Fundación Paraguaya is a social enterprise founded in Paraguay in 1985 that seeks to develop innovative solutions to poverty and unemployment, and proactively disseminate them throughout the world. The Foundation enables people of limited resources to create jobs and increase their family income, promoting urban and rural entrepreneurship through three interrelated strategies: a Microfinance program that supports microentrepreneurs and emerging entrepreneurs generally relegated by other microfinance institutions, an economic education program for children and young people and a self-sufficient agricultural high school that teaches organic agriculture and business skills to low income youth from rural areas to transform them from “poor small landholders” into “rural entrepreneurs”.
The Foundation arose thirty years ago out of a group of business people and social leaders frustrated with the dictator’s inability to deal with the problems of severe poverty and his lack of support for those who wished to leave poverty behind. The original premise was that by improving the business skills of microentrepreneurs ,the latter would be capable of initiating their own businesses, benefitting themselves and their community. It soon became obvious that more than the lack of skills, the lack of credit prevented the growth of these businesses. Rapid access to a relatively small loan could make the difference between taking advantage of a business opportunity and losing it. The end of the dictatorship opened Paraguay to the world and for Fundación Paraguaya brought new possibilities for cooperation with the State. One of the biggest challenges for Paraguay was to bring the benefits of economic development to the rural areas. This was not happening despite the fact that more than half the population earned their living off the land.