In September 2018, MCE made a $200,000 investment in Sol Organica, a certified B-Corporation in Nicaragua that works to improve the livelihoods of tropical fruit farmers in Nicaragua while maximizing their agricultural potential and promoting the use of sustainable and organic farming practices.
Sol Organica sources, processes, and exports pureed, juiced, and dried tropical fruits grown by smallholder farmers in Nicaragua, working closely with these farmers to improve agricultural practices, secure organic and fair-trade certifications, and enter into fixed contracts that guarantee the purchase of their crops at prevailing market prices. The majority of Sol Organica’s sales come from organic and conventional pitahaya puree. Pitahaya is also known as dragon fruit, a native crop to Nicaragua and commonly grown by many farmers. The business also has products that are processed from mango, banana, pineapple, passion fruit, and cashew. Sol Organica’s products are exported primarily to the United States, as well as Brazil and European markets.
Sol Organica is one of only a few organizations to connect smallholder fruit producers in Nicaragua to export markets, one of even fewer to add value to the fruit before export, and the only one to export organic products. Sol Organica’s model boosts the volume of fruits purchased from smallholder farmers throughout Nicaragua and therefore their incomes; in doing so, the company also increases the amount of money that remains in the local economy.
Sol Organica’s operations positively impact Nicaragua across a number of social, environmental, and economic dimensions. Smallholder farmer families benefit from access to new markets, training and technical assistance, higher productivity, fair and stable prices, and access to financial services. Sol Organica helps its farmers open bank accounts to ensure that payments to them are made quickly and safely. This is the first time that many of these farmers have owned a bank account. As of April 2018, Sol Organica worked with 506 organic smallholder farmer families in Nicaragua and employed 70 people full-time and 200 people part-time.
Sol Organica is MCE’s second Small and Growing Business (SGB) investment in Latin America. MCE’s loan will support the continued growth of the business by increasing its production capacity and allowing Sol Organica to diversify its product line and ultimately reach more smallholder farmers in Nicaragua.