BBVA Microfinance Foundation’s Colombian MFI is the first local banking institution to ally with The Tent Partnership for Refugees (Tent), a worldwide partnership that promotes action from the private sector to improve the living conditions of millions of people who have been forced to leave their countries of origin. Colombia’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs puts the number of Venezuelans living in the country at over a million.
The announcement was made in New York, during the Latin American Business Summit on Refugees, organized by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Tent. Tent’s Executive Director, Gideon Maltz, declared: “We are delighted that Bancamía is joining this partnership and making this important commitment. Refugees are the most entrepreneurial people in the world and access to loans will enable them to develop their small businesses and contribute significantly to the Colombian economy.” The President of the Inter-American Development Bank, Luis Alberto Moreno, was present as well.
Hoy con Hamdi @hamdiulukaya y @TentOrg hablamos sobre el papel del sector privado para movilizar recursos y complementar medidas de apoyo a la crisis de migrantes y refugiados en nuestra región. pic.twitter.com/H1ev6oP5Yt
— Luis Alberto Moreno (@MorenoBID) September 23, 2019
Óscar Romero, Bancamía’s Vice-President of Risk Management, also spoke at the event, which coincided with the United Nations’ General Assembly, held annually in New York: “In Bancamía we have seen how a formal credit can trigger a major change for entrepreneurs, because it gives them the opportunity to improve their businesses, increase their earnings, and in this way raise their standard of living. This allows us to state that financial services are an effective mechanism for fighting poverty and inequality, which is why we want to extend our services to Venezuelan immigrants.”
The institution has set up a pilot program to serve Venezuelan refugees. In an initial phase, it will focus on the border areas (Cúcuta and Pamplona, in North Santander, and Bucaramanga and Girón, in Santander). As the Executive President of Bancamía, Miguel Ángel Charria, added: “In the first few months, we plan to serve 200 migrant Venezuelan entrepreneurs to learn about their real needs and discover the best ways of supporting them on their path towards entrepreneurship and involvement in society. We want to get them away from the circles of poverty, to make them part of Colombia’s economic and social development.” So far, several workshops on financial literacy have already been held to help them improve their living conditions with the support of a flagship financial institution such as Bancamía.