The purpose of the Bottom Up Destination Recovery Initiative (Bottom Up) program would be nothing without its key figures: the business owners, NGOs, community leaders and individuals that work tirelessly to better their services and surrounding. Community efforts are essential in the recovery process – and for the program, this was no exception. During the implementation of Bottom Up, they collaborated with the team to explore economic development opportunities for their regions and participated in various program components, such as Destino Empresarial.
Since 2018, these individuals have forged initiatives, new businesses and collectives, and continue to give their all for the common good. From the first artisanal ice cream artisanal shop in Orocovis to a community safety council in Punta Santiago, Humacao, community resilience is what has driven the success of the program. These success stories are examples of community integration and determination, but most of all, the desire to see a prosperous and vibrant Puerto Rico for all.
Thanks to the seed funding granted by FPR during the incubation program for new businesses with our partners in INprende, this duo was able to make their idea of entrepreneurship a reality and become the first artisanal ice cream parlor in Orocovis.
Guided by the recipes of its creator Fransela Burgos, the couple hopes to transmit a story in each of its flavors. Both seek to encourage support for Puerto Rican farmers using their products in the making of ice cream. “For me, it’s very nice to be able to say [that part] of this final product came from our land,” says Reniet Ramírez, cofounder of the ice cream shop. Reniet and Fransela want to inspire other Orocoveños to develop their own business ideas to continue revitalizing the plaza.
The community-based project El Tenedor Social, founded by chefs Angel Cora and Marina Eve Martinez, joined forces in June 2020, with the mission to provide hot and fresh food for free to the communities of northeast Puerto Rico, while promoting the efficient use of resources. El Tenedor Social is a social program that offers support to individuals and families in crisis, emergency, poverty or other situations that affect their access to food. This program has impacted and changed the lives of families in municipalities such as Carolina, Loíza, Canóvanas, Rio Grande, Luquillo, Fajardo and Ceiba.
The neighborhood of Punta Santiago in Humacao continues to grow. Local groups working in the community have collaborated on restoration and rehabilitation projects aimed at revitalizing this area of production to make it a tourist destination, making a very positive contribution to the local economy. One of the community’s main assets is the strength of its fishing village, where dozens of fishermen go out in their boats every day at dawn in search of fresh fish, which mainly benefits the local restaurants in the area. In this area, we can see how the Bottom Up team through their initiatives has positively impacted revitalizing the economy after the passage of Hurricane Maria. An example of the team’s contribution is visible in the Humacao Natural Reserve, where solar lights, water cisterns and filters, upgraded common areas and the necessary materials are now available, thanks to the program. On the other hand, through their meetings and collaborations with community leaders, the creation and implementation of the Community Safety Council of Punta Santiago was achieved, an effort by leaders committed to the safety and well-being of their community.
A group of small business owners in the areas of gastronomy, hospitality, entertainment and transportation, joined forces with Bottom Up in 2019 to strengthen the tourism experience. By promoting the tourism market through the visitor economy, creating temporary marketing strategies and developing local tour guides to strengthen participating businesses, the Collective aims to attract more visitors to the western region of the island.