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Dominican Republic micro-finance bank eyes other Caribbean countries

Products Coordinator for Banco ADOPEM, Mariano Frontera Martinez.

A Dominican Republic micro-financing bank that targets small farmers is eyeing the rest of the Caribbean, a senior official of that financial institution said Tuesday.

Products Coordinator for Banco ADOPEM, Mariano Frontera Martinez said Caribbean countries are attractive because of the need for small loans. “It’s possible that we will expand to the Caribbean. At least the BBVA Micro-Finance Foundation has plans to expand to all the American countries,” he said. Martinez could not set a date when Banco ADOPEM would open its doors in any of the Caribbean countries.

He is among several delegates attending the Caribbean-Pacific Agri-Food Forum being held at the University of the West Indies’ Cave Hill Campus, Barbados from November 2 to 6, 2015.

Currently, the bank is working with The Netherlands-based Technical Centre for Agricultural Development and Rural Development (CTA) in supporting value-chains for plantain and banana production by small farmers in the Dominican Republic.

ADOPEM (originally a non-governmental organisation named the Dominican Association for Women’s Development), that bank is also working with the CTA on a range of technical issues including the integration of processing associations and training clients to make them resilient to droughts, floods and other conditions caused by climate change.

 “You need to give support to them. You don’t win anything if you are not supporting them and training them,” Martinez told Demerara Waves.

Founded in 1982 as an NGO, ADOPEM also provides specialized training to small farmers in managing cash flows, improving sales and making good investments.

Touting the attractiveness of his bank, the Product Coordinator said regular commercial banks do not understand the needs of small farmers. “Big commercial banks will treat them as consumers and require statements of account. ADOPEM prepares the statements during the evaluation,” he said.

The bank also deploys representatives to farms across that Spanish-speaking Caribbean country on the island of Hispaniola, processing applications, collecting payments and issuing receipts with high-tech handheld gadgets. ““We go to the client. The others expect the clients to go to them…The client doesn’t need to move from his location,” he said.

Of the 300,000 clients, ADOPEM has about 20,000 farmers on roll who are currently beneficiaries of small loans. He explained that no collateral is required for very low loans but the interest rates are higher than those for higher loans.