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Dominican Migrants: Entrepreneurs in Spain

As a progressive money transfer operator, Ria works closely with migrant workers, be them agents or clients. Our agents are entrepreneurs who have started their own businesses or opened their own stores. Through these endeavors, they create jobs, contribute to their host economies and establish themselves as leaders in their communities.

This rejects the idea that migrant workers drain public funds and hinder economic development, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only is there data to back it up, but we can confirm it as well.

A vivid example is that of our Dominican agents in Spain, who we had the pleasure of hosting at our European headquarters in Madrid earlier this month.

First Meeting of Immigrant Entrepreneurs

What makes Ria so special is its network of agents. They help us expand and reach even the most remote of corners. They keep us close to our clients, so we can better serve them. But what we value most is how their own journeys inspire and motivate us. Their stories are what reminds us of why we come in to work every day.

To show our appreciation, we are hosting a series of meeting in our offices. The kick-off I Meeting of Immigrant Entrepreneurs took place this month and counted with the participation of Olivo Rodríguez Huertas, the Dominican Ambassador to Spain.

Dominican agents from all across the Iberian country visited our Madrid offices for a reception. Once there, they were able to reconnect with the field and agent support teams whose guidance they’ve counted with over the years working with Ria.

During an interview, the Dominican ambassador shared his insights on remittances, the impact they have on the Dominican economy and how he supports his countrymen in Spain, a transcript of which can be found below in English and Spanish.

Country Manager for Ria Spain Francisco Martínez and Julio de Castro, director of the Entrepreneurship PhD program at IE Business School and fellow Dominican, joined Rodríguez Huertas in congratulating the entrepreneurs for supporting both the Spanish and Dominican economies through their hard work.

Dominican Ambassador to Spain Olivo Rodríguez Huertas Discusses Remittances and Entrepreneurship

Ria: What do you think about the evolution of Dominican migration into Spain and what type of opportunities do Dominican workers who come here to start their own businesses have?

ORH: There are currently over 2,000,000 Dominicans living abroad, equivalent to 20% of the population, of which 180,000 reside in Spain.

This group has been characterized for their ability to innovate, develop business initiatives, respond to the needs of others and create supportive communities for their fellow countrymen regardless of education level or preparation.

These intrinsic qualities exemplified by Dominicans have evolved, especially in the last decade, thanks to a migration wave composed of technicians, professionals with bachelor’s and master’s degrees and those with proficiency in multiple languages. This has enhanced the entrepreneurial nature and spirit inherent in all Dominicans.

Spain, as one of the major destinations for expatriates given our history and cultural affinity, represents a land of opportunities. The syncretism, the cultural convergence and the presence of a great Latin American customer base and considering the economic situation observed in recent years has resulted in the transformation from employees to autonomous entrepreneurs. These are individuals who turn ideas into profitable initiatives that, little by little, have won their space within the Spanish market.

In terms of opportunities for entrepreneurial Dominicans in Spain, they are as unlimited as their level of creativity and capacity to innovate.

Ria: In your opinion, how do remittances benefit recipient countries such as the Dominican Republic?

ORH: Remittances are a substantial source for the stability of Dominican Republic’s macroeconomy. If we look at our balance of payments, remittances represent the third most important source of income within the checking account balance.

Along the same lines, we can confirm that remittances are one of the primary income sources. Between 2010 and 2018, remittances equated to 7% of the national GDP, superseding traditional sectors such as agriculture. In 2018, remittances rose to €545 billion, a 10.4% increase equivalent to an additional € 512.3 million in comparison to the 2017 total of €494 billion.

Currently, the Dominican community in Spain occupies the second remittance sender by country and by average transaction amount (€ 271.2 a month, equivalent to RD$ 16,407.6).

In the same way, money transfer companies are the primary intermediary for the cashing of transactions, 76.1% compared to the 23% that arrives through other financial institutions.

These remittances positively influence the quality of life of the families, contribute to the sustainable increase of their purchasing power, foster activity in certain sectors (such as commers and construction), are considered as a consumer stimulus (which has a direct impact on the local economy) and enable a better access to education and healthcare.

Ria: Do you have any upcoming projects for the Dominican community in Spain that can help boost their economic growth?

ORH: The Dominican population in Spain is mostly concentrated in Madrid and Barcelona, as well as other territories in Andalusia, Valencia, Galicia, Asturias and the Canary Islands. The embassy’s main objective is to organize meet-ups to promote Dominican values and our culture while simultaneously elevating the image of Dominicans in Spain to facilitate their integration into Spanish society, having a positive impact on the self-esteem of our citizens.

