The Dominican Republic is acclaimed for its breathtaking beaches and warm waters - ripe for relaxation and sea-based adventures. But there's a whole lot more to this Caribbean nation besides sun, sand and sea. The Dominican Republic is also a hotspot for uplifting cultural adventures. For example, the tasty tourist experience offered by Chocal Chocolate Factory. We were delighted to hear from this female-owned, female-operated collective in response to our 'tell us your story’ initiative.
Located in hilly Palmar Grande, Chocal has been empowering women and boosting the local economy for thirteen years. Like we said, the Dominican Republic really does create chocolate that changes lives.
Back in 2007, thirty women from Palmar Grande decided to take their future into their own hands. To that end, they set up a women’s cooperative to cultivate, process, package and sell chocolate. With that vision - and with support from non-profit organisation Fundelosa - the Chocal Chocolate Factory was born.
Since its founding, the cooperative has empowered women by creating jobs and offering opportunities to learn new skills. It also enables young women to continue their education. At the time of writing twenty-two women work in the cooperative, with the wider community also benefiting from the income it generates.
Nature-lovers won’t want to miss trekking the plantation’s trails. Alongside serving up stunning landscapes, rambling through the cacao trees gives further insights into the full bean-to-bar process.
Forming strong relationships with tour operators is vital to the success of the cooperative. As Chocal’s representative told us, “our interaction with the tourism industry is very dynamic. The women have a great supportive relationship with tour operators.”
However, thanks to the women’s resolve, these challenges were easily overcome. Above all, the members were driven by a “willingness to learn and their desire to excel into businesswomen and change their quality of life”.
Similarly Luis Parra, the son of one of Chocal’s founders, left education for financial reasons. But thanks to the cooperative’s on-going success, he’s been able to restart his studies. As a result, Luis is now a Bachelor of Business Administration.
Luis’s case reveals Chocal’s cross-generational impact. “The women have involved their children in the project – the money they receive from the cooperation motivates their children to continue their studies, as well as share household expenses.”
Also for inspirational ideas explore our list of the best things to do in Dominican Republic.
Head here to tell us your inspirational news.