Grants for Dominican innovators
More money needed to prevent teenage pregnancies
Teenage mothers fail to register children at birth
Franchise Fair set for 5 April
Onpeco calls for banning retail of bulk sold powdered milk
Women own 58% of small businesses in the DR
ANJE says small business hurts most from rising crime
Francisco Javier García says Odebrecht deal rejection is good for PLD
Recycled art exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art
Pamela Sued and Francisco Vasquez: hosts for Soberano Awards 2017
Santo Domingo book fair opens 20 April
Free music concert on 27 May at Plaza España 

Grants for Dominican innovators
35 entrepreneurs have received grants of US$6,000 each for developing small business as part of The Pitch RD innovation contest organized by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Mipymes (MICM). The projects ranged from farm development, arts and crafts and web page development. 
The 35 cutting edge business people were chosen from 75 initiatives that participated in events carried out at the Centro de Capacitación Capex in Santiago and the Pedro Henríquez Ureña University in Santo Domingo. 

Speaking for the organizers, Rubí Bretón explained that The Pitch RD is a way to connect innvoators with  mentors. Bretón is in charge of the company incubators department at the MICM. 

The funds for the prizes were donated by the government of Taiwan-China.

More money needed to prevent teenage pregnancies
The Dominican government spends millions in assisting pregnant teenagers, but according to experts, government programs does not provide sufficient resources to prevent these teens from getting pregnant in the first place. 

The Ministry of Public Health, together with the Progressing with Solidarity Program (Prosoli) of the Vice Presidency of the Republic, the National Statistics Office with the backing of the United Nations Population Fund presented on Wednesday, 1 March 2017, the results of the study entitled, “A Map of Teenage Pregnancies in the Dominican Republic” 

The estimated government investment in assisting pregnancies and maternity in teenagers is 33 times the investment in the National Plan to Prevent Pregnancy in Teenagers. The government spent RD$2.1 billion in 2015 (around US$44.7 million) to prevent pregnancies. The government spent RD$64 million that same year (US1.3 million) to prevent the pregnancies, despite data showing it is more cost-effective to prevent a pregnancy than to provide health services to pregnant teens. 

The analysis showed that of 26 countries studied, the Dominican Republic is fifth in percentage of teenagers admitting to have had sex with a man 10 years older than they, or 10 percent of all. 

The fertility rate among Dominican teenagers is 90 per 1,000, almost double the world average of 51 per 1,000.   

The teenage pregnancy rate in the Dominican Republic was 20.5% in 2015, making it one of five leaders in Latin America in teenage pregnancies. In 2015, of 34,453 natural births, c-sections and abortions carried out on the country 27.35% of these were to teenage girls, according to the Ministry of Public Health statistics department (MSP).  

The study shows that one of every four Dominican women (24%) between 20 and 49 years has had a child before her 18th birthday, and almost half (41%) before 20 years of age. Of those women 20 years older or younger, 13% reported to have lived with a man when she was 15 years or younger. The rate is even higher, or 38.4% for those 18 years.  

61.4% of the teenagers in the Dominican Republic who had become pregnant are grouped in the two lowest quintiles in terms of household income. Poverty is definitely an important marker for teenage pregnancy. Other causes are entering unions at a young age, gender inequality, human rights obstacles, violence, sexual harassment and difficulties in the access to family planning and sexual and reproductive health services. 

The overview of teenage pregnancies in the Dominican Republic was prepared to encourage authorities, civil society organizations and the general public to promote policies and prevention initiatives to reduce teenage pregnancy. 

The provinces with the highest teenage pregnancies are Monseñor Nouel (Bonao) in the central region and and María Trinidad Sánchez in the northern region with 35 and 32% respectively. Next are San Juan de la Maguana (southwest) and San José de Ocoa (south) with 31%. Also San Cristóbal (south), Duarte (northeast) with 30%. Santo Domingo presents 21%, as does Independencia (south).

Read more about teenage pregnancies:

Teenage mothers fail to register children at birth
The local representative of the United Nations Population Fund, Rosa Elcarte visited President Danilo Medina at the Presidential Palace on 2 March 2017 to present the new “Map of Teenage Pregnancies in the Dominican Republic.” 

During the visit she also highlighted the high percentage of teenage mothers that do not legally register their child at birth. This lack of legal identity later creates major problems for the child. 

