Casa Congo is a conservation NGO that was founded in 2017 with a mission to empower communities for sustainable development. Casa Congo runs a bamboo school in Nicaragua with a focus on 4 programs: Agroecology, Built Environments, Conservation and Community Development.
Casa Congo is unique because it’s founded on a symbiotic relationship with the local community and their environmental context. With the primary objective of building capacity and infrastructure at a local level, a multi-disciplinary global team of founders, board members, and collaborators, donate over 6,000 hours / year to build local relationships, share knowledge, and drive the mission with an equitable approach based on participatory design. This model enables a high “impact for money”, due to a very lean international overhead and a key focus on local program development. Casa Congo promotes intergenerational knowledge sharing and supports local community leaders to become sustainability advocates to drive grassroots change, with a long term vision to enable the local community to autonomously run the programs from a financial, operational and cultural perspective.
Through a circular approach, Casa Congo is boosting the socio-economic recovery of Nicaragua, by creating education and employment opportunities, whilst regenerating the natural environment. Casa Congo’s business model offers free education to local students and research-based internships to international students, as well as incubating local social enterprises.
The Agroecology program of Casa Congo is a community-driven and women-led initiative which supports ecological restoration and food sovereignty in the rural coastal town of El Astillero on the pacific coast of Nicaragua. ‘Las Flores’ is the mutual-aid group of 12 mothers, founded by Anielka Aguirre, Casa Congo’s Agroecology coordinator, this group establishes the budget of the program and manages the centre of agroecology on the Casa Congo site. The space hosts educational workshops and researchers that tackle the challenges faced by the community such as: water pollution, deforestation, flooding, and food insecurity at the household and landscape level. Each year a budget is put forward by ‘Las Flores’ that funds the maintenance of the Centre of Agroecology, paid apprenticeships for women, grey water filters, water storage and capture, a seed bank and nursery, educational workshops at the centre and at the local school and ecological restoration with farming cooperatives in the area.