nicaragua is a great place to visit, and Sostenica's Eco Center in Nagarote is a wonderful base. We visited farms and schools, helped to build a stove and plant trees -- and had a great time with the Sostenica staff and the families they serve.

Sostenica can also help your growth -- invest your money in Sostenica and it will grow even as it benefits the rural communities. I have been an investor for 20 years and they have never missed an interest payment.

2 DeLaura P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband and I have been involved with SosteNica since the early 1990's, first as friends/donors and, since 2009, as investors. Our family had the great good fortune to travel to Nicaragua in 2012, spending 2 weeks visiting SosteNica's numerous projects throughout the country. I am currently spending 6 months in Nagarote as a volunteer for SosteNica's newest project, the Eco Centro .

The Eco Centro includes a beautiful demonstration garden to educate the public on sustainable methods for growing food in small backyard spaces through our tours and workshops. Over 150 visitors, including a service delegation of Public Health graduate students from the US, have toured the Eco Centro since I arrived in January. We work continually with families in and around Nagarote to create sustainable, productive backyard gardens. Our services include workshops and training sessions, on-going technical support for seeds, best growing practices, irrigation systems, and training for soil conservation, well maintenance and water management which are crucial as climate change and a two-year drought wreak havoc on growing conditions here. Eco Centro develops and carries out local reforestation projects and is initiating a farmers' market and beekeeping/honey production operation in Nagarote to create new income streams for our producers.

Through our school garden project, we are teaching 250 children in 6 low-income rural schools techniques to create sustainable gardens that will diversify and enrich their school lunches of rice and beans which, in many cases, is the only meal the children get per day. Similar to 4-H projects throughout the USA, SosteNica believes in "learning through doing," so the children participate in all aspects of the gardens, from concept and design, through the digging and preparing of the soil, to planting, harvesting and enjoying the fruits of their labor. The children are encouraged to take their knowledge home and create gardens with their families.

We are also educating people to build clean, eco-friendly cooking stoves in Nagarote, Leon, and Matagalpa. These green technology stoves vent smoke out of the home, improving air quality and respiratory health of families. Our eco-stove design (a SosteNica original) consumes about one quarter of firewood needed for traditional Nicaraguan stoves, which will significantly impact the deforestation crisis of the nation. Additionally, the stoves cook with a more concentrated heat source, reducing cooking time and creating more time for other pursuits for the women of the families we serve. Working with an associate organization, SosteNIca has constructed about 50 eco-stoves in the last year.

The tireless efforts of SosteNica's team to educate and empower families to become more self-reliant, productive and healthy are a constant source of inspiration for me. I am honored to be part of this incredible network.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SosteNica is an incredible organization. I have spent the past nine months planning a service trip to support their many projects in Nicaragua, and I could not be more impressed with the dedication of the team. I have learned of their past work constructing eco-friendly sustainable housing, providing micro-loans to low income families, and planting school gardens. Now, our group of graduate students will be assisting SosteNica in building eco-stoves to reduce smoke inhalation and fuel requirements in rural Nicaraguan homes. I am very excited to begin our service project and proud to be supporting the SosteNica team.

5

Donor

Rating: 5

I have known Sostenica since its establishment some twenty years ago. In fact, I knew its founders since the eighties and I witnessed their commitment to improve the lives of many in the less developed countries. I find their actions to educate the young in sustainable agriculture practices and the promotion of family vegetable gardens to be exceptionally effective in improving lives while providing the fishing rod. This is a truly great nonprofit that deserves sustained and generous support.

5

Client Served

Rating: 5

SosteNica, a name that reassures the will to innovate, be socially committed and eager to educate.

Sostenica´s work in Nicaragua has left an important footprint which I´ve followed throughout clients who have been benefited with SosteNica´s investment in training and innovative ideas in the fields of microfinance, sustainable agriculture, and green technologies.

I feel part of this family, and it fills me with great pride to know that my effort is part of an even greater effort of hundreds of people who believe in the development of Nicaragua.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SosteNica's work is based on a holistic vision of sustainable development of the community. Its work addresses the real needs of the small producers that it helps, and aren't just "feel good" projects. Because the economy of the community of Nagarote is still very much rooted in agriculture, SosteNica helps to promote agriculture that is affordable, sustainable and diversified. I volunteered with the team for seven weeks, and it was extraordinary how dedicated the members were to helping the community, as they often rode for great length to each producer's farm to deliver technical assistance and support. In addition to going out into the field, the team also frequently held workshops and demonstrations on topics such as creating organic fertilizers and preserving produce. I also loved how the team started reaching out to schools to encourage the younger generation to have more interest in sustainability and responsibility for their natural resources. In particular, I had the opportunity to help with the sustainable family gardens initiative, which had real impact in providing more food security, economic opportunity and better diets for the producers. All in all, it was inspiring to see how SosteNica developed such a diverse array of complementary projects to support community development and natural resource conservation. I highly recommend you to check out their work on Google+ and Facebook--the pictures are great windows into the meaningful projects that they do!

3 tishgibbs35

Board Member

Rating: 5

I've been involved with SosteNica for many years and am impressed with the vision and dedication of its founder Alan Wright. Programs are well thought out and adjusted based on reviews and changes in circumstances always with an eye toward reducing climate change and building resiliance for Nicaraguans. The staff in Nicaragua is outstanding.

3

Board Member

Rating: 4

SosteNica is provides opportunities for North Americans to make a real impact in the lives of Nicaraguan farmers and small business owners through loans and technical support. I have been an investor since 2005 and also worked for three years as a staff member in Nicaragua, and can vouch for the integrity and quality of the loans services provided through their partner organizations. SosteNica is a small group of creative individuals who are skilled at taking limited resoures and maximizing their impact with creative combinations of credit and technical assistance. If you are interested in using your savings to make the world a better place socially, economically and environmentally, I urge you to make an investment with SosteNica.

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

SosteNica began its loan fund work in the early 1990s as one of the very first organizations to offer micro loans to those who would never qualify for larger bank loans. I visited the women's weaving cooperative which was the recipient of their very first informal loan. The operation was small, only about a half a dozen women - all mothers. Their production had stopped completely since they did not have the capital to purchase the cotton thread needed to get their looms up and running. SosteNica offered them a modest loan and drove them to Managua, the capital city, to purchase their yarn. While the initial loan was essential, the technical assistance and faith expressed in their abilities strike me as some of the unique features of SosteNica's program. More than twenty years later, this weaving cooperative is still producing beautiful loom-woven textiles and providing meaningful income to these enterprising women. To me, this is a profound testimony to the effectiveness of micro-lending. SosteNica has offered me and many others the opportunity to stand with Nicaraguans who are working tirelessly to improve their standard of living through small, local businesses and farms.