CASE STUDY: PANA PANA
Pana Pana serves the northern Atlantic coast of Nicaragua, which is the poorest region of the country. Women comprise about 70% of Pana Pana’s borrowers, and many borrowers are Miskitu, the indigenous group of the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua and Honduras. Like indigenous people throughout Latin America, the Miskitu face severe discrimination in Nicaragua. Most of Pana Pana’s loan officers speak Miskitu, which makes credit accessible to the significant portion of the Miskitu population that does not speak Spanish well enough to conduct business. Very few MFIs serve the Atlantic coast, and Pana Pana is the only one that concentrates on business loans to the lower end of the economic spectrum.
Pana Pana, Miskitu for “mutual help”, is headquartered in Bilwi, Nicaragua, also known as Puerto Cabezas. It was founded in 1991 to provide financial and non-financial services to people living in the North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (RACCN), which was heavily affected by the Nicaraguan civil war. The RACCN remains quite inaccessible, even for those in Nicaragua.
Pana Pana has been a staple in the Puerto Cabezas community since its founding in 1991. Many NGOs have come and gone from Puerto Cabezas. Pana Pana is the only NGO to have kept its doors open continuously for 25 years.