According to the most recent poverty survey in Nicaragua*, 70% of employed Nicaraguans work in the informal sector. This is to say two million people work either for themselves or are sub-employed.
The lack of formal, well-paying Jobs (those which offer a contract, fixed salary, benefits, and social security) has caused the majority of Nicaraguans to create their own businesses or go to the streets to be able to support themselves.
For this reason, the cities of Nicaragua are characterized by an abundance of small businesses, corner convenience stores, food stands, small pharmacies, tortilla stands, bakeries, used clothing stores, not to mention countless vehicles and bicycles that offer transportation services. On the streets, too, you can buy everything: juices, fruit, hammocks, car parts, exotic dogs, and on special occasions, artificial roses, Christmas decorations, flags, and political symbols.
“The Nicaraguan doesn’t die of hunger,” goes a saying that describes the ingenuity of this people who never cease to generate ideas and create all variety of micro-business that are the motor of our economy.
Even so, although informal employment has been the alternative for surviving day to day, it still doesn’t hold a guarantee for long-term economic improvement. The informal employee is someone with few possibilities for training to improve their business and pay off credit and loans.
According to the same survey, few self-employed workers have received support in their work. At the national level, around 6% declare to have participated in some type of training and only 2% report having received technical assistance.
“That 2% is where we enter, thanks to God! That is our little grain of sand!” says Freddy Méndez, coordinator of the program “Kingdom Businesses.” The program focuses on providing technical assistance, accompaniment, and training in Biblical principles to a growing number of Christians who earn their living from running a small business.
One of those Christians is Taylor Chávez, a dedicated pastor and chicken salesman in the city of Chinandega who has been participating in the business network for three years now. “The workshop titled ‘The Accounting of the Orange Seller’ challenged me greatly,” says Taylor, “That practical and simple study helped to open my accounting mind more for my business.”
The topic of accounting is a difficult one for the majority of self-employed workers. They are used to doing the numbers for their business “in their head” or in a small, informal notebook. This is principally because they consider their business to be small and therefore, accounting isn’t necessary. Or it may just be that they don’t know how or they don’t see the value in it.
But the practical workshops on accounting offered by the “Kingdom Businesses” network are expanding minds and equipping small businesspeople with some tools to grow. “The next thing I would like to learn,” says Taylor, “Is how to audit my business – even though I’m not an auditor.”