The SosteNica Staff

Meet Jay Pressman, Alan Wright, and Chris Bell,  the staff of SosteNica, the micro-loans non-profit that I am currently interning with in West Chester, PA. They are cheerily preparing me for ten months in Nicaragua, where I will be working with their partner bank, CEPRODEL, and at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua in Leon.

In this cozy office I have been working to recruit new institutional investors for SosteNica.  SosteNica works by sending money down to their partner bank, where it is loaned out to individual families in the Leon region of Nicaragua.  All the loans, rural or urban, have a strict environmental component, and the farmers who apply for loans receive advice from trained sustainable agricultural specialists (that’s part of what I get to be a part of starting next week!).  The Nicaraguans pay interest on their loans, and that interest is shuffled back up to our American investors, who reap the double benefit of having a safe investment and helping families in the second poorest country in Latin America while educating them about sustainable environmental business practices.  No wonder micro-loans have become so popular….

It’s strange how connections overlap and that a random suburb of Philadelphia can have so many things to offer me. I have been staying alternately with my mother’s cousin Connie, and my friend Morgan, who worked with me last year at the Food Bank Farm.  His parents live a little less than a mile from the SosteNica office, through some paths and wooden bridges in the woods.  Alan, the president of SosteNica, has been treating me to many yoga classes, good meals, and wonderful walks and talks with his dogs in the fields.  In general, I’m spoiled here.

I actually met Alan, the President and founder of Sostenica, fifteen years ago at a family summer camp run by the Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS). Our families spent several summers contra dancing together, and I got to know his children, who are a few years younger than me. He has kept in touch via this micro loans project, and now my interests line up with one of his life projects.  Alot of the credit for the Fulbright project I am about to embark on goes to Alan – he has been extremely generous in giving me contacts in Nicaragua, making calls and writing letters in my behalf, and in general being my number one supporter.