Stable economic growth over the last several years has helped reduce poverty in Nicaragua, though it remains one of the poorest countries in the region. Basic services — including sanitation, drinking water, commerce and banking services — are lacking, especially outside of major towns.
Founded in 1992, FINCA Nicaragua is one of the network's oldest subsidiaries. Today it offers a wide range of credit products for micro-businesses, small-scale enterprises, farms and farm-related businesses.
Nicaragua: Reaching the Financially Excluded
Nicaragua has one of the highest rates of financial exclusion in the world; nearly 3 out of 4 adults lack a basic bank account. Given the overall scarcity of financial services throughout the country, it is not surprising that FINCA's outreach is mainly concentrated in urban areas.
FINCA Nicaragua exemplifies FINCA's outreach to women, which is a hallmark of this region. Women make up 3 out of 4 borrowers, most of whom are the main source of income in their families. Like its neighbor, Honduras, FINCA Nicaragua also has a very high concentration of single mothers (see Women's Empowerment below), who comprise almost a quarter of all customers.
Nicaragua: Quality of Life
The basic living standards of our clients in Nicaragua are similar those found in neighboring countries, except in a few respects. Our Nicaraguan borrowers have an uncommonly high rate of home ownership (97 percent), which is the most outside of Eurasia. Also, access to electricity is also much more common, reflecting the urban nature of our current client base. The lack of clean water, however, is a problem for 16 percent of borrowers, which is close to the regional average.
Unfortunately, educational achievement is low among family breadwinners. Over half of them have a primary education or less. The situation is a little bit better in Nicaragua than in the region overall, reflecting sustained national efforts to raise educational levels. But it still leaves nearly half of our clients with very limited means to earn an income and to make lasting improvements in their family's quality of life.
Income & Employment
Nicaragua: Income & Employment
Nicaragua: Empowering Women
FINCA has a very high concentration of female clients in Nicaragua, most of whom are the primary breadwinners in their households, including many single monthers. This places enormous responsibilities on the shoulders of our clients and makes their path out of poverty more challenging.
Women are fully engaged in running their businesses as independent entrepreneurs. They run 68 percent of all businesses and are responsible for over half of the total job creation.
Nicaragua: Attaining Business and Personal Goals
FINCA's borrowers in Nicaragua have diverse aspirations. Just under half are either expanding or starting a business. Twenty-three percent are using FINCA's support to fix-up their homes, which is consistent with the unusually high rate of home ownership in this country. Others are paying down other debts or purchasing home assets.