During an official visit with the Spanish Cooperation Agency in the Dominican Republic, the Queen has visited the organic banana plantation that gives livelihood to Diana Céspedes and her family. This female entrepreneur, who receives support from the BBVA Microfinance Foundation’s Dominican MFI, shares that she started with nothing, and that being a community leader has been a step-by-step process. This achievement has been witnessed by the Queen, after meeting Diana last year during the 10th anniversary of the Foundation, held in Madrid. Spontaneously, the entrepreneur invited HM to visit the plantation and the Queen replied that should there be a scheduled trip to her country, she would do her best to accede.
Queen Letizia has been to Azua, two hours from Santo Domingo, where Diana explained how organic bananas are cultivated and how her life has improved. “Ten years ago, we didn’t have anything but our two hands. We survived on 30 euros per month. Today, my daughter is studying in the university and I dream of buying more land to leave a secure future for my grandchildren.” Her business has grown and Diana hires 11 employees; among them, 7 Haitians who help her in the plantation. They are able to pack around 20 boxes of bananas which sell at USD 10 per box.
Over the years, she has become a community leader. “People urge me to be their leader in everything!” she jokes. As of the moment, she is spokesperson for surveillance in the COOPPROBATA cooperative, through which they export bananas to Europe. She is also the president of the ‘La Esperanza’ Women’s Association.
The Queen has visited the cooperative, as well as the association, where 17 women manufacture candies and other sweets derived from bananas, as another source of income. “This visit acknowledges the Dominican woman, and female farmers like us, who struggle and toil to be independent”, confirmed Diana.
Ten of these women are also clients of the BBVAMF’s Dominican institution, which serves 400,000 low-income people. “41% of them live in rural areas and 67% are women, like Diana. She is an excellent example that, when given an opportunity, a woman is able to change her life and that of her family. That is why, empowering more than one million women served by the Foundation, is a priority, and for the Queen to have witnessed all this is a valuable support for us, and gives us great pride,” declared the Foundation’s CEO, Javier M. Flores.