Please tell us more about how partnerships could be critical to the success of your innovation.
Partnerships are a critical piece of how Agros empowers families to have a sustainable solution to poverty, as they provide additional elements of support, leverage the resources Agros can provide, and offer long-term sustainability to the villagers after Agros ends direct support.
NGO partnerships—such as an emerging partnership with PATH—provide families with additional health and technical assistance trainings.
From the beginning, the villagers will be connected to their municipal and national government to ensure legal recognition of the village. To facilitate, Agros in-country staff give presentations to government officials on Agros’ development model. Staff continue to facilitate government partnership through village education workshops, such as proposal writing for infrastructure like roads, schools or clinics.
Business partnerships have formed in other villages for marketing and production contracts; in Matagalpa, we will create region-wide impact by pursuing business partnerships and contracts for Tabasco chilies and coffee produced by the Agros villagers.
We would like to learn more about how your initiative is financially supported. Please explain your business plan/revenue model
Agros International, a nonprofit organization, is privately funded through a mixed revenue model of individual, foundation, and business support. Currently, the majority of financial support is through individuals that commit five year pledges in support of a village. Pledge revenue provides continuity for the growth of a new village. Forty percent of funds raised support land purchases and enterprise loans for agricultural production; as participants repay their long-term land loans and enterprise loans, these funds are recycled to support new land purchases and enterprise loans.
Agros has a dedicated fund for land purchase called the Noemi Fund, innovative because the repayments of the formerly poor actually fund the purchase of land for other rural poor families, completing a cycle of dignity and empowerment. For the Matagalpa village, the total land purchase was $829,500 USD.
This project in Matagalpa has full funding committed to its success.
An immediate, critical step in supporting families once they are on the land is to provide education and leadership development, so that each man and woman has the tools to advocate on their own behalf for their rights, and is empowered to succeed. As Agros begins community organization (and continuing through the first years of village development), staff train families to negotiate with municipal government; and facilitate workshops on community organization to establish a strong, healthy village leadership structure, encourage equal gender participation, and conduct progress evaluations of annual development plans that villages create for themselves. For the Matagalpa village, the total cost for the first three years of this community organization, education and training program is $26,250 USD; if Agros is nominated as a winner for the Changemakers competition, the award money would provide this training for two new large villages already planned.