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RAMIRO ‘ROBIN’ PENAHERRERA – GROWING FLOWERS AND THE U.S.-ECUADOR RELATIONSHIPS

Born in Washington D.C to an Ecuadorian father and an American mother, Ramiro Penaherrera was brought up in the United States and Italy and has lived in Quito, Ecuador for the last thirty years.

Ramiro currently owns LatinFlor; a flower business based in Ecuador and is the founder and Director of The Memorial Day Flowers Foundation.

Ramiro first entered the flower industry in 1989 with three friends and together started LatinFlor – a small flower farm. It soon became clear that Ecuador was climatically and labor-wise, the best place in the world to grow flowers. The LatinFlor farm currently grows gypsophila (Baby’s Breath), delphinium, fragrant roses, and avocados.

Ramiro expressed his passion for flowers saying, “I like producing something tangible and creating employment. I was inspired by the work and results of two Ecuadorian flower pioneers: Mauricio Davalos and Miguel Mascaro. They both continue to show that you can have a viable business and treat your associates well.”

Currently, LatinFlor is trying to expand its market share in the United States. It has not been easy, says Ramiro – as the American per capita flower consumption is lower than the European market for example. Ramiro emphasized that about 25 percent of the flowers sold in the U.S. come from Ecuador. The country produces roses with long stems, large heads, and hardiness, which help local florists differentiate them from mass marketers.

Additionally, Ecuadorian flower farms crate 60,000 direct jobs and about 120,000 indirect jobs. That also has an impact in the United States, explains Ramiro. “Every floriculture job in Ecuador creates one in the U.S.; Miami floral importers, trucking companies, local wholesale, retail florists, etc.”

As part of his entrepreneurial spirit and love for Ecuador, Ramiro is an active supporter of the Embassy of Ecuador’s ongoing campaign Keep Trade Going, which aims to strengthen the bilateral trade relations between Ecuador and the United States.

“My partner Sophia Romero and I worked closely with the Ecuadorian Embassy in Washington D.C. to develop events to show U.S. Congressional Representatives and staffers the importance of bi-lateral trade with Ecuador,” says Ramiro. “This is quite personal for me as my grandfather was a FTC Commissioner during the Roosevelt and Truman administrations. A bi-lateral trade relationship is a fair way to guarantee economic, political and social stability for both our countries. You buy our roses; we buy your tractors, packing material, plants, and irrigation systems. Both countries benefit.”

As part of his work with his non-profit organization, The Memorial Day Flowers Foundation organized the donation and distribution of 120,000 roses at Arlington National Cemetery and 100,000 more roses across the U.S. during the last Memorial Day celebration.

Along with his partner Sophia Romero, Ramiro is the Co-Director of Flowers For Kids, a program that trains U.S. florists how to educate their local communities about the beauty and are of flowers. The program helps florists connect with their customers.

In addition to the many projects he manages, Ramiro says LatinFlor farm recently harvested coffee from their 100 trees. He and his wife also own The Ecuador Honey Co, which markets varietal honeys.