Monday, November 21, 2011

Passport Series: Dominican Republic: Part 3: Banks of Hope

This month’s Passport Series is all about the Dominican Republic! This vibrant Caribbean nation offers a rich fusion of European, African and indigenous cultures and boasts hundreds of miles of tropical coastline. Follow us throughout the month of October as we learn about The Dominican Republic as a nation, its microfinance sector, and the work that Kiva does there!

Kiva’s Field Partner in the Dominican Republic, Esperanza International, uses a “group lending” format when providing microfinance services. Esperanza borrowers (80% of whom are women) are divided into solidarity groups of five entrepreneurs from the same community. Multiple solidarity groups within a region then join to create what Esperanza calls a Bank of Hope. These Banks of Hope receive their micro loans, go through business training, and then make loan payments together as a unit. The individual members provide support to one another throughout the process. If a member cannot pay in full or on time, the other group members are responsible for making the payment. Esperanza has found that this system cultivates meaningful social bonds, trust and accountability among its borrowers. Esperanza’s Banks of Hope have an impressive 97.1% repayment rate!

Each Bank of Hope gives itself a name that represents what is important to its members. Read on to get to know a few of the groups better!

Women of Union and Peace (Mujeres de Union y Paz)

In this Group: Rosa, Francisca, Rosa*, Alexandra, Zunilda, Teodocia, Gloria, Dignorah, Juan, Ana, Rosalvi, Ana*, Germania, Guillermo, Ruberto
*not pictured

The members of the Women of Union and Peace Bank of Hope live in the rural areas surrounding San Pedro de Macoris, a coastal Dominican city located an hour’s drive east of the country’s capital Santo Domingo. Their homes are surrounded by vast sugarcane fields. The group’s coordinator, Rosa, is a single mother of two who has been running a used clothing business for over eight years. During this time, Rosa has taken out and repaid eight Esperanza loans which she has used to develop her business. She is currently using her ninth loan to increase her inventory. Rosa plans to use her profits to finish building a home for her family.

Fighting to Live (Luchando Para Vivir)

In this Group: Wanda, Bernarda, Dominga, Maria, Jenniffer, Marisol, Isidro, Yuleidy, Maria, Altagracia

The Fighting to Live Bank of Hope is based in Santiago, the second biggest city in the Dominican Republic, an area famous for its tobacco and beef production. Wanda, the group’s coordinator, is currently using her first Esperanza loan to develop her jewelry business. She buys silver jewelry from wholesalers and sells it in her neighborhood by visiting clients such as secretaries and bank tellers at their places of work. She will use her business profits to build a water cistern in her house and her dream is to finish high school.

Blessing of Working Women (Bendicion de Mujeres Trabajadoras )

In this Group: Reyna, Niulca, Luz, Odalis, Ydelina, Ventura, Yomaira, Priscila, Cristina, Yojana

The Blessing of Working Women Bank of Hope is located in San Pedro de Macoris, a city famous for its sugar cane industry and for producing great baseball players. Reyna, the group’s coordinator, runs a food stand where she sells sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers and juices. Reyna is currently paying back her first loan with Esperanza which she used to buy supplies including meat, bread and vegetables. She plans to use her profits to reinvest in her business. She wants to be a successful businesswoman and to one day attend university.

To make a loan one of Esperanza’s inspiring Banks of Hope, click here!