Planting Empowerment and Kiva Launch First Loan in Panama, Supports Indigenous Communities

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The Kiva loan will fund the cultivation of four hectares of plantains, a staple food crop.

Starting at $25, you can support indigenous empowerment and get your money back when the community repays the loan.

Planting Empowerment, an agroforestry company working with indigenous communities and smallholders in Panamá, announced today that they posted their first loan to the Kiva website. The loan is also the first posted to Kiva that supports a Panamanian community.

"It’s a great opportunity for Panamanians to support indigenous communities in an environmentally sustainable way," said Daniel Arias, whose company Canopy Tower Family runs an eco-lodge near Planting Empowerment’s operations in the Darién province. "Starting at $25, you can support indigenous empowerment and get your money back when the community repays the loan. It’s also exciting that this is the first Panamá loan on Kiva!"

Kiva acts as a bridge between responsible lenders and projects that need financing. Founded in 2005, Kiva has facilitated more than $400 million in loans from more than 900,000 lenders for projects in 68 countries. Panamá will be number 69.

Kiva lenders can contribute to the $8,000 loan pool, which will enable an indigenous Embera and Wounaan village in the Darién province to plant four hectares of plantains, a staple food crop. The loan will cover the costs for seed stock, fertilizer, tools, labor, maintenance, and harvesting costs for the plantain project. Kiva lenders can expect repayment based on profits from the plantain sales.

The indigenous community, called Arimae, has been partnering with Planting Empowerment for the past six years to increase returns from their land in an economically and environmentally sustainable way. Planting Empowerment works with local communities to manage agricultural and timber projects, which provide an alternative to the traditional approach of slash and burn agriculture and cattle ranching.

Damion Croston, one of the co-founders of Planting Empowerment, added: "Posting loans to Kiva helps us finance more agricultural and timber projects in communities that want to work with us. We love the connection aspect of Kiva; that anyone can connect directly with a community and help them improve their economic situation. More communities in Panamá are approaching us about doing these types of sustainable agroforestry projects, and we expect to continue using Kiva as a way to fund them."

About Planting Empowerment

Founded in 2006, Planting Empowerment (PE) is a Washington, DC-based company with agroforestry operations in Panama. Planting Empowerment works in partnership with rural communities in Panama to grow tropical hardwoods and promote sustainable land use. As the first forestry company in Panama to work through a land lease model, PE has 25 hectares of trees under management on land owned by smallholders and indigenous communities.

More about Planting Empowerment at http://www.plantingempowerment.com.

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Andrew Parrucci
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