Nicaragua is one of the Western Hemisphere's poorest countries. Half the population lives below the poverty line and people suffer low per capita income ($2,900) and massive underemployment (46.5 percent). Distribution of income is among the most unequal on the planet. Some 52.2 percent of workers are in services, 30.5 percent are in agriculture and 17.3 percent work in industry.
As in many developing countries, poverty is concentrated among women. A high percentage of Nicaragua's average homes have a woman as head of household: 39% of urban homes and 28% of rural ones.
Climate for microfinance:
• Nicaragua's regulatory environment is in a transitional phase, due to the pending enactment of "The Special Microfinance Law," which has already been approved by the National Assembly but is being reviewed by special commissions.
• Concerns over corruption, control over the levers of power, political rivalries, and presidential elections set for November 2006 dominate the national scene.
• The likelihood of a new government enacting major structural changes affecting FINCA and the microfinance industry is considered remote, given Nicaragua's 2006 entry to the Central America Free Trade Association, tenets of which dictate treatment of multinational organizations.
FINCA Nicaragua (Founded 1992)
FINCA Nicaragua delivers its vital microcredit services in Managua, León, Chinandega, Masaya, Granada, Rivas, Jinotepe, Boaco, Chontales, Matagalpa, and Jinotega. Most clients are storeowners, but their businesses also include manufacturing, services, farming, and fishing.
Many are single mothers who provide the sole source of income for their families. A number of clients in Masaya are members of the Monimbo indigenous group. Many are single mothers who provide the sole source of income for their families. A number of clients in Masaya are members of the Monimbo indigenous group.
Elizabeth García Callejas: storeowner
Villlage Banking groups: 1,919
Percent women: 77%
Average loan: $521
Loans outstanding: $12,900,724
On-time repayment: 99.1%
Services: Village Banking and individual credit, micro-insurance
Geography: A Central American country, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, Nicaragua is between Costa Rica and Honduras. It is slightly smaller than the state of New York.
Population: 5.6 million
Ethnicities: Mestizo (mixed Amerindian + white) 69%, white 17%, black 9%, Amerindian 5%
Religions: Roman Catholic 72.9%, Evangelical 15.1%, other 3.5%, none 8.5%
Average life expectancy:
Median age: 20.9 years
Literacy: 67.5 percent—one of the lowest rates in the world
* Program information is updated on a monthly basis from reports from the field.