On board ‘La Josefina’, dreams can come true

Diana Céspedes is one of thousands of entrepreneurs in this country who grows guineo, the typical Dominican banana, and exports her entire production from her eight hectares of land to the European Union. She is one of the leading women in her community. She is Chair of the women’s association and one of five women in ‘Los Tainos’ Organic Banana Producers Cooperative (COOPPROBATA) which represents around 250 producers.

She works with her husband and the expansión of her business has enabled her to take on a further three family family members, with whom she harvests about 20 boxes of guineo every week, which she sells for around USD 10 each. “They told me that Banco Adopem was the bank for poor people. I rang on their door and they asked me what I needed. They came to my house, saw my plot of land and gave me a loan. I wanted the money to improve as a producer”, she explains, as she winds her way through the banana trees.

Diana thinks of herself as a working woman, flexible and enthusiastic. Someone who is not weighed down by the difficulties of life and who makes an effort to get on with things. When she remembers how she started, she feels satisfied with everything she has achieved: two of her children are going to start studying at university and the little one is studying at school.

The agricultural training she has received has enabled her to manage her crops better. She has learned about good farming and manufacturing practices, fertilization techniques, how to use machinery, as well as product transport and hygiene. This training has given added value to the financing she has received from the bank.

“The good thing about Adopem was that they didn’t just lend me the money. They also taught me how to use it to invest in my plot of land and in my home”, she says, standing by her wooden house, painted in bright colors.

Diana’s day starts at dawn. Three days a week, at six o’clock in the morning, she starts up the engine of La Josefina, her little boat, and crosses the river of Los Tramojos, the town in Azua where she lives. She casts her homemade fish baskets into the water and patiently waits to return home with the baskets filled with fish. Diana spends time fishing so as to have a second source of income to be able to ensure her children’s future. With the DOP 70,000 she received from her most recent Banco Adopem loan she was able to buy this boat.

“I encourage other families to go to Banco Adopem, to become entrepreneurs like me, so that they have a better future, guarantee their children’s education, improve their standard of living, get ahead and have a prosperous family”, she explains.

Diana is determined that her family will succeed in the long term. And she wants to do it the best way she knows how: farming and fishing. She will continue producing guineo and now she hopes to be able to export to Israel and to set up a small fishmonger’s on the beach, next to the sand where La Josefina waits for her until dawn, when she will once again throw her fishing baskets into the river.