Bikes for the World

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Spotlight on Guanacaste Costa Rica

Guanacaste is a well known and loved area of Costa Rica along the northwest coast of the country. Tourists flock to the beaches along the Pacific coastline to enjoy activities such as surfing, scuba diving, fishing, or just relaxing in the sand.

Guanacaste is one of seven provinces in Costa Rica. It is the province that produces most of food in Costa Rica, including crops of sugar cane, corn, and rice. Cattle farming, which produces most of the meat and milk in the country, supports many families living the Guanacaste region.

Making a living. Despite the success of tourism and agriculture in the area, Guanacaste suffers with the biggest economic inequality of all the provinces. The lack of employment is the leading factor for this disparity.

While the influx of tourism boasts a booming resort industry, many of these big resorts employ few local residents. Agriculture continues to be the leading means of income for most Guanacastecos. These local farmers and small entrepreneurs, however, struggle to find support from the larger resort entities, who often rely on larger producers for supplies.

EC of Santa Cruz
FINCA Costa Rica has created 12 Empresas de Crédito (ECs) in the region of Guanacaste. The ECs work as a team to boost the economic impact in their communities. This empowers the struggling Guanacastecos who rely on sales in small roadside markets to provide for their families.

A persisting problem affecting these small farmers  of late is also the weather. This year the drought is the worst in decades because of the El Niño weather event. The drought has affected most of the crops and cattle farmers. Sources cite a 75% reduction in meat, milk, and honey production in the past two years.

Bikes. Most of the members of these ECs in Guanacaste are small farmers dedicated to agriculture or cattle farming. Many rely on bicycles to get their product to market for sale. Some people use bikes to get to work at the resorts and others have started their own tourism companies.

To date, Bikes for the World has only donated one container of bikes to the Guanacaste province. Our partnership with FINCA Costa Rica works with these area micro-finance groups to make this possible. Although there is a great demand for bicycles in this area due to the flat topography and need of workers, the distance from port makes it a costly endeavor to transport bikes across the country once they are unloaded from the ship.

Don Frederico Camacho. This trike Don Frederico picked out last December allows him to travel from his home to market to run errands for the family. He also uses it to transport bread his wife makes at home that he sells at the market.

At 58, Don Frederico had never ridden a bicycle. He picked out this tricycle to help shorten his 4 mile commute to market and make it easier to transport goods. For safety, Don Frederico also purchased a helmet and put lights and a horn on his trike.

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