Nicaraguan Credit Alternatives Fund (NICA Fund)

The Nicaraguan Credit Alternatives Fund (NICA Fund) addresses a root cause of poverty and social injustice by providing financing for economic activities of low-income Nicaraguans with little access to commercial credit.

The NICA Fund operates by channeling funds from socially responsible North American investors to Nicaraguan nongovernmental organizations (partner agencies) that specialize in providing credit to marginalized sectors. These are self-sustaining, non-profit microfinance institutions with years of experience lending to the poor.

NICA Fund flow chart
 

Like the roots of a coffee plant, individual investors send resources to the NICA Fund. The NICA Fund works as the trunk of the plant, channeling resources from its roots, the investors, to its fruit, the productive enterprises of low-income borrowers. The NICA Fund partners with a variety of Nicaraguan organizations which serve as branches for administering microloans to thousands of individual Nicaraguans.


The Importance of Microcredit in Nicaragua

Although rich in culture and intellect, Nicaragua is economically impoverished. According to the UN Human Development Report, nearly 80% of the Nicaraguan population lives on less than $2 per day. Under such circumstances, families often rely on agriculture or resort to informal activities such as street vending to earn a living. To succeed, they need capital to buy inputs and supplies, but the disadvantaged have little or no access to commercial banks.

During the 1980s, Nicaragua's state banking system emphasized making low-cost credit available to the majority of the population. At that time, 63% of long-term credit went to small producers and coops.

This changed dramatically, however, with the privitization of the banking system, which began in 1990. Structural adjustment programs, initiated by the World Bank and IMF, imposed policies that completely restructured the national banking system. Only large industries and agribusiness producers of non-traditional crops for export qualified for credit thus leaving small business owners and producers of consumption crops (i.e. rice and bean farmers) with no access to loans or banking services. For example, banks currently serve approximately 8,000 rural borrowers with a portfolio of $168 million, while microfinance institutions are lending approximately $40 million to 40,758 rural producers.

The NICA Fund as an Alternative Economic Development Model

Microcredit provided through the NICA Fund allows Nicaraguans the opportunity to equitably participate in their own economic decision-making. Additionally, with guidance from WCCN's Loan Fund Oversight Committee, the NICA Fund enables socially responsible North Americans to address the economic needs of the Nicaraguan majority by investing and/or donating funds to support business enterprises owned and operated by low-income Nicaraguans. Currently, WCCN is providing more than $6.4 million in financing to our 14 Nicaraguan partner agencies, which operate loan programs in Nicaragua with socially responsible mandates that complement the NICA Fund's mission.

Who Benefits?

An investment in the NICA Fund serves many purposes. First, it responds to the very high demand for credit in Nicaragua. Also, it offers loans to low-income borrowers who cannot obtain credit from conventional sources. Finally, it enables you to become an active partner in the process of community-based economic development in Nicaragua.

Loans to farmers, cooperatives and small businesses benefit whole communities as funds revolve at the local level. A farmer, cooperative or small business that receives a loan buys goods and services and employs other people, furthering the community benefits of the loan.

Thus even a small investment can have a tremendous impact. Your loan can generate employment and allow Nicaraguans to feed their families and contribute to their communities.

Your investment makes you a partner and participant in international economic development. The people of Nicaragua are not asking for charity - just the opportunity to produce and earn a fair wage.

Get Involved—Become an Investor!

The NICA Fund has nearly 400 investors throughout North America. About 85% of these investors are individuals; churches, local activist organizations and small foundations make up the remaining 15%. This is a diverse range of persons; what they share in common is a commitment to socially responsible investment and just economic development.

Our investors lend anywhere from $2,000 to $300,000. The median investment is $5,000. Here are the parameters for investment:

  • Loan Amount: $2,000 minimum; no maximum
  • Loan Length: 2 to 5 years
  • Interest Rate: Between 0%-6% annual simple interest, depending on the length of time and amount of investment

LOAN AMOUNT

2 – 3 YEARS

4 – 5 YEARS

$2,000 - $7,999

3%

3.5%

$8,000 - $14,999

3.5%

4%

$15,000 - $29,999

4.5%

5%

$30,000 +

5.5%

6%

Interest is paid annually and the maturity is paid in full on the day the investment reaches maturity. In ten years of this work, WCCN has maintained 100% repayment to its investors, always on time. If you would like more information or a prospectus, please contact us at (608) 257-7230 or at wccn@wccnica.org or write to us at WCCN, P.O Box 1534, Madison, WI 53701.

Donations

In addition to investments, donations enable the NICA Fund to expand while maintaining an adequate reserve to protect investors in the event that the fund should experience unexpected financial losses. Donations are fully tax deductible. You can donate now online or via regular mail. To plan a year-end contribution or a planned giving arrangement, contact WCCN at the address below.

For More Information

NOTE: In certain states, promissory notes for the NICA Fund are being offered and may be sold without registration under applicable state securities laws pursuant to exemptions analogous to Section 3(a)(4) of the Act or on the basis of exemptions for offerings to a limited number of persons in such states. This description of WCCN's loan fund program does not constitute an offer nor the solicitation of an offer to sell to any person in any state or other political jurisdiction in which such offer or solicitation may not be lawfully made.