The outreach of Grameen Trust is not confined to Asia and Asia - Pacific region anymore; many poor of Latin America are getting the benefits of Grameen microcredit system through the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) projects of Grameen Trust. Grameen Trust in collaboration with the Whole Planet Foundation (WPF), the philanthropic arm of the Whole Food Foundation is implementing two BOT projects in Costa Rica and Guatemala. These are Asociacion Costa Rica Grameen Credit and Asociacion Civil Guatemalteca Grameen Credit projects. More than US$ 2 million has been pledged by WPF for these projects. Grameen Trust initiated the projects in Costa Rica and Guatemala in December, 2005. Grameen Trust believes that through these projects many poor people of Costa Rica and Guatemala who genuinely and urgently require credit to break through the vicious cycle of poverty will be benefited, as Grameen model of microcredit facilitates generation of self employment as well as economic and financial solvency.
The rate and the level of poverty in both the countries are very high. Costa Rica, with a population of 4,016,173 has a high level of poverty, as about 18 percent of its people (about 722,911 people) are living below the poverty line.
This country has a rich cultural heritage and a vast land area. Rural residents in Costa Rica are more affected by poverty than urban residents. More than 65 percent of the poor in Costa Rica reside in rural areas. These rural areas contain only 49 percent of the total population. Grameen Trust has selected Limon Province to implement the project because of its high population density and poverty. Till June 2006 a total of US$ 36,222 has been provided as loans to 201 borrowers.
The rate of poverty and inequality of Guatemala is also very high. It is estimated that 56.2% of the population is poor, and that 15.7% of those count among the extreme poor. The rate of literacy is also low in this country. Till June 2006 a total of US$ 15,079 have been provided as loans to 215 borrowers of Grameen projects.
The partnership of the Whole Planet Foundation and Grameen Trust will be strengthened further if these projects are successful in establishing BOT projects in Costa Rica and Guatemala. The microcredit projects can be scaled up further if the field performance attains success.