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2015 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Working Capital for Community Needs, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Economic Development, International, International Development, International Economic Development, International Human Rights, Microfinance, Promotion of International Understanding

Mission: Founded in 1984, Working Capital for Community Needs (WCCN) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit impact investing fund whose mission is to create opportunities for access to microfinance, services and markets to improve the lives and communities of the working poor in Latin America. WCCN empowers low-income Latin American entrepreneurs by sustaining partnerships with microfinance organizations and fair trade coffee organizations in Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Peru. The people who receive our support have the abilities, work ethic and hope for a better life. What they don’t have is access to financial resources and capacity building. As an investor and/or donor of WCCN, you can personally partner with us to make this important work happen.

Results: We count the following among our accomplishments in 2015: • 27,898 microborrowers and farmers served • 64% of the people we served were women • 49% of the people we served were from rural areas • $1,230 average loan size to a microborrower, 38% below the regional average of $2,000 • Total portfolio outstanding at 2015 year-end: $11.9 million • $109 million invested in Latin America cumulatively since 1991 • 5 new partners and 30 repeat partners in 6 countries • 50% of WCCN’s 28 microfinance partners provided services other than credit to their microborrowers • 88% of WCCN’s 7 fair trade agriculture partners provided technical assistance, education, and other services to their farmers • 88% of the portfolio invested in microfinance and 12% in fair trade agriculture at year-end • 100% of our agriculture partners follow fair trade and environmentally friendly practices • $6 million in new loans disbursed by WCCN in 2015 • 2.5 million pounds of coffee financed

Target demographics: the poor and marginalized work their way out of poverty

Direct beneficiaries per year: nearly 30,000 microfinance borrowers and family farmers access financing.

Geographic areas served: South and Central America

Programs: micro-credit, fair-trade finance, women's empowerment, housing, and grants for technical assistance and capacity building.

Community Stories

21 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Donor

Rating: 5

My husband and I first heard about this organization and made an initial investment in
2008. We watched their growth in alleviating poverty in Nicaragua through their
microfinance program to small businesses and low-income farmers. We are very happy
that the lending has spread to so many other impoverished countries in Central America.
We feel it is a program that works, brings hope and provides resources to the working poor.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Excellent organization with great communication for investors and donors!

2

Former staff

Rating: 5

WCCN finances organizations that many other impact investment funds won't touch, since they are higher risk due to their smaller size and/or remote location.

Jeff107

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Recent worked with these folks and found their program to be extremely efficient and successful.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

While microfinance might be trendy and groups come and go, WCCN has been helping women, farmers and entrepreneurs for 30 years in some of the toughest and poorest areas of Central and South America. WCCN gets measurable results by working with established in-country partners who can navigate tough local economies and even tricky local politics. What separates WCCN from other groups is a commitment to showing off their work by taking real investors into the field to hear directly from real borrowers. The first person stories and connections made on those trips solidify and expand the investor network back in the states and help WCCN to reach more borrowers in more places. I have proudly donated to WCCN through a workplace giving campaign for 5 years.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

WCCN is a great place for those who want to get started in impacting investing to help to make a better world and, in particular, to improve the life of the poor in Central America. Central America is one of the poorest regions in the western hemisphere so the impact of your dollars is great. WCCN has a long history through which it has refined its practices to make loans to its "partners" (usually microfinance institutions) who then lend to very poor borrowers. While that does not eliminate risk, it provides a lot of comfort. My wife and I have invested through WCCN since 2009.

Donor

Rating: 5

As a Wisconsin native and UW-Madison graduate, I've supported WCCN since it's NICA days. I support their efforts to combat poverty in Latin America and appreciate all they do to encourage self-reliance in development.

Dr. Jason Weisfeld
Rochester, Vermont

Donor

Rating: 5

I first became a member of WCCN when the Contra War raged in Nicaragua. Since that time, I have been a microfinance lender and donor through WCCN. I have been consistently impressed by this group's dedication and passion to sustainable, help-others-to-help- themselves solutions.

WCCN does great work supporting organic fair trade coffee cooperatives, building sustainable housing and agriculture, and otherwise helping the working poor of Central and South America build better lives in a manner that is good for the planet and dignified for the people being helped. The people who work and volunteer for this group live modestly in order to focus their efforts on helping these groups. They are truly helping to make the world a better place. I'm proud to support this organization every year.

Asano F.

