As Elliot Ortiz Vasquez drives from his company’s farm in Miches, Dominican Republic to its packing house in Bani to finalize paperwork for a shipment of sweet potatoes destined for Canada, he is happy with the decision he and his partner made to go global with their produce business. In 2014 Eliot Ortiz and his partner Ysidra Vasquez Sanchez, his mother, decided to diversify Ely Import R Export SRL sales through exporting. They believed that while blood, sweat and tears was involved in the process the anticipated future sales made it worthwhile for the company they started in 2012.
In December 2017, Eliot received an email from Canadian importer Kiskadee who had found Ely Import through TFO Canada’s online supplier database while searching for a supplier of sweet potatoes and the rest is history! In January 2018 the company’s first export sales to Canada came from this connection – to date the company has exported 450 boxes of sweet potatoes as well as mangoes, avocadoes and hot peppers. The relationship between both companies grew beyond just supplying goods. Eliot receives continuous advice and mentoring on product labelling and appearance, product classification, and most importantly market traceability.
The relationship enhanced Eliot’s knowledge of food regulations and in turn increased the quality of his products. Eliot’s success benefits not only the company but also several communities that are a part of its supply chain.
The company has 30 employees, of which 20 are women, and also has a network of farmers across the island that supply it with different fruits and vegetables. The network includes avocadoes suppliers from farms in Ocao, Azua and Barahona; mangoes from farms near Bani and Ocoa; hot peppers from farms in Iqua and San Francisco; and from the company’s farm in breadfruit, yams, sweet potatoes and cocoa beans among others. The company’s philosophy is to hire persons in the community they operate, train them (especially youths), provides end of year bonuses and provide employment opportunities for youths. This model works for the farmers as the company guarantees sales of their crops.
Eliot is thrilled with his export experience to date. “As a producer we are always seeking new international markets for our produce… CEI-RD and TFO Canada provided our company with up-to-date Canadian market access information which gave our company a competitive advantage. The trade missions and B2B meetings we participated in propelled us to continuously pursue the Canadian market.”
You can learn more about Eliot and his company by watching this video.