Digital transformation, social measurement and women: BBVA Microfinance Foundation’s Leadership Meeting key issues
Digital transformation, social measurement and women’s empowerment were key issues tackled during the BBVA Microfinance Foundation’s Leadership Meeting this year, gathering all of the Foundation and its entities’ areas in Santiago de Chile. For the first time, representatives of different international organizations took part in the Meeting: as Martin Spahr, senior operations officer of the IFC (WB Group), Natalia Gómez, regional director for Latin America at Bankable Frontiers Associates (BFA) and Luiza Carvalho, regional director for LAC at UN Women.
For a higher outreach and greater efficiency, the BBVA Microfinance Foundation invests in technology as a tool to advance development, while innovating in the working methodology of its 8,000 employees, positively contributing to improve our service to entrepreneurs. This digitalisation process makes the Foundation a sector reference, and as Martin Spahr said, “the majority of institutions in Latin America are commencing a digital stage.”
One of the Foundation’s objectives is to integrate the digital transformation in microfinance to foster financial inclusion and reach segments that are still out of reach for the formal financial sector. It establishes partnerships with fintