Fundacion Integral Campesina de Costa Rica
Fundacion Integral Campesina de Costa Rica (FINCA Costa Rica) promotes the development of rural communities through the formation and consolidation of beneficiary-managed "Credit Enterprises". FINCA Costa Rica believes all communities--most especially those comprised of low-income households--should have the opportunity to establish business credit as a financial engine for development by promoting financially-viable, environmentally-sound, and socially-equitable small businesses.
FINCA Costa Rica is a micro-business support organization established in 1983 to help low-income individuals pool their savings, invest the capital in their own micro-businesses, and become the owners of their own micro-finance enterprises achieving financial autonomy through the development and implementation of microfinance methodology. To achieve this objective FINCA Costa Rica has designed a proprietary training process involving "credit enterprise" workshops within the community. Training focuses on community context, local regulations, credit management, and accounting and organizational change. To further assist this process, FINCA Costa Rica has served as a channel for additional external donated or loaned capital.
Beginnng in 2005 and going through early 2013, Bikes for the World has provided over 14,000 bicycles, or nearly 20 percent of our shipments, making FINCA Costa Rica our second-largest recipient of assistance. The bikes donated to FINCA are distibuted to community investment associations comprised of farmers, tradespeople, and other "micro entrepreneurs" in rural areas of this Central American nation, where they are reconditioned, sold at modest prices, and any surplus reinvested in the community -owned "credit enterprise for re-investment locally.
Our bicycles provide an additional source of capital to participating credit enterprises and, in addition, generate additional local employment through allowing members of individual groups to recondition the bicycles, earning a fair wage, and with each group selling bikes locally, providing affordable production-oriented transportation to enterprise members and others in the community, with any profit retained by the collective and reinvested in members' businesses, enabling them to grow their individual income-generating operations.
The bicycle program has become a favorite activity of the FINCA Costa Rica network. Many groups have received multiple shipments and demand has outstripped supply--despite the large numbers delivered to date and the fact that Bikes for the World charges for all direct and a portion of indirect shipping expenses. This is even more noteworthy considering that FINCA Costa Rica was and continues to be a financial institution, specializing in handling money rather than logistics.
In addition to helping FINCA Costa Rica and its member community groups fulfill their collective missions, the bikes sold at a low cost to community members help individual families become more productive in their businesses and every-day lives, moving product, and themselves, faster. Hear Keith Oberg, Director of Bikes for the World, describe this program in full in this video.
Aura lives in poverty in a crime-plagued neighborhood. Despite losing her father recently, Aura excels in school and works hard to help her mother care for her four siblings.
Aura's bike allows her to go to the farm to collect lychee fruit for the family and she will use her bike to travel to high school next year. Despite facing big challenges, Aura has big dreams and hopes to be an accountant.
Marco Vinicio sells ice cream and frituras—fried snacks—in the Costa Rican capital, San José. For years, “don Marco,” as he is known, traveled on foot from construction sites to offices to small shopping malls in a small section of the city. On any day, he could cover only a few sites and rarely sold more than a large bag of fried items and a few ice pops, generating the barest living for his wife and seven children.
Ronald Guzman lives in Bahia Ballena Osa. He is a nature guide and outdoor photographer and thanks to a shipment of bikes from BfW now a bike rental owner.
Guzman says this business is a way for his family to make money investing not much money but getting plenty back. He cites that mostly the community is using the bikes but expanding to include more tourists is a priority. America.gov interviewed Guzman about his tour business in 2009.
Video produced by America.gov tracing the steps of donated bikes to Costa Rica.