Two-thousand fourteen has been a big year for Ocotal, the mountain community outside of El Sauce’s center. In addition to joining theColonial and Volcanic tourism route, having a renovated road, and building cabins for guests to stay in, the cooperatives that are supporting development in the community have again exported their products to partners in the United States. With the help of Enlace Project’s Entrepreneurial Development Program (EDP), both Fuente de Pino and the Manuel Lopez Coffee Cooperative have brought additional income to their families, along with some new opportunities.
Fuente de Pino has been working to create a variety of hand-made products out of fallen pine needles that they find in their community. This year they have exported over 125 baskets to stores across upstate New York, and more to individual supporters, such as Rob Sanford and Colleen Dunham. The women that run the cooperative also made sales to students from the four summer study abroad trips and other volunteer trips. Currently, Enrique Corrales and Conrad Wright of EDP are working with the cooperative to establish a financial state, a savings account, and to pass through the legalization process.
The Manuel López Coffee Cooperative exported 9,000 pounds of coffee to the United States this year, despite a severe drought in the country. Java Joe, a well-known coffee roaster and distributer in Rochester, New York, is the main client. Additionally, the coffee is now sold on the campus of SUNY Geneseo (through Java Joe and Campus Auxiliary Services [CAS]), Union Place Coffee Roasters, and Utica Coffee Roasting Company. The cooperative is hoping that these and potentially other businesses will increase their purchase amount in the future.
The Entrepreneurial Development Program has also come into contact with Serafyn Sachels, lead by John and Beverly Serafini, who hope to convert burlap coffee bags, used by the cooperatives to transport coffee, into fashionable bags to be sold in the United States. The couple visited El Sauce in July 2014 to meet the women of Fuente de Pino and show them how to make the bags. This could provide another source of income for the Ocotal community to continue its development in the coming year.
The Entrepreneurial Development Program (EDP) began in June 2014 in order to centralize the services that Enlace Project can provide to cooperatives and small businesses. Their hope is to ensure that the individuals that they work with can learn to be self-sustaining. Keep on the lookout for more updates!