Elcarte said that statistics show that most of the children that are not registered when born in public hospitals are born to teenage mothers. 85% of all births are registered in the country. Elcarte urged increased efforts at public hospitals to ensure the mothers register the birth prior to leaving the hospital. 

Franchise Fair set for 5 April
The Franchises Forum will take place 5 April 2017 at the Hotel Jaragua Renaissance in Santo Domingo. This is an opportunity to learn more about the franchise business and opportunities for the Dominican Republic. The event is sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce and the United States Embassy. There will be workshops on different business aspects – legal, financial, logistics. 

While promoting the event, in an interview at El Caribe, William Malamud, executive vice president of the American Chamber of Commerce and Robert Jones, commercial counsellor of the United States Embassy, said that US companies lead in the franchised companies operating in the Dominican Republic with 45% of these. Next are Dominican franchises with 40%. The others are European (most of these are Spanish), South American (most are Venezuelan), Canadian and from the rest of the world. These source 60% of input locally, creating a boom for local producers. Sector statistics show that there are 7,800 franchised businesses nationwide, with around 70,000 employees.

Most franchises have a presence in the Greater Santo Domingo (National District and Santo Domingo Province) with 44%. Santiago and the Cibao region follow with 21%. 19% are located in eastern region provinces and 16% in southern region provinces. 

The types of franchises in the Dominican market are broken down as: services 25%, commerce 22%, restaurants 20%, education 14%, personal care 9%, entertainment 5%, others 5%.

Onpeco calls for banning retail of bulk sold powdered milk
The National Observatory for the Defense of Consumer Rights (Onpeco) requested that the Ministry of Public Health intervene to put a stop retail sales of bulk-purchased powdered milk in a public document. 

The imported bulk milk is intended to be used in industrial processes, but it has come to light that the bulk milk product is being sold directly to consumers by retail stores in low income neighborhoods. The unscrupulous merchants who are retailing the product are putting consumer health at risk. Milk sold in bulk does not contain stabilizers required for long shelf life and the sale of this type of milk powder was banned several years ago.

Women own 58% of small businesses in the DR
The National Statistics Office (ONE) reports that in the Dominican Republic, 58% of all micro, small and medium-sized businesses (MSMEs) are owned by women. Most of these are owners of businesses that offer community, social or personal services. 

Alexandra Izquierdo, director of the ONE, said that the MSME services as concentrated in personal services, hotels and restaurants, transportation, storage, communication, personal care services, recreation and telecommunication services.

Izquierdo highlighted the MSMEs have a capacity to create 1.43 jobs per productive unit compared to 1.35 of large businesses.

ANJE says small business hurts most from rising crime
A recent study sponsored by the Young Entrepreneurs Association (ANJE) points out that micro, small and medium-sized business (MSMEs) are the most affected by reduced security in the Dominican Republic. The study was presented to the press by the president of ANJE, Eugene Rault Grullón and the executive director of the business organization, Karina Mancebo. 

The analysis, “Reflections on Citizen Insecurity and the Business Climate”, points to the high costs small business must assume for security and recovery after falling victim to a crime. 

As reported, small businesses spend up to RD$1.2 million (around US$25,200) per year in private security services. Repairing damage or re-stocking goods caused by crime cost on average RD$459,000 (around US$9,600) per year. 

75.5% of the businesses reported security has worsened in the past 12 months. 

The research was carried out by Deloitte RD. 

The president of ANJE, Eugene Rault Grullón expressed his concern over the findings of the study. He said that the security costs of a small company can represent around 3% of annual sales. When costs for recovering from crime are factored in, small business security costs are 6%, the study reveals. 

ANJE expressed concern over the “low level of response” from the authorities given the severity of the problem. He said that 44% of MSMEs who reported a crime did not receive an official response. In only 2.4% of the cases was the perpetrator of the crime arrested and subsequently convicted and sentenced. 

The study showed that 28.1% of the companies did not report crimes to the authorities, with 34.6% mentioning lack of confidence [in the authorities], 30.8% felt that it was a waste of time to report the theft, while 15.4% preferred to deal with the matter on their own. 

The crimes were mostly robbery (24.6%) and armed robbery (17.9%). 11.9% of the crimes were fraud, 11.2% forgery of documents, 10.4% damage to property, 7.5% bank fraud, 6% extortion, 5.2% IT crime, among others.

