Harvesting what was sown

Diana Céspedes usually starts her day at the break of dawn. On board her small boat, La Josefina, she would cruise the Tramojos River to catch some fish to be sold. Yet one particular day, she exchanged her usual routine for an airplane trip heading to Madrid, to attend the 10th Anniversary celebration of the BBVA Microfinance Foundation (BBVAMF). She is set to share how a 25 thousand-peso loan (around 500 USD) helped provide for her husband and three children. Like her, 77% of people around the world who were able to escape poverty through enterprising, consider financial exclusion as an essential roadblock to achieve their goals.

From Banco Adopem, the BBVAMF’s entity in the Dominican Republic, she did not simply receive loans- she was also given financial education which enabled her to make better use of her resources. She was also taught good farming practices, along with the efficient use of fertilizer and other techniques to improve the output of her organic banana plantation.

To a degree, it is her business acumen and her relevance to the community that made her an example of how a woman could contribute beyond her home and to the society, when given a chance. This made her much more enthusiastic to meet the Foundation to which Banco Adopem belongs, an institution that promotes the sustainable development of vulnerable entrepreneurs.

It was surprising for her to see so many people eager to hear what she and the other entrepreneur panelists had to say

Upon her arrival in Madrid, the stark contrast between the calm of her tropical district and the noisy vigor of the city astonished her. Accordingly, on the day of the celebration, she excitedly looked around, impressed with the crowd coming and going, the number of media people carrying their equipment everywhere, and most of all, she was dazed at the solemnity of the event. The truth is, it was surprising for her to see so many people eager to hear what she and the other entrepreneur panelists had to say.

Diana greeting the Queen

A few minutes before the event started, she had the chance to greet the Queen. If she was ever nervous at any point, nobody would’ve guessed it thanks to her cheery mood.

The only time she turned serious was when she started sharing her life story during her panel intervention. She narrated how much effort and hard work were invested to pull her family out of extreme poverty. They live on the south of the Dominican Republic, where the household poverty rate is as high as 65%. Before knowing Banco Adopem, her husband would go out to find any menial job he could do and she would peddle on the streets. She used to sell sweet potato bread and at times she and her family didn’t have anything to eat at all. This was the situation that prevailed in her life and she never imagined that she could one day qualify for a formal loan. But Banco Adopem granted her that loan, and in no time, she was able to access to a second one which she used to buy La Josefina.

Her good fortune made her want to help others who are not so prosperous

Thanks to the advancement of her business, her family was able to experience an improved quality of life. Three of her children are currently studying and two of them are about to start in the university. Yet even with all that she is enjoying, she chooses not to settle; her good fortune made her want to help others who are not so prosperous. With this idea in mind, she began assisting migrant Haitians to be employed, may it be as part-time workers or as domestic assistants.

In light of this project, she aims to acquire another lot to expand her plantation hoping to recruit more workers, while improving her household economy. With the support of the BBVAMF and through Productive Finance, Diana is becoming a real catalyst for change in her small community.