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Stories of Life Change

A new outlook- and a new look- in La Represa

October 24, 2018

In the central hills of the Dominican Republic sits a community that has been part of the Plant With Purpose family for many years. La Represa has become an exciting example of what kind of change is possible when we invest in holistic change.

Once they faced a situation familiar to many in the rural parts of the country, feeling left behind in poverty while their urbanized countrymen experienced growth. It once seemed as though a future of starting businesses and being able to provide well for one’s family was out of reach. Now, it is the story of what happened.

Entrepreneurs in La Represa have gained skills from membership in savings groups.

Entrepreneurs in La Represa have gained skills from membership in savings groups.

La Represa is a village on the rise

From its appearance, La Represa is a simple but lively community. Tucked away in the green hills where trees have helped keep soil fertile, you’ll find families, seniors, and young adults engaged in the process of making their place a good one to call home. While farming still makes up the backbone of the economy, many entrepreneurs are also starting small businesses on the side.

Both activities, farming and small businesses, go hand in hand. When Plant With Purpose began working in La Represa, an immediate goal was to increase the amount of money families were able to earn through their crop production. Agroforestry, sustainable agriculture, and soil conservation all helped raise crop growth and crop diversity. This in turn allowed many farmers to generate more income.

Plant With Purpose started to help the community form savings groups. Members would elect their own leaders, decide on their own bylaws, and start meeting on a regular basis. In La Represa, well-functioning banks were hard to come by, so these savings groups provided the community with an opportunity they didn’t have before: the chance to save money and to take out loans.

When group members like Carina, Fernando, or Carmella had saved enough money, they were able to take out loans up to three times the amount they saved. That’s when things really began to take off.

Fernando opened a barbershop in La Represa.

Fernando opened a barbershop in La Represa.

These entrepreneurs have given their community a makeover- literally.

Interestingly, so many of the small businesses that the members of their group gravitated towards were personal care and grooming shops. Fernando became a barber. Carina became a beautician. Carmella discovered her passion for fixing clothes.

Carmella learned how to sow and discovered that she loved that line of work. The 20,000 pesos from her savings group went towards a sewing machine and a display case. Her store sells clothes she’s made, and she also takes in clothes from community members who need to get them fixed. “Starting my own business was a leap of faith,” she notes. “I did this all by myself.”

Carina’s beauty parlor started with a single dryer. She spent three years in her savings group and bought a second one so she could double her clients. Her business allowed her to quickly pay off her loans. When her husband lost his job, the beauty parlor became the way they were continue to provide for their three kids.

Fernando takes in five or six clients a day, some of whom aren’t even from La Represa. During busy months like December, he can even see up to thirty clients. His businesses’ success has allowed him to expand it and to make improvements to his home. All this after only two years in a savings group.

While Fernando, Carina, and Carmella are among many who can give individuals in La Represa a new look, together, they’ve also given their community a new outlook. People in La Represa can see what change and growth looks like, and can see that it starts small but grows beautiful.

Want a makeover from Carina? You’ll have to visit La Represa for that, but there is another way you can support a budding entrepreneur like her. Purpose Partners help turn these business dreams into reality. To learn more about how you can join, explore the process of becoming a Purpose Partner.

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