International Case Study

CHRISTIAN AID

Thanks to the support of CAF Private Clients, Christian Aid's innovation fund "In Their Lifetime" has helped farmers in Nicaragua to capitalise on an untapped market opportunity - growing hibiscus.

Start a conversation with us today

HELPING FARMERS IN NEED TO GROW HIBISCUS SALES IN NICARAGUA

Thanks to the generosity of our clients, funds donated through CAF can be used to help support charities and transform lives across the world.

An example of how CAF Private Client funds can be used to help people in need is Christian Aid's pioneering innovation fund called “In Their Lifetime” (ITL). Founded in 1945, Christian Aid is the largest international development charity in Britain to work exclusively through locally based partner organisations. They work for and with people of all faiths and none, to ensure that poor and marginalised people have the security, livelihoods, and rights they need to live life to the full.

The ITL fund enables Christian Aid to try out new approaches to fighting poverty and scale up the ideas that work best. The entire ITL programme is delivered by local organisations embedded in the communities they serve. ITL is building particular expertise in empowering poor producers to improve and process their goods and trade directly with distributors and customers, bypassing exploitative middlemen.

CASE STUDY

Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. In the countryside, 90% of the population work on small, family-run farms. With no means to reach markets themselves, poor producers often have to sell their produce for low prices at the farm gate.

Farmers usually struggle to make enough money for basic needs due to the low prices of the crops they produce and increasing impacts of climate change. Until the mid 2000’s, hibiscus was rarely grown in Nicaragua, but it was identified as a potential crop to fuel economic growth due to huge market demand from overseas countries and reasonable prices. Additionally, the crop is hardy and can withstand many of the climatic changes that destroy other crops.

In order to thrive, small producers of hibiscus need to produce to consistently high standards and have access to markets on favourable terms. The project focus was therefore twofold:

  • Increasing the productive capacity of hibiscus
  • Create access to markets

Christian Aid’s partner NGO Nochari, established a cooperative to empower small-scale farmers to grow and commercialise hibiscus flowers. In 2011, the cooperative received a combination of grant and loan funding through ITL to expand production through access to training, credit and specialist tools.

Farmers loading hibiscus into white van
A new lorry has reduced transport costs by over 70% per distribution trip, and also ensures that the product stays dry when it rains. 

Photo Credit: Christian Aid/Paula Plaza.

HOW THE FUNDING HELPED

In the first year of funding, the cooperative saw a 51% increase in sales, and the following year they signed a contract with Walmart to supply hibiscus juice across Central America. Before the project started, the average household income of the targeted producers was only $876 a year. Growth of the cooperative has meant a boost on average of an additional $1,000 a year per family. The cooperative also generates more than 10,000 direct and indirect seasonal jobs.

In 2016, ITL funding was phased out as the enterprise is now a profitable, fully independent business with a consolidated market and an international distribution network. Due to the success of the project, Christian Aid secured a grant of $2.3million to expand and develop inclusive markets work further in Central America.

This level of impact and scalability would not have been possible without the generosity of CAF’s Private Clients. 

“This is an excellent charity to support. Working in some very conflicted and dangerous places, Christian Aid seeks to demonstrate the practical realities of belief in action. This perspective enables them to target aid very effectively in difficult situations - regardless of religion or race - since good relationships and partnerships are made possible with local churches, other local organisations and individuals. We personally like this inclusive approach, since as their excellent publicity says: "everyone should have the opportunity to thrive." This is particularly evident in their current project in the Democratic Republic of Congo which is suffering with nearly 2 million internally displaced people at the moment.”

Mr & Mrs Frith, CAF Private Clients.

Find out more about Christian Aid's "In Their Lifetime".