54.7% of the MSME owners reported that over the past year, at least one act of crime against their companies had been committed by persons within the business itself, predominantly by employees of the company.

To prepare the report, 128 multi-sector companies were sampled. The increase in insecurity affects the business climate, reduces company productivity, and results in a deterioration of the work environment and worker productivity. 

Eugene Rault Grullón said the study is relevant on the occasion of the 27 February 2017 Annual Report rendered by President Danilo Medina where he announced new measures for improving citizen safety.

Francisco Javier García says Odebrecht deal rejection is good for PLD
Politician Francisco Javier García Fernández said in a press release on Thursday, 2 March 2017, that from his perspective as member of the Political Committee of the ruling PLD, the decision of Judge José Alejandro Vargas rejecting the validation of the agreement between the Attorney General Office and Odebrecht is good for the government party (the PLD) because it shows not all is lost with the Dominican judiciary. The decision was announced on 2 March 2017. 

The Attorney General Office had agreed to accept Odebrecht’s offer of US$184 million over the eight years as compensation to the Dominican government for the bribery scandal. The amount was double the US$92 million in bribes the Brazilian construction company confessed in a New York City Court to have paid out to receive Dominican government contract work. 

57-year old García Fernández is a member of the deciding Political Committee of the PLD and has been campaign manager for Presidents Leonel Fernández and Danilo Medina. He is also an aspirant to the Presidency of the Republic himself. 

García said: “The opinion is the best demonstration that the PLD does not control the judiciary and that President Danilo Medina is not interested in controlling the judciary.” He said the Attorney General needs to continue working and that he has the independence and mandate to work on the case. 

In the opinion recently handed down, the presiding judge, José Alejandro Vargas,  rejected the procedure used to adjudicate the penalty, not the agreemend itself. 

García has been administrator of the National Lottery, president of the Dominican Petroleum Refinery, executive director of the Port Authority and Minister of Industry and Commerce during the Leonel Fernandez governments. 

He has also been Minister of Tourism during the Leonel Fernandez government (2008-2012) and the Medina governments (2012- present). 

He was the election campaign coordinator for Leonel Fernandez (1996, 2004 and 2008) and for Danilo Medina (2012).

Recycled art exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art
Rosario Rivera Bond presents “Splash,” at the Museum of Modern Art through mid April, a creative display of recycled art. Colores are literally “splashed” over white background. The abstrat paintings build bridges between tension and harmony.  The exhibition was curated by Cuban Rochi Llanesa.

Pamela Sued and Francisco Vasquez: hosts for Soberano Awards 2017
Pamela Sued and Francisco Vasquez were chosen to be the hosts for the 2017 Soberano Awards, the leading show business awards in the Dominican Republic. The show is produced by Edilenia Tactuk. The Soberano Awards are scheduled for Tuesday, 28 March 2017.  

The red carpet part of the show will be directed by TV producer José Enrique Pintor (Pinky). Carolina Aquino and Raeldo López will be the emcees of the red carpet show that takes place an hour before the awards ceremony. Others participating in the gala are Carlos Durán, who will be working the social media, and the Zona Chic will have Francisco Sanchís. Francisca Lachapel of Univision is coming as back up for the local hosts. 

Santo Domingo book fair opens 20 April
Paraguay is the guest country for the 20th International Santo Domingo Book Fair that will take place at the grounds of the Plaza de la Cultura from 20 April to 1 May 2017. 

The organizers say the Embassy of Paraguay is organizing a mission of 20 Paraguay authors, 700 titles and 2,500 books will be available for sale, coordinated by the Ministry of Culture of Paraguay. The Ministry of Culture of Paraguay is also sending a representation of Paraguay artists, folklorists and musicians. 

The 20th fair is also dedicated to the late Dominican writer, René del Risco Bermúdez.

Free music concert on 27 May at Plaza España 
Maestro Jose Antonio Molina who in 2017, will be conducting the Santo Domingo International Music Festival, announced the closing concert for the festival will take place at the Plaza España in the Colonial City and will be a free concert. For that Saturday, 27 May closing performance, concert trumpeter Arturo Sandoval and saxophonist Ed Calle will play “Caribbean Gems” music. The Festival will be held 18-27 May 2017. 

The Santo Domingo International Music Festival was created in 1997 by French orchestra director and pianist, Philippe Entremont. It has been held every two years since then. 

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