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Receiving the opportunity to establish a business and benefit her community, Milán Tapia’s experience demonstrates the positive impact of international policies and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) on the economic environment of the Dominican Republic. While economic success stories, such as Milán’s, are common throughout the Caribbean, only recently has the Dominican Republic, a nation historically ravaged by brutal military rule, social inequality, uninvited U.S. influence, and guerrilla warfare, witnessed a growth in economic stability. Traditionally, like many nation-states in the Caribbean basin, the Dominican Republic’s people have had little access to financial institutions that offer economic security to the community. Furthermore, while international policies and NGOs have sought to stimulate economic and social growth throughout the Caribbean regions, only recently have local banks and methods of secure saving been introduced to the Dominican Republic (Abbey, 2008, p. 373).

Today, although the country’s economy has become one of the fastest growing in the Caribbean region, deficiency rates within the Dominican Republic remain high with over 30% of its citizens living below the poverty line (USAID, 2002, para. 3). While disagreement exists over the true source of disparity among Dominican Republic citizens, certain indicators and influential variables have been identified. According to a report released by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), factors affecting poverty in the Dominican Republic include the large portion of people who have been excluded from recent economic growth, the uncertainty of the democratic and political institutions, the country’s continued abuse of human rights, the reality of conflict among social and governmental spheres, a large social investment gap in relation to education and social services, a lack of civilian security, and the inability to provide the necessary tools to incorporate the country into the global marketplace. Furthermore, such things as “a growing population, increased economic activity, competition for resources, inadequate environmental protection, and [the reality of] natural disasters,” have placed a significant burden on resources and areas of society that traditionally employ the Dominican poor (USAID, para. 5).