We do so through the visits to different autonomous communities we organize in which we meet with the local authorities and the commerce chambers to foster and strengthen the relationship between the Dominican Republic and the Kingdom of Spain.

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Ria: ¿Qué opina sobre la evolución de la migración dominicana a España y qué tipo de oportunidades tienen los trabajadores dominicanos que vienen a emprender y abrir sus propios negocios aquí?

ORH: En la actualidad más de 2,000,000 de dominicanos residen en el extranjero lo que representa casi un 20% de la población de la República Dominicana, de los cuales aproximadamente 180,000 residen en España.

Estos se han caracterizado desde los inicios de los procesos de emigración por su capacidad de innovar, desarrollar iniciativas empresariales, responder a las necesidades de los demás y crear núcleos de apoyo para otros compatriotas, indistintamente de su nivel de estudios o preparación.

Estas particularidades, intrínsecas del dominicano han evolucionado, sobre todo en la última década, en dónde se integra como elemento catalizador la ola de emigración protagonizada por técnicos, profesionales con títulos de grado y postgrado y aquellos que tienen un excelente dominio de idiomas distintos al español, lo que ha potenciado significativamente el espíritu y naturaleza emprendedora que de por sí es inherente en todos los dominicanos.

En este sentido, España, al ser uno de los principales destinos de emigración y debido a nuestra historia y afinidad cultural, representa una tierra de oportunidades. El sincretismo, la convergencia de culturas y la presencia de una gran base de consumidores latinoamericanos sumado a la situación económica que se ha presentado en los últimos años, ha tenido como resultado la evolución de empleados a autónomos emprendedores, individuos que transforman ideas en iniciativas rentables y que poco a poco se han ganado su espacio en el mercado español.

En cuanto a oportunidades para dominicanos emprendedores en España, son tan ilimitadas como su nivel de creatividad y capacidad de innovar.

Ria: ¿Cómo cree que ayudan las remesas a los países receptores como República Dominicana?

ORH: Las remesas son una fuente sustancial para la estabilidad macroeconómica de la República Dominicana. Si nos fijamos en nuestra balanza de pagos, estas representan la tercera fuente de divisas más importante dentro del saldo de cuenta corriente.

De igual forma podemos afirmar que las remesas son una de las principales fuentes de ingreso.  Para el período correspondiente a 2010 - 2018 las remesas representaron un 7% del PIB nacional, superando algunos sectores tradicionales como es el caso de la agricultura. En 2018 ascendieron a € 5,455 millones para un aumento de 10.4%, equivalente a € 512.3 millones adicionales con respecto a 2017, cuando el flujo de divisas por este concepto totalizó € 4,942 millones.

Actualmente, la comunidad dominicana en España se encuentra posicionada en el 2do lugar como emisor de remesas (por país) y en 2do lugar en cuanto a monto promedio por transacción (€ 271.2 al mes equivalente a RD$ 16,407.6).

De igual forma, las empresas remesadoras son el intermediario principal para el pago de los envíos, 76.1% frente al 23% que llega a través de las instituciones financieras.

Estas remesas influyen de forma positiva en la mejora de la calidad de vida de las familias, contribuyen al aumento sostenido de su poder adquisitivo, fomentan la activación de determinados sectores productivos (como el comercio o la construcción), son consideradas como un estímulo al consumo (lo que impacta directamente en la economía local) y posibilitan un mejor acceso a la educación y a la atención médica. 

Ria: ¿Qué proyectos tiene en marcha para la comunidad de dominicanos en España que impulsen su crecimiento económico?

ORH: La población dominicana en España se concentra mayormente en Madrid y Barcelona, y en otros territorios como es el caso de Andalucía, Valencia, Galicia, Asturias y las Islas Canarias. El principal objetivo del trabajo de la embajada con la comunidad es el de generar encuentros que nos permitan promover los valores dominicanos y su cultura al tiempo que elevamos la imagen del dominicano en España y con ello facilitemos su integración en la sociedad española, impactando positivamente el autoestima de nuestros ciudadanos.

Esto lo hacemos en el marco de las visitas que realizamos a las diferentes comunidades autónomas en donde nos reunimos con las autoridades locales y las cámaras de comercio para fomentar y fortalecer las relaciones entre la República Dominicana y el Reino de España.

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