More than 330 new local businesses have sprung up around the Pueblo Viejo mine since Barrick acquired the operation in 2006. Here are just a few examples:
With a membership of 48, the Hatillo Fishermen’s Union and Association has been operating a fish farm on the Hatillo Reservoir, for more than a year, that breeds four different types of fish. Located six kilometers downstream from the Pueblo Viejo mine, the Association breeds a total of 1,500 fish per breed, keeping its members very busy. But the story was very different several years ago.
“Inclement weather and poor water quality prevented us from successfully breeding fish in floating cages,” says Feliz Romero Perez, an Association member. “Barrick provided us with new cages to grow fish two and a half years ago, and we’ve just had our first fish harvest. Now we are working on our second.”
Sonya Castellano informally launched her baking business in Cotuí in 1987 out of necessity.
“My husband’s pension proved too little to maintain our family’s quality of life, so I began selling cake in a portable cooker with a pot and a grill,” recalls Castellano.
Initially, her bakery was more of a service: patrons would bring her ingredients and pay her to bake cakes. By 2000, her four children, three daughters and a son, were working for her. In 2007, the bakery became one of Pueblo Viejo’s food suppliers. One of Castellano’s daughters, Bladanlli, is now a professional chef who is trained in various pastry-making techniques.
“I hope to see my children grow and work with Barrick’s employees, as I did,” Castellano says.
For the past nine years, the Unifying Dominican Hands Foundation has empowered women in the municipality of Cotuí to find new avenues to generate income. One program recently introduced by the foundation helps women transform recycled materials, such as plastics and used clothes, into artisanal crafts that are sold at local and international fairs. The program is called Ecological Creations from the Colony.
“None of this would be possible without support from Barrick’s Business Incubator here in the province of Sánchez Ramírez,” says Ramona Ortiz, Vice President of the Foundation. “Because of this project, these women are earning additional income working from home, and some have had the opportunity to travel to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and San Antonio, Texas, to sell the wallets and purses that they’ve created.”
The foundation is also offering sewing classes to local women to further encourage them to start their own business out of their home.