Friday, July 5, 2013

Salt producer and cooperative employ 130

Nicaraguan salt cooperative
LEÓN, Nicaragua --- Gustavo Castillo is an ordinary man with an extraordinary sense of entrepreneurship. With a vision to restore dignity and provide employment to people of rural western Nicaragua, Gustavo is dedicated to doing business as a ministry.

This new vision began in 2012, when a friend invited Gustavo to attend a meeting hosted by Business for the Kingdom, one of our partnerships in Nicaragua.
The Business for the Kingdom partnership seeks to promote real and tangible impact in local communities in order that local businesses are strengthened, more profitable, and create more jobs.  However, it all begins with a change in the entrepreneurs themselves.
“The whole journey gave me a brand new business worldview,” says Gustavo, one of two dozen business Salt cooperative meetingowners within the partnership.  He felt affirmed to continue growing his business as a ministry, and increasing employment in the rural region where he works.
After that first experience, Gustavo participated in the rigorous Partners Worldwide business training program with peers in León, as well as workshops and peer-mentoring discussions on business leadership. He is thankful to be a part of a Christian business network like Business for the Kingdom. 
Now he's working to apply this new knowledge to his own business.  With over 30 years in the salt industry, Gustavo employs more than 30 people in his business, Las Mulas.
“For many of his employees, this is the only opportunity they have to bring food to their tables and feed their families,” says Daniel Espinoza, the Partners Worldwide partnership manager in Nicaragua.  “It brings dignity to them as the heads of families, and equips them to feed their families and send their kids to school, something they wouldn’t be able to access without that job.” 
As a small business owner, about a decade ago, Gustavo realized it was challenging to compete and produce such a high-quality product on a larger scale.  In response, he and other salt producers decided to work together to provide edible fine salt that meets national and international standards. Their initiative gave birth to a cooperative which has grown to more than 60 small business owners today, together employing more than 130 people.  In partnership with a larger processing company, the cooperative supplies Nicaragua’s only fine salt distributed throughout the country. They also share the vision to grow beyond Nicaragua and sell fine salt throughout Central America.
In addition, Business for the Kingdom hopes to expand beyond León and Chinandega, to connect business owners and entrepreneurs throughout surrounding regions with Biblically-based business training and mentoring relationships with North Americans and experienced business professionals within Nicaragua.
“Now they have a group they feel they belong to,” says Espinoza about members of Business for the Kingdom. “Within the Christian business partnership, they’re being empowered by a shared vision to impact the community and can also provide support and encouragement to each other."
Business for the Kingdom is a partnership between the Nehemiah Center and Partners Worldwide and is active in León and Chinandega. This partnership connects Nicaraguan businesses with a group of North American businesspeople who mentor and walk alongside them.

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