Nicaragua Microloan Program Under Scrutiny

Posted by Rodrigo Peñalba

Last Sunday on “Esta Semana”, a 60 Minutes-style TV news program in Nicaragua, a report took and in-depth look at Usura Cero (Zero Usury), a goverment-financed program that gives soft loans to women-led microbusinesses.

But Naren Mayorga from ¿Y ahora de que vamos a hablar? [es] summarizes the scope of the program:

Lo poco que se sabe del mismo es que se ofrecen crédito por el rango de C$1,000 a C$5,000 a comerciantes mujeres urbanos bajo la metodología de Grupos solidarios y con tasas de interés subsidiadas que ronda el 4% anual con un périodo de gracia de varia de 2 a 6 meses según el monto prestado y que en su administración participan distintas organizaciones e instituciones del estado.

The little that is known is that loans of C$1,000-C$5,000 Cordobas are given to urban women vendors under the methodology of solidarity groups and with low, subsidized interests rate of about 4% annual with a grace period between 2-6 months according to the amount lent. Different organizations and state institutions are involved in the administration.

This help does not cover the financial needs of the beneficiaries. One beneficiary told Esta Semana she uses around C$10,000-C$15,000 Cordobas in loans, so the goverment help does just cover a part of the a third part of the money.

In addition, the blog signals and points not just the errors made by the TV journalistic crew, but by the goverment and directors of the program.

…En una entrevista que le hicieron a la encargada del Usura Cero en uno de los medios de comunicación afines al gobierno mencionó que el programa era todo un éxito por que se estaba logrando la recuperación de más del 70% de los montos prestados. Para que un programa de este tipo sea viable debe de tener una tasa de recuperación mayor al 90% menos que eso está condenado al fracaso o subsistir mediante la inyección de fondos del erario público o bien mediante préstamos o donaciones de otros países (como es el caso del usura cero).

…In a inverview of the manager of Zero Usury on one of the official government-run media, she said that the program was a complete success because they were making 70% debt recovery. For a program of this kind they must have a debt recovery rate of at least 90% or they will be condemned to failure or have to survive with goverment money or foreign countries donations.

Continue reading here the other 6 arguments of Naren here…