What in the Dominican Republic is known as yaniqueque has several references and there are many ways of consuming it. In the beginning it was just a round disc of fried wheat flour.
For decades it has been part of the Dominican food culture. There is no exact date, but more than four decades have passed since, probably due to the exploitation of tourism in the country, this food began to be stuffed with meats, cheese, vegetables, ham and eggs.
What is irrefutable is that very few Dominicans can resist trying it in some of its presentations. Its high demand among the population, mainly among those who are looking for a quick and easy to carry or eat in an informal environment, has generated a series of businesses that provide daily sustenance to thousands of Dominicans.
The yaniqueque as a livelihood
This business has become a very popular micro-enterprise, generating jobs and resources for thousands of families, but which, in addition, does not require a high investment to set up.
Statistics show that there is a high rate of informality in the Dominican labor market. According to the Central Bank, of the 4,200,000 jobs that exist, more than 2,150,000 are in the informal sector, that is, 51%. One of the main concerns is that they do not receive the labor benefits granted by the Dominican Social Security System to formalized workers.
According to statistics from official organizations such as the National Council for the Promotion and Support of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (Promipyme) and Banco Adopem, around 20% of informal jobs, that is, 430,000 workers, are in the service sector, a sector that includes fast food outlets.
The newspaper elDinero wanted to take a closer look at some of the main players in this sector. On this occasion, the protagonist is Chabela, a single mother who decided to start this business 11 years ago. Despite the obstacles she had to overcome in the first months, she managed to position her small business on Charles Sumner Avenue in the Los Praditos sector of the National District.
She is a woman fighter, completely dedicated to the work with which she has supported her family alone and that due to the little help she has, she only works until 12 noon. Until that time, Elízabeth Ramos, Chabela’s real name, sells an average of 400 fillings or empanadas, whose prices depend on the ingredients contained in their preparation.
She explains that, with two ingredients, which could be chicken and cheese, the product costs RD$40.00; with three ingredients its price goes up to RD$50 and RD$60, although it can reach RD$75 for a complete filling, that is, the one containing chicken, beef, egg, ham and cheese. The cheapest one costs RD$25 with only one ingredient.
To make her products and so that she never lacks supplies, Chabela buys in bulk: 200 pounds of chicken breast at RD$80 each, equivalent to RD$16,000; for 200 pounds of beef at RD$95, she must pay RD$19,000; 600 eggs, which cost RD$5.50 each, she pays RD$3,300.
Ramos sells around 400 fillings for an average price of RD$40, equivalent to RD$16,000 per day, totaling RD$384,000 per month. To this must be added the income from the sale of juices, which cost RD$30 and RD$40 and his daily sales reach eight gallons of juices, that is, about 100 glasses in total. This represents an income of RD$3,500 to RD$4,000 for six days a week, that is, a gross sale of RD$91,000 pesos per month. Between the juices and the yaniqueques, this microenterprise generates around RD$475,000 each month.
Chabela pays RD$37,000 pesos a month in salaries, and invests RD$89,700 pesos a month in flour, which added to the expenses of other inputs such as oils, meats and seasonings, amounts to RD$260,000 pesos. The net profits of this small business reach RD$215,000 per month, which represents 45%.
Ramos, plans to increase the price of his “rellenos” starting next September 30, due to the rise of all the products he uses in his business. “Everything is more expensive. The pound of chicken that I used to buy at RD$60 and RD$65 now costs RD$80; beef is at RD$95 a pound, ketchup is very expensive, the six-pound bar of cheese, which cost RD$550, now costs RD$600, that is, $50 pesos more expensive. Everything is going through the roof,” says Chabela.
Elízabeth Ramos maintains that the products she uses are of high quality because for her that is very important. “I always try to buy the best. If it’s chicken, I only buy breast and the ground beef has to be the best there is; the vegetables are organic and always fresh,” she said.