Fiesta Del Coco

  • Business
  • Community Growth
  • Let Girls Learn
  • Women & Gender
  • Dominican Republic
This project is led by Ray Sanchez, a Volunteer from Nevada

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Community members working with coconuts
Community members working with coconuts

The project, which will be a town fair, is an opportunity to bring the entire province together to an event that is fun, educational, and inspiring. The fair is meant to raise awareness of the industry in the province and raise our brands’ awareness. The association hosting the fair produces virgin coconut oil and other coconut based products. During the fair we mean to have all day exhibits and one of them will be showing how we make our products, from the tree to the market. We will also ask that each group taking part in the fair also have exhibitions showing how their product is made and give some history about their organization. The fair is not only to sell goods but to be an educational experience. Another aspect of the fair is to encourage the local people to not look for work only in hotels and tourism, but instead to try other trades and try something new. Since the inception of the project, there has been a driving idea to provide the women of the association with an opportunity to do something different with their lives. 90 percent of the women in our association are housewives with little access to work or further education. The way things are going it seems the younger generation of women may find themselves in the same situation sooner than later. This fair gives the women and teens a chance to be taught and learn things that would not normally come to them in their daily lives. It’s a chance to let them see how much they can accomplish when they work together towards a common goal that will benefit them for years to come. The people of the town and the province as a whole live tranquil lives. Life is pretty here as the scenery is green and surrounded by beaches. Yet, there is something lacking that all the natural beauty cannot make up for. What’s lacking is an industry that encourages growth both personally and economically. There are plenty of small associations in the region that are trying to improve their situations and grow their businesses but they need help. All the attention in the province goes to the tourism industry and to the luxury resorts and hotels that don’t pay their workers fairly. This fair will allow local businesses and artists a chance to showcase their work and goods in front of large crowds and to the media. The first annual fair will help boost travel to the region and remind everyone that this town is much more than meets the eye. While the theme is local goods and services, education is one of our priorities. Every group participating must attend an all-day general business workshop 3 weeks before the fair to go over basic business principles. We will have follow up surveys and interviews 1 month after the fair to see how the training has helped their businesses.

The community members are the ones behind this project as they are involved or in charge of most aspects of planning and execution. Already we are meeting at least once a week for a few hours. Ideas for educational aspects, entertainment, and marketing are currently being discussed. Together we also research new ideas and learn as a unit. The entire project is meant to give our members a chance to learn something new and try their hand at something exciting and good for the association. The fair is a learning experience from the beginning to end with plenty of time to experiment and self-teach. A recent example is that a few members got together recently to draft a letter to the mayor and went online to learn how to write a professional letter. After plenty of research and group discussion they drafted a letter that is well thought out and well done.

As we go along planning the fair, we will form several committees where host country nationals can sit and discuss the planning process and divide the work evenly. New members are being added to the planning committee all the time as interest builds in the community.

The project will be self-sustaining after the first year counting on the revenue and increased sales of our products to fund the event the following year. The following year’s event will be much easier to market and find donors and sponsors. The association will also not have to worry next year about banners and signs since the name will be the same and lots of materials can be used the subsequent years. As the reputation of the fair spreads we will be able to charge more for booth space and advertising and the sales of goods/products will increase thereby diminishing our need for outside funding.

The plan is to also establish a fair committee to ensure the life and future success of the fair. The committee will be in charge of organizing the fair and managing the funds. We will put in place our most active women into leadership roles. Also keeping in mind that the future generation must be engaged, a few roles will be sure to go to our younger female members to ensure the longevity of the project. 

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