Last updated June 14, 2013

Partner Description:

 

Founded in 2006 by former Peace Corps volunteers, Planting Empowerment works with indigenous communities and smallholder farmers in Panama to sustainably grow high-value trees and food crops. To empower these populations, the organization works through a more inclusive land lease model, provides employment opportunities and technical agroforestry training to some community members, and shares harvest profits with its partner communities.

As a for-profit social enterprise, Planting Empowerment has three goals: 1) maximize financial returns from tropical timber and farming operations, 2) empower local communities to manage their natural resources more effectively, and 3) combat deforestation in Panama with sustainable forestry practices.

Traditionally, communities in this region have relied on cattle ranching and slash-and-burn agriculture for survival. After witnessing the environmental and economic consequences of this approach, the founders of Planting Empowerment began working with communities to create another approach — one that meets economic needs in an environmentally sustainable way. This directive shaped the organization’s training and financing programs.

Planting Empowerment does not require communities to invest financially in the switch to agroforestry. Instead, the communities lease parts of their land and provide their labor to plant and maintain the trees and crops. This enables the organization to reach poor communities that lack the upfront capital and technical expertise to undertake large-scale agroforestry projects. This also makes finding financing the organization’s biggest challenge.

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A unique approach to lending:


Planting Empowerment is partnering with Kiva to offer in-kind loans to indigenous communities for tropical timber and plantain projects. Kiva funding will enable the company to scale its operations and work with more local partners to establish sustainable farming practices.

Profits generated by harvests of tree and plantain crops are shared by both growers and Planting Empowerment to ensure that both parties have a stake in projects’ success. Community members are involved in every phase, from land selection to contract negotiation to project management. The goal is to equip them with the resources and skills they need to continue farming sustainably on their own.

Planting Empowerment offers two types of loans to farmers through Kiva:

1) Timber loans: These loans cover all the costs needed to help communities establish their own tropical timber projects, including seedlings of several different tree species, plantation administration, labor and other inputs. Communities will intercrop plantains with the trees to generate short-term income as the trees grow to harvestable size. This type of loan is repaid by proceeds from plantain and timber harvests.

2) Plantain intercropping loans: These loans pay for the planting of plantains, enabling communities to grow them while also growing timber to generate short-term income as hardwood trees mature. Kiva loans cover the initial costs and are repaid with harvest revenue.

Planting Empowerment estimates that farming trees and plantains could generate $245 per hectare per year, compared to $150 per year growing corn on that same plot, or $200 a year raising cattle. This could make a huge difference for rural indigenous communities in Panama that communally own large tracts of unused, deforested land, but exhibit poverty rates nearly three times the national average.

Image courtesy of Planting Empowerment.



Kiva HelpRepayment Performance on Kiva

    This Field Partner All Kiva Partners
  Start Date On Kiva Jun 23, 2013 Oct 12, 2005
Total Loans $18,000 $538,432,075
Amount of Raised Inactive Loans $0 $319,600
Number Of Raised Inactive Loans 0 243
Amount of Paying Back Loans $18,000 $110,295,425
Number Of Paying Back Loans 2 113,938
Amount of Ended Loans $0 $427,817,050
Number Of Ended Loans 0 549,600
Delinquency Rate 0.00% 3.35%
Amount In Arrears $0 $2,392,132
Outstanding Portfolio $18,000 $71,413,577
Number of Loans Delinquent 0 10,630
Default Rate 0.00% 1.01%
Amount of Ended Loans Defaulted $0 $4,334,868
Amount of Ended Loans $0 $427,817,050
Number Of Ended Loans Defaulted 0 14,050
Currency Exchange Loss Rate 0.00% 0.06%
Amount of Currency Exchange Loss $0 $298,028
Refund Rate 0.00% 0.82%
Amount of Refunded Loans $0 $4,417,000
Number Of Refunded Loans 0 4,864

Kiva HelpLoan Characteristics On Kiva

    This Field Partner All Kiva Partners
  Loans To Women Entrepreneurs 0.00% 74.09%
Average Loan Size $9,000 $417
Average Individual Loan Size $9,000 $656
Average Group Loan Size $0 $1,813
Average Number Of Entrepreneurs Per Group 0 8
Average GDP Per Capita (PPP) in Local Country $0 $3,463
Average Loan Size / GDP Per Capita (PPP) 0.00% 12.05%
Average Time To Fund A Loan 1.12 days 5.29 days
Average Dollars Raised Per Day Per Loan $8,034.97 $78.96
  Average Loan Term 39 months 10.05 months

Kiva HelpJournaling Performance on Kiva

    This Field Partner All Kiva Partners
  Total Journals 3 268,567
  Journaling Rate 0.00% 42.09%
  Average Number Of Comments Per Journal 0.00 0.09
  Average Number Of Recommendations Per Journal 0.00 2.06

Kiva HelpBorrowing Cost Comparison (based on 2009 data)

    This Field Partner Median for MFI Peers in Country All Kiva Partners
  Portfolio Yield N/A N/A 34.93%
  Profitability (Return on Assets) N/A N/A -1.11%
  Average Loan Size (% of Per Capita Income) N/A 12.30% 42.70%

Kiva HelpCountry Fast Facts

Field Partner Staff

Damion Croston
Matt Johnson
Chris Meyer
Andrew Parrucci