Donor

Rating: 5

WCCN is doing a great job of allowing the people of Central and Latin America to make a dignified and decent living in their home countries.
On a study tour sponsored by WCCN I met a number of individuals and cooperatives that receive the loans from WCCN in Nicaragua. My favorite group receiving a loan was La FEM (Fundacion Entre Mujers). This group of women use their loan money to buy land in the women's names and grow organic coffee. We got to see how they make organic compost with worms. Not only do these women farm but they educate themselves in women's health care and fight abuse of women in their country.
I have been donating money to this organization for years and recently I became an investor. Now not only am I helping to provide a way for the peoples of Central and Latin America to make a living but I also make a small interest when they pay back their loans.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been working with WCCN since I was a graduate student in 2002. Since then, I have continued my involvement as a committee member, board member, and donor. I strongly believe in the power of microfinance to empower the world's working poor. However, even more impressive to me is the way that WCCN has remained a steady presence and trusted partner in the world of microfinance for more than 20 years. While microfinance has come and gone as an investment darling, WCCN has been there for our partners helping them benefit from good times and weather bad. They provide a lot of technical assistance as well as financing, allowing organizations to continue to grow and maximize their potential.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I started my career in finance as a intern at WCCN. I got to witness firsthand the remarkable impact the Organization has on the working poor in Central America. I traveled with WCCN to record the stories of the borrowers in Nicaragua. I heard testimonial from borrower after borrower about how loans provided by WCCN dramatically improved the quality of their lives by allowing them to start small businesses or improve their housing. I highly recommend investing with WCCN and traveling to Central America on one of their study tours. I promise the experience will change your life for the better.

Donor

Rating: 5

I invested in WCCN a number of years ago. The micro loans it provides assist people who otherwise would not have the ability to improve their lives. These are not handouts and the people WCCN serves deserve the assistance. The loans are repaid and people are empowered to build and assist their families and communities. I am proud to have invested in WCCN and to see the important work being done by a great group of extraordinary people, at both the giving and receiving ends of WCCN's work.

Sally Stix

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

WCCN does invaluable work, providing the link between hard work and success. Rather than solely providing charity, the organization empowers people to take ownership of their own future and shape the direction of their business. Further, WCCN prioritizes underserved populations, particularly women and indigenous business owners. Their work results in very effective poverty eradication.

Newob

Volunteer

Rating: 4

WHEN has the unique capacity to advance the efforts of NO volunteers engaged in grass roots people to people humanitarian projects.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I've seen the wonderful work WCCN does in Nicaragua.

Board Member

Rating: 5

WCCN is a unique and wonderful organization dedicated to providing access to funds, services and markets in order to improve the lives and communities of the working poor in Latin America. The assistance offered is based on specific financial and social metrics that ensure both a real impact in the lives of the individuals and communities served as well a secure and meaningful return to its investors. I am so impressed by the successes that WCCN has achieved over the past 30 years that I have dedicated my time to the Board of Directors since 2013.

I have both lived and volunteered in Latin America (serving the 'working poor' through Peace Corps service) and I can solidly endorse WCCNs efforts and mission to be truly meaningful, relevant and successful.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been a member and donor of WCCN since the 1980s. It's a unique people to people organization which began as a sister state relationship between Wisconsin and Nicaragua. It's small lending relationship with CEPAD, the Nicaraguan (protestant) Council of Churches has grown into a much larger
CDFI (community development financial institution) with 26 partner lending NGOs in 6 Central and South American countries. WCCN has safely lent over $98 million for microfinance and high social impact ventures, our current portfolio totaling over $12 million, $10 million of which is borrowed money from impact investors. It remains a solidarity organization with the people of Nicaragua and 5 other countries.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I joined the WCCN Board in 2014. Back in 2010 I wrote a MA thesis criticizing the direction of microfinance in Latin America. I can tell you that WCCN does it right. The WCCN team puts in an incredible amount of time and energy into studying the organizations they make loans to, and only give money to ones with great social metrics and values. I am proud to be a part of WCCN. It is easy for any one to be involved in this organization as they take retail investments.

Charlene T.

Donor

Rating: 5

I came for the coffee, it's the brand I buy; I stay for the amazing difference a small amount of money can make!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Working Capital for Community Needs (WCCN) strives to provide the working poor with access to microfinance. As an intern in the summer of 2014, I had the opportunity to personally promote WCCN's mission across numerous social media platforms. Being able to share stories of economically prosperous entrepreneurs and farmers from some of the poorest communities in Latin America was the most rewarding experience I have had while working. WCCN gives hard-working people the financial resources and technical assistance they need to achieve a better life not only for themselves, but also for their families. I urge you to support WCCN and further promote its mission with the hope of improving just one more life through microfinance.

Tom_63

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am incredibly impressed with the mission of WCCN and honored to be recently added to the organization's Board of Directors. WCCN has been empowering people in Latin America to help themselves for 30 years, but that's just the beginning. There is a new energy in the organization that is leading to bigger and better things in the future. Microfinance loan support will continue to be a major part of the mission, but there will be increasing opportunities to help people in Latin America through other means, especially women. WCCN is a great organization with strong leadership. I strongly endorse this organization and encourage you to consider supporting it.

Review from Guidestar