Fundación Paraguaya is a self-sustainable, non-governmental organization. Since its foundation in 1985, it has spearheaded microfinance and entrepreneurship in Paraguay.
With more than 450 staff in 28 offices across the country, Fundación Paraguaya develops and implements practical, innovative, and sustainable solutions to eliminate poverty in order to create decent conditions for all families using four inter-related strategies:
- A microcredit program, which serves more than 86.000 small and emerging micro-entrepreneurs who are largely ignored by other microfinance institutions;
- A program of entrepreneurial and financial education for children and youth;
- A program of financially self-sustainable farming high-schools that train the sons and daughters of poor farmers to become their own “rural entrepreneurs;”
- TeachAManToFish, a separate NGO established in London that helps spreading the Fundación’s financially self-sufficient school model around the world.
The educational model we propose undertakes a different path in the struggle to eradicate poverty. We work with poor rural communities to transform their youth into rural entrepreneurs.
In addition to high quality education, self-sustainable productive business units, which cover 1005 of the School’s operating costs, are incorporated. This model uses the “Learn by Doing, Selling and Earning” methodology that has a curriculum based on theory classes complemented by hands-on field practice.
With this innovative approach we seek to make a difference, and above all ensure that more youth at risk acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to begin their own rural enterprises, access a decent job in the agriculture/livestock sector or continue studying. Moreover, it is a school model that can be replicated anywhere in the world thanks to its social franchise based on entrepreneurship.
We are using our microfinance program to eliminate the poverty that affects the families of our more than 86,000 clients, from rural and urban areas. 87% of these clients are women. To do so, we have developed a practical methodology which, as a first step, allows poor families to self-diagnose their own poverty, and then permits to develop personalized strategies that help families to permanently pull themselves out of poverty. We call it the “Poverty Stoplight” approach created to eliminate multidimensional poverty.
This methodology makes poverty “visible” by dividing the model into 6 dimensions and 50 indicators, so that a poor person can visualize the ways in which poverty affects their own family. As the name suggests, our tool uses stoplight colors: Red (for Extremely Poor), Yellow (for Poor), Green (for Not Poor), as well as photographs, maps, tablets, and a visual survey to create innovative plans that enable the poor communities to better understand and visualize the ways in which they are affected by poverty.
Working with Hewlett Packard (HP), we have developed a 20-minute visual survey that uses photos to simplifies the gathering of data on poor families while encouraging them to focus on filling a much-needed gap.
We compete in the microfinance industry, however, unlike other microfinance entities, which only offer “financial inclusion”, our value proposition is – like Aladin- to unleash the “genie” within each family by giving them the tools and motivation to overcome their poverty. We are not seeking to alleviate, reduce or combat poverty; we plan to eliminate it! This innovative strategy makes us different.
We measure our impact by the number of families that overcome poverty every year thanks to our project. For example, in the last 3 years, we have enabled 16,000 families to overcome poverty with respect to their level of income, but what we really want is for microfinance institutions all over the world to adopt the Poverty Stoplight methodology. Latin America count up to more than 11 million clients of microfinance institutions. Therefore, we are working to create a better awareness and understanding of this methodology, so the microfinance institutions can adopt it and empower millions of families to overcome poverty all over the world.