Help individuals affected by the violence in Colombia to get back on their feet economically.
Strengthen grassroots organizations that are working effectively to help marginalized populations.
Follows development model used in Peace Corps training
The Colombia Project differs significantly from other micro-credit programs by following the development model used in Peace Corps training: “empowering people and strengthening organizations through asset-based approaches.”
The Colombia Project identifies grassroots organizations that are already working effectively in marginalized communities, then partners with them to strengthen their program. Funding for micro-loans enables local partners to economically empower their clients, adding a valuable tool to their development toolbox.
The Colombia Project provides incentives for successful implementation but allows local partners to define the structure that works best for them and their community. “The Peace Corps and many other development organizations have come to realize that organizational development results are greater and longer lasting when the individuals involved with the organization (stakeholders) become active participants in a positive change process.” (An NGO Training Guide for Peace Corps Volunteers - page 38, online at Peacecorps.gov).
This development-micro-loan model yields dual benefits by minimizing administrative costs and encouraging innovative local solutions to local challenges. Cartagena’s communal banks and Santa Marta’s satellite loan programs derived from local initiatives. .
Builds a locally sustainable loan program
The 2nd key difference is that The Colombia Project builds a sustainable loan pool to serve the community in perpetuity. Repayments on loans remain in the local community rather than returning to the funding entity. 50% of repayments go to a revolving loan pool. The grassroots organizations keep up to 50% of repayments of principal on the initial round of loans to cover administrative costs. Once the loan pool is sufficient to meet the community’s microloan needs, no additional outside funds are needed. The grassroots organization then uses the loan interest to cover program costs and The Colombia Project moves on to assist other communities.
By incorporating loans funded by The Colombia Project loans into existing development programs, loan recipients gain access to the grassroots organizations’ broad range of support services for a multi-pronged attack on poverty. The MINICOL loan recipients in Genova, Villa Maria-Manizales, and Concordia receive literacy, nutrition, and job training support while many of their children receive academic scholarships. In Santa Marta, FUNDEHUMAC’s loan recipients participate in a variety of educational, job training, motivational, team-building and nutrition programs for youth and adults. APRODEFA-Cartagena provides intensive team-building and training before loans are disbursed, with a resultant 98% repayment rate for their loans.
Helping Colombians Rebuild Their Lives
Jorge and Alex are studying business at the university, thanks to scholarships provided by The Magdalena Foundation. With the help of a Colombia Project loan, they set up a small bike shop on the outskirts of Santa Marta where they are applying skills learned in the university and generating a small income to support themselves as well as Alex’s grandmother. The FUNDEHUMAC support network of lawyers, business experts and social workers helps them to overcome any obstacles they encounter to ensure that their studies and their business are successful.
Based on its successes with The Colombia Project, FUNDEHUMAC in Magdalena was awarded $14 million pesos ($6500 US) by the local government to set up a similar loan program specifically for women-heads of household. .
In an e-mail dated June 29,2006 Alba Lucia Moreno, head of FUNDEHUMAC, wrote:
...this model [The Colombia Project] is unique and thanks to you that were the pioneers and an example for the local government showing that women can rise out of misery giving dignity to their family unit and have a positive effect on others around them. Thank you for having faith in us. This is the best testimony of your great heart. You have left an imprint in the local administration of a city where everything gets stolen. Now the mayor says with pride, ‘finally we are demonstrating that with the help of an international community (The Colombia Project) and FUNDEHUMAC we can do things for our poor people".
ODRI, in Popayan, has also received outside support based on its track record with The Colombia Project.
Those who have successfully repaid their loans serve as role models and mentors to new loan recipients. ODRI in Cauca provides technical support and marketing expertise to ensure that the loan recipients are successful in their enterprises.
The Colombia Project has grown steadily over the years with five new sites added in 2010 and 2011: Ariguani/El Dificil, Magdalena; Obando, Cauca and Puerto Tejada, Cauca in 2010 and La Victoria, Valle and Aguadas, Caldas in 2011. To sustain this growth, and to ensure that there are adequate resources to meet the needs identified by our partner communities, The Colombia Project is looking for opportunities for matching funds, grants and corporate sponsorship.
Thanks to two grants from the AMB Foundation of Phoenix, Arizona, a successful indigenous weavers’ project was expanded to provide training and income-earning opportunities for displaced indigenous families in Santa Marta and to prevent displacement for families in the Guajira.
A $4000 grant from the Rotary Club of Coconut Grove (Miami, Florida) provided funding in mid 2011 to open a micro-loan program in our 12th site. The Colombia Project welcomes additional collaboration with Rotary clubs both in the U.S and abroad.
To make a gift donation, please send your check, payable to RPCVSF along with the name and mailing address, or email address of the person to whom the gift card should be sent. If the gift is in memory of someone, please note that name as well. Please send to RPCVSF, PO Box 311044, Miami, Florida 33231-1044. A card will be sent within 10 days. Since RPCVSF has 501(c)3 status, all donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.