Getting to know Nicaragua

Conociendo NicaraguaEcoSouth member Paul Moreno from Ecuador recently undertook a study visit to Nicaragua to get to know the network partner first hand. His time at SofoNic became an enrichment that brought life to the images and material he received for the website. His lively account of his experiences and impressions is covered in the accompany article.

Rediscovering SofoNic

Paul Moreno Arteaga


When one speaks of Nicaragua in Latin America, its volcanoes and natural beauty, and the songs of the Mejía Godoy brothers come to mind. However, this Central American country has other qualities as well.  Above all one notices the laboriousness of its inhabitants and their desire to progress together.  I had the opportunity to experience this during a study visit to the complex of the EcoSouth Network in Nicaragua.


Until this time, my knowledge of the activities of the Network in Nicaragua had been limited to the reports and photographs published on the EcoSouth Web Site. Thus, I would like to share my impressions  with  the Web Site readers and let them participate with me in this rediscovery of SofoNic.


The Network in Nicaragua is composed of two parts, the NGO SofoNic with its social projects, and the firm EcoTec SA that produces construction materials for the market and contributes with its profits to the SofoNic projects.


My first impression was the intense laboriousness. At the EcoMateriales plant, two units were producing MicroConcrete Roofing tiles at full capacity, a block making machine was functioning at its maximum, a MB-800 mill (new model that produces 2.5 times more than the MB-600 and with less noise) was producing puzzolana cement, and outside along the tiles that were curing, were stored blocks and moulds. In the offices, more people were busy - administrative personnel, drivers, social promoters, architects and people simply coming in and out.


They implement projects of various types throughout all of Nicaragua. From San Juan del Sur, thirty minutes from the Costa Rican border, to Matiguas in the heart of the north; from private upmarket constructions to simple but dignified houses.


This responsibility requires not only quantity and quality in the production of the EcoMaterials, but also a great management and negotiation sillsy to organize the workers, talk with the beneficiaries, make arrangements with the local authorities, acquire land, surmount the bureaucracy and carry out the legal formalities.


The character of the farmers and indigenous Nicaraguans is that of a strong and independent people, and you can imagine the difficulties encountered in meetings and conversations in order to arrive at a consensus, especially in the housing projects that have a process of participatory design, a field in which SofoNic has acquired vast experience.


Private constructions require other skills, including a human touch, a common language, quality of finishing, complying with deadlines. The excellent qualities of the people involved in these activities has contributed to EcoTec´s becoming, without a doubt, an efficient and reliable construction firm.


The growth of SofoNic has consolidated with each experience or project realized, and from the errors it has learned lesions that have strengthened the capacities and skills of this successful team.



The work of SofoNic also incluyes an agreement with Pedals for Progress, an organization in the United Status that recycles bicycles and sends them to countries where they are needed. At the installation of of SofoNic, the warehouse serves as a storgage area for the bicycles as well as sales center. As well, many helmets, jackets and baseball bats are sold or donated to future Nicaraguan sports champions.


The Nicaragua of the web sites, of beautiful landscapes and bicycle paths along the Panamerican highway, are best known through experience, living them, travelling through them….even better riding a bicycle, as I did before returning to Ecuador, laden with a backpack full of experiences and a broader view of the Nicaraguans that make the SofoNic projects possible.


You are here: Home Past editions Edition #12, April 2005 Getting to know Nicaragua


Charlotter BelliCharlotte Belli
Social projects feasibility
Project implementation and evaluation


In 2005, SofoNic has started a dual education program for masons in Nicaragua, using its house-building programs as a base. Teaming up with the local technical school in Jinotepe they are graduating about ten masons every year since. Most f them have found jobs in construction or have started a business on their own. SofoNic has contracted several of them as master masons in the reconstruction programs in Haiti.