The sweet side of the Somoto Canyon
Out of the only two projects I was able to visit during my journey in Nicaragua (because of the unstable political situation) I got the chance to visit the ”Instituto de Promoción Humana” INPRHU and get to see what they’re doing with the support the European Union is giving them and I was thrilled to see they’re making the most out of it and having a huge impact in Somoto but today I’d like to focus in a cooperative they created called ”Cooperativa Multisectorial de Jóvenes Emprendedores Rurales de Madriz” COMJERUMA.
This cooperative started in 2010 and they already have more than 200 members, most of them young beekeepers. When they started, the cooperative only had masculine members but today 34% of its members are women. I was lucky enough to be greeted by two of them and have a nice conversation about this project and how it’s linked to their lives.
As most of the members, before becoming a member of the cooperative she used to work with bees without knowing much about it. ”We just had an idea and the desire to thrive, but we barely knew about the technical aspect of beekeeping” she said while we talked. And that was actually one of the reasons why INPRHU decided to start this cooperative. They noticed she wasn’t the only one, so they decided to do something about it and after getting a few members together, they started training them in order to teach them how to handle the bees, how to maximize the production and minimize the effort. Also, they taught them how to teach all that new knowledge to the next group of beekeepers and after having a significant group and a high-quality stable production, there was only one thing left to do:
They’ve grown so much that now they have to rent big pieces of land to be able to fit all the hives they work. And with growth comes the opportunity to hire some help and because of their social responsibility they only hire young men and women at risk. Usually what happens after is that those they hire fall in love with beekeeping and then become members of the cooperative which leads to a bigger cooperative and more people improving their lives through a sustainable business.
But it wasn’t flowers and sunshine since day one. The cooperative started only with the minimum they could afford at the time. Something I loved about them is that they remember every day where they came from, and keep around some of the tools they started with as a daily reminder.
And after receiving financial support and equipment from the EU, they’ve been able to improve their techniques and their production, as well as lower their impact on the environment.
Even though they’ve reached a considerable growth these years, they’re always looking to make things better for people and business, so they are expanding their products and brands.
Overall, this cooperative showed me what can happen when a group of determined, hard-working people receive the right support and the right tools. They thrive.