Sustainable Economic Development
Nicaraguans work hard and are creative. When they cannot find a job, they work at stoplights selling water and washing windshields, or they go door-to-door in their neighborhoods selling vegetables for only pennies in profit. Within the economically active population, only 18% are formally employed, which means they are enrolled in the single-payer health care system and social security. Just under half of the workforce is underemployed, which means that jobs are needed.
And they need to have control over their work. In Nicaragua, almost 20% work in industry, many of which are made up of Free Trade Zones. In the Free Trade Zones most workers labor for long hours and little pay, even though Nicaragua continues to legislate pay increases within the Free Trade Zones. The foreign owners make huge profits off of their workers’ labor, and those profits leave the country.
For Nicaragua to become a healthy nation for its people, it needs revenue that stays in Nicaragua. Free Trade Zones do not provide this. Right up the road from the CDCA offices a denim plant opened, staying in operation for only eight months. Its construction burdened Nicaragua with $111 million of debt for the infra-structure needed for the plant’s start-up. It was intended as a huge source of employment for people in Ciudad Sandino, but instead was a huge waste of funds for a poverty laden nation.
Nicaraguans are hard workers but they do not have access to capital. To help bridge that gap, we have a fund that makes low interest loans to co-ops and small businesses, called the Vida Fund.
If you want to help, please contact us.