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;” This includes, TeachAManToFish, a separate NGO established in London that helps spreading the Fundación’s financially self-sufficient school model around the world.
- The poverty Stoplight, a metric and methodology, transversally used in all programs.
The educational model through Financially Self-Sustainable Schools is an innovative secondary school model provides students from poor, rural areas with academic, vocational, and entrepreneurial education.
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 they 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.
Fundacion Paraguaya is using its microfinance program to eliminate the poverty that affects the families of its more than 86,000 clients, from rural and urban areas. 87% of these clients are women. To do so, they have developed a practical methodology, which, as a first step, allows poor families to self-diagnose their own poverty, and then permits to develop personalised strategies that help families to permanently pull themselves out of poverty. The tool is called 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 colours: 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), the Poverty Stoplight has turned into a 20-minute visual survey that uses photos to simplify 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 – to unleash the potential within each family by giving them the tools and motivation to overcome their poverty. Though, the organisation is not seeking to alleviate, reduce or combat poverty; but to eliminate it! This innovative strategy makes Fundacion Paraguaya different and has them 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.
Trans4m and Fundación Paraguaya cooperate since 2016. In 2016, Trans4m Junior Fellow Nora Wilhelm went to Paraguay, to co-create with two of the schools of Fundación Paraguaya an Integral Education Model – with a view to strengthen the school’s educational model. Nora was actively supported by a group of students from the University of St. Gallen, participating in the Integral Development course.