Like many pioneers, Vianel Rivas knows how hard choosing a new path can be. But she has done just that, creating an enterprise to produce organic fertilizer that benefits her community and the environment it depends on. “When you use industrial fertilizers instead of organic ones, you can fertilize a tree but you will also hurt the earth”, she explains.
In the middle of a global pandemic, the Global Alliance for Banking on Values – the network for the world’s leading values-based banks – talked with Vianel, and five other pioneers from across the globe, about her vision for a brighter future.
Why now? Vianel and projects like hers are one of thousands of initiatives financed by values-based banks all over the planet. These banks are changing the meaning of money, putting money in the service of people and the environment. Today, on Banking on Values Day 2020 (24th November), we are celebrating these extraordinary initiatives, the individuals who run them, and the banks that finance them. You can discover how and why this matters so much.
Vianel, how do organic fertilizers for agriculture differ from conventional ones?
Natural, rather than chemical products are used to produce organic fertilizers. In my case, I use earthworms or manure, among others.
Organic fertilizers contribute to regenerating the life of the soils and help us to produce quality food.
Organic fertilizer production also involves recycling. In my case, this involves using waste such as cow manure and leftover lettuce, watermelon, and bananas. I source this waste from the market and farms locally.
Using organic, rather than industrial fertilizers, means we can fertilize a tree, for example, without harming the earth. The organic product fertilizes the soil providing nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, as well as other minerals such as zinc, magnesium and selenium.
How did you get the idea to produce organic fertilizers?
My family participates in different manufacturing technology workshops. On one occasion, we heard on the radio that there was a workshop about organic compost in Santo Domingo and my cousin attended the course.
In fact, he started production first. But I liked what he was doing and was attracted to the sector.
I contacted a company where I hoped to sell our product. They tested it, liked it and I have been selling to them ever since. It is a very nice project, based on respect for the environment, which is the most important thing for the future.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
It has affected us a lot because right now I have problems finding a market. Recently I have not been able to sell, firstly due to a severe drought and more recently because of the pandemic which means I have a lot of stock prepared without anywhere for it to go.
However, I have continued working because the organic product needs to be maintened to stay alive.
How important is it for you to receive support from a values-based bank like Banfondesa?
It is important. I have a loan with Banfondesa and, although now I have difficulties, they have been very understanding. They have financed my business for 20 years, sharing my commitment.
What kind of future do you dream of for your local community?
This is a poor, anonymous area, and we work in a small sector on a family production scale. Rice and cattle are the main products produced by my community and takes a lot of effort to succeed. My brothers are rice farmers, tractor drivers and ranchers.
As a community, we would like to be able to develop something on a larger scale. That is difficult, but we are humble people with the determination to move forward, just as I have with my business. In the end we want more companies to know who we are and recognise the values and quality of our work and products.
Did you know that…
You can choose between being a customer of a conventional bank or a values-based bank.
Values-based banks deliver quality banking services, just like many other banks. But, unlike most banks, they deliberately focus on finance for entrepreneurs and positive projects in the real economy that benefit people and the environment – like Vianel and her sustainable agriculture business.
It’s time to do something for your future!
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