Jesus Obrero Cooperativa Offers Financial Services To Dominican Consulate In San Juan
With over 2 million Hispanics of Dominican origin in the United States, this community is the fifth largest Hispanic group in the nation The Dominican foreign-born population has increased by 33% in the last decade. While the Dominican population has settled in various places across the country, with areas of concentration in three major metropolitan areas: New York City; Newark-Jersey City, and Miami-Ft. Lauderdale. It is estimated that Puerto Rico is home to around 300,000 people of Dominican origin. No other segment of the Puerto Rico population has grown as quickly over the last four decades.
Cooperativa Jesus Obrero is CDFI-certified and Juntos Avanzamos-designated. It is also an active member of the Inclusiv Puerto Rico network. Founded in 1959, Jesus Obrero serves 9,000 members and holds $110 million in community owned assets. True to the cooperativa’s motto, “Siempre al frente” (Always on front), Jesus Obrero has always been at the forefront, identifying social and economic issues that affect the communities the cooperativa serves, leveraging its resources to address them.
In October 2021, Jesús Obrero made history by signing the first Memorandum of Understanding between a Dominican Consulate and a community development financial institution. This collaborative agreement is aimed at providing financial products and services to the Dominican community, offering financial education, and supporting the formation of cooperatives within various sectors of the community.
Jesús Obrero has always maintained a close relationship with the Dominican community and directed many of its outreach initiatives toward supporting this growing immigrant community, which has become an integral part of Puerto Rico's society, economy, and culture. It's estimated that more than 400,000 Dominican immigrants live and work in Puerto Rico, with many still unbanked or underbanked. For Aurelio Arroyo, the CEO of Jesús Obrero Cooperativa, reaching out to and serving the Dominican community isn't just a choice but a natural extension of the cooperative's mission.
"As everyone knows, immigration often has an unseen face, and no society improves when large segments remain outside the realm of financial and economic formality. Therefore, it is the duty of all cooperatives to bridge these gaps and enable everyone to reach their full potential while producing, saving, consuming, and generating wealth democratically and ethically," said Arroyo. Puerto Rico’s mainstream financial system has never paid attention to low-income consumers and in particular, the immigrant community. The local cooperativas have always been that entry point to access the asset building tools everyone needs to prosper and build a better life. People with undefined immigration status are most vulnerable to abuses and to being victims of crime. By providing them with access to comprehensive financial products and financial education, Jesús Obrero is keeping them safe and at the same time making its communities safer. Through this partnership with the Consulate of the Dominican Republic in Puerto Rico, and with the consent of the Public Corporation for the Supervision and Insurance of Financial Cooperatives -COSSEC- the local regulator, Jesús Obrero will make all our products such as loans, credit cards, car financing or other financial products available to Dominican nationals in Puerto Rico.” Jesús Obrero is currently in the process of becoming the primary financial institution for the Dominican Consulate and expects to offer account services to support all consular activities in Puerto Rico. To date, Jesús Obrero has provided loans to consular employees on the island, including personal and vehicle loans.
Cooperativa de Ahorro y Crédito Jesús Obrero stands as a shining example of financial empowerment and community outreach. Through its pioneering initiatives and collaborative efforts with the Dominican Consulate, Jesús Obrero is not just a financial institution; it's a catalyst for positive change and inclusivity. As it continues to expand its reach and services, it remains committed to its mission of reducing financial disparities, fostering economic formality, and ensuring that every individual, regardless of their background, can thrive and contribute to the prosperity of Puerto Rico.