Making Sweets, Building a Better Future
“We were caught in the middle. It was terrible. Some stayed. Some of us left,” says Rosely Robledo, 29, remembering seven years earlier when her hometown in the Chocó Department was caught amidst a tug of war between armed groups. Rosely left everything behind and became one of the 5.2 million Colombians displaced by the violence. With little education and no support system, she struggled to find work. As an Afro-Colombian woman, she faced
the added challenge of discrimination.
After moving north to Barranquilla, she learned about a work cooperative that was being created with the support of PADF, USAID, and a local non-profit group called Organización Social de Comunidades Negras Angela Davis. The cooperative would not only give Rosely and 120 other women the possibility to work, but also a financial stake in the company. Two years since its founding, the Coopradal cooperative has built a small factory that produces popular sweets which are later sold under the cooperative’s own Dulafros brand to local supermarkets or on the streets by coop members. Many members now agree that the project has improved working conditions and increased incomes.
“They have realized that they are businesswomen and owners of the company,” says María Herrera Miranda, Coopradal’s legal representative.
“They are also starting to think that this could eventually help the future of their own children.” Rosely agrees. “As a result of this work,” she says, “ my children will be able to go to school. "I also hope to study one day".