Somos aqui en La Republica Dominica! We have arrived! Twelve Oikocredit Investors from the USA and Canada have convened along with Oikocredit staff in the Dominican Republic (DR) to see with our own eyes what investor dollars actually do.
In order for the investors to get a macro view of the Dominican Republic the first day in mostly spent in-doors. To orient us to the market, we received presentations from Teresita Murillo, Director of the Regional Office in Costa Rica and Laura Martinez, Country Manager of the Dominican Republic. By covering topics such as portfolio at risk (PAR), outstanding portfolio, unemployment levels, cooperatives, GDP and agricultural lending, the group was able to get a “bird’s eye view” of Oikocredit’s approach to combating some of the economic struggles that exist in the DR.
Teresita has been working for Oikocredit for 23 years and hired Laura to open the Dominican Office. Teresita, from the regional office in Costa Rica, oversees Oikocredit’s operations in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic. The Dominican office was established in 2008 and now has the strongest portfolio in the region. Both women have a deep passion for creating economic opportunity for poor communities in the region.
Currently the Dominican Republic suffers from a 40.9% rate of poverty, meaning that almost half of the population lives on less than $2 per day. This creates a large” informal” sector of the economy, hence Oikocredit’s presence in the region. With a portfolio of over $10 million Oikocredit provides financial services to over 350,000 Dominicans. These individuals are comprised of small scale entrepreneurs, farmers and cooperative members. Most of the farmers Oikocredit DR supports are banana and cocoa producers, a majority of whom are members of cooperatives and own shares in the coop itself that allow them to share in the overall profits. As we travel around the country this week, I will be providing an in-depth look into each of the before-mentioned factions that make up Oikocredit’s portfolio.
Tomorrow the 12 of us split into two groups and travel on divergent paths. Both groups will be visiting microfinance institutions (MFIs) around Santo Domingo. After visiting the physical offices of the MFI each group will travel to view a sampling of the types of clients whom the MFI provides loans to. For a majority of the investors this will be the first time they will see the effects of their investment on a single individual. All of us are excited to hit the road and begin to take in what this incredible and dynamic country has to offer. Stay tuned as our collective adventure begins to heat up!
Thanks for your update Stuart! Great you keep us informed, this way we are a bit joining the tour as well :). Enjoy this great experience!