April 21, 2016

The almojábana: A Cuestecitas tradition

The almojábana is a delicious pastry based on corn, milk, cheese, and lemon. In the district of Cuestecitas, Albania, it is a long-held tradition.
For three generations, the Díaz family has made almojábanas, enjoying them and then starting to sell them on local roadways. For over 20 years, these sisters have sold almojábanas, something they hold as more than just a job and more as a tribute to their parents, grandparents, and the preservation of a local tradition.
Since 2013, Cerrejón and our Foundation for Institutional Strengthening have offered a Skills Building Program for Business Venture and Business Development, with nine production units totalling over 100 people. The aim of this program is to create a business culture and organization to strengthen employability in the region, contributing to the generation of skills, tools, and abilities amongst beneficiaries.
Lilia Margarita and María Eugenia, together with their partner Cindy Fuentes, have been selling their almojábanas in the company’s bus lots, which they feel has been an enriching experience. “At Cerrejón we learned to value our work more because we realized that we could sell a quality product that people would like more and from which we could get a better return in order to support our families better,” stated María Eugenia.
Thanks to this opportunity, the Díaz sisters have fewer concerns over money. They have improved their standard of living and further consolidated their business, even increasing sales by 50% a month!
One regular buyer is Álvaro Soto, a 27-year veteran at Cerrejón, who explained, “I buy the almojábanas and cakes because they taste really good and my four kids love them. This is an important contribution to the development of Cuestecitas. I see that they have improved their presentation and their product packaging.”
These almojábana makers received company support in 2015 to participate in various regional shows such as Expoguajira, the Cerrejón Safety Fair, the Book Fair, the Mushaisha Business Venture Congress, the Francisco El Hombre Festival, and other local festivals.

“I love the almojábanas. I buy them almost every day, not just because I like them but because I already know that these ladies offer an excellent product — a quality almojábana. Most nights, a tasty almojábana is my supper,” stated Francisco Castaño, a Cerrejón contractor and a faithful client of these pastry-makers.

At Cerrejón we continue to forge partnerships to strengthen the skills and abilities of communities with the goal of promoting the sustainable development of La Guajira. “I want to give my heartfelt thanks to the company for the opportunity they gave us and for having taught us so many things we didn’t know. We are here now because of their help, and we are eager to continue progressing and be successful,” said Lilia Margarita emotionally.