CAMBio Rewards Biodiversity-Friendly Enterprises in Central America
25 April 2012: As executor of the Central American Markets for Biodiversity (CAMBio) project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE) recently gave the "Bio Award" to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs) in Costa Rica and Honduras for their activities that contribute to biodiversity conservation in those countries.
Under the seven-year, US$30 million CAMBio project implemented by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and executed by BCIE, capital is provided to intermediary financial institutions with capacity to provide financing to SMMEs in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Access to financing is conditional on a series of requirements relating to care of biodiversity and environmental sustainability. As a further incentive for biodiversity-friendly goods and services, the Bio Award refunds 20% of the principal portion of a loan granted by an intermediary financial institution, with 70% of the refund given to the loan recipients and the remaining 30% given to the financial institution.
In Honduras, on 12 April 2012, the BCIE gave the Bio Award to two cooperatives of small coffee growers, the San Antonio Coffee Agricultural Cooperative Limited (COAGRICSAL) and La Encarnación Coffee Producers Cooperative Limited (COPROCAEL). COAGRICSAL represents some 2,000 hectares of coffee produced in Copán Department under environmental certification. COPROCAEL covers over 1,000 hectares of certified organic coffee produced in adjoining Ocotepeque Department under agro-forestry systems, with most of the farms located within Erapuca Wildlife Refuge and Cerro Azul de Copán National Park.
In Costa Rica, on 25 April 2012, BCIE gave the Bio Award to the Pérez Zeledón Cooperative of Savings and Credit and Multiple Services Alliance (COOPERALIANZA), a financial institution that delivers credits to producer sectors such as organic agriculture, sustainable tourism, sustainably managed forestry and coffee agro-forestry.
In the Honduran coffee case, at least 900 farmers have accessed loans administered through Banco de Occidente for a total of US$1.4 million, to ensure the commercialization of the 2011-2012 organic coffee harvest, and to encourage productive activities that promote biodiversity conservation. BCIE estimates that with the help of CAMBio credits, Honduran producers managed to sell over 30,000 pounds of organic coffee to Europe and the US.
BCIE reports that the CAMBio programme has provided US$783,455 in financing to biodiversity-friendly Costa Rican SMMEs that have practiced conservation of soil, watersheds and forest cover and have used their production wastes to generate organic compost. [BCIE Press Release on Honduras award (Spanish)] [BCIE Press Release on Costa Rica award (Spanish)] [CAMBio website]