Bicycles.....and mortgages?

Bicicletas... ¿e hipotecas?A combination of bicycles and mortgages? Yes, they do have something in common. These are the focuses of a social enterprise in Nicaragua that seeks to satisfy some of the basic needs of people, housing and transport.

Direct contact with the people
Both programs maintain direct contact with the population. People enter the doors of EcoTec S.A. like an overflowing river when a container of bicycles arrives, and a constant flow is maintained with the payment of the mortgages.

regina_andino_sofonic Regina Andino Chong is at the head of this complexity, a responsibility that she assumed five years ago. At that time, everything was done by hand and when someone lost their receipt and needed a confirmation of purchase, it was necessary to look through all the paperwork. Thus, Regina learned about computers and asked someone to design a program to control the bicycle receipts. At the same time, she began to look for all the receipts from the beginning and now has an ample and up-to-date archive.

An affordable dream
Since 1997, 26 containers of recycled bicycles from Pedals for Progress in the U.S.A have arrived, each with 500 bicycles. That is some 13,000 bicycles. In this way it has been possible to provide people with an ecological and economical means of transportation. Bicycles are an "affordable dream."

bicicletas_overoles_001 When a container arrives, Regina and her assistant Emma Campos work day and night with their team. Just before Christmas of 2007 a container arrived that they had to unpack at customs in Managua, count the bicycles and afterward repack them in the container for the journey to Jinotepe. The container arrived late on Friday afternoon and, besides the experienced team of people from the neighborhood and bicycle mechanics, some of the employees of SofoNic social project and EcoTec administrative personnel participated in unloading the bicycles.

So close to Christmas, the children´s bicycles caught the attention of many parents watching the unloading, and thinking of Christmas presents for their little tykes. On Monday when sale opened to the public, many children arrived with their parents in tow.

Affordable Housing

The "Affordable Housing" program is the path devised to ensure a continual process that can help reduce the housing deficit. EcoTec has three basic designs, while the innovative mortgage system guarantees a rapid turnover of the funds.

"People pay their mortgages regularly. There is a good payment moral, very few people are behind," said Regina. The manager explained that in these cases they contact them to find out why, or the people themselves come to explain the reason. "We try to animate them to pay at least a small quota during the difficult period," said Regina. "We explain the importance of complying, because in this way we keep the fund alive, which allows other families to also obtain a house." There is a waiting list of more than 70 people!



You are here: Home Past editions Edition 30 - April 2008 Bicycles.....and mortgages?


Javier GilJavier Gil
Topography Engineer, Spain
Spanish, english, french
Project management, construction, budgeting, training


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