Banco BHD León Honors ‘Women Who Change the World’

Tuesday 23rd June 2015

Banco BHD León Honors 'Women Who Change the World'

Women play an increasingly important role in society in the Dominican Republic. Women now make up 70 percent of all university graduates in the country, and many households in the Dominican Republic are now headed by women — particularly in the lowest income bracket. GBA member BHD León, based in the Dominican Republic, recently set out to honor the women working to better their communities through the Premio Mujeres que Cambian el Mundo (Women Who Change the World Awards).

BHD conducted research on the country’s female economy and found that improving their quality of life and their family’s lives, economic independence and their own well-being were top priorities. These awards were intended to highlight the work of women who are achieving these feats while also serving their communities.

Banco BHD León Honors 'Women Who Change the World'
After a nationwide publicity campaign, 165 nominees were narrowed down to 53, who in turn were visited by 30 bank staff members. The staff members had volunteered to interview the women and make recommendations based on a strict set of criteria. Ten finalists were chosen and deliberated on by a 7-member jury made up of individuals not affiliated with the bank, save for BHD’s Executive Director Steven Puig.

Banco BHD León Honors 'Women Who Change the World'
The winner, Celida Marcelo Luis, was awarded a prize of 1 million pesos (more than US$22,000). Celida is a 40-year old widow with three children who started a fish farm in one of the poorest communities in the country. Her farm employs up to 19 women in the high season and supplies 22 families in the area with sustainably farmed protein at a low cost. She sells her fish to local restaurants at a slightly higher cost, and uses a portion of her profits to improve community infrastructure, upgrade local schools and increase the availability of sports programs. Celida, like all of the finalists, exhibits incredible leadership and an internal strength that breaks down social and economic barriers.

The awards are affiliated with BHD’s Mujer Mujer Women’s Market program, launched in February of this year. In just 5 months, BHD León’s Mujer Mujer product bundles that cater to women’s lifecycle needs have exceeded sales targets, with the bank on track to break even on its investment in year 2. While it is still early days, Mujer Mujer is enabling BHD León to position itself as the bank of choice for women in the Dominican Republic and as a global example for Women’s Market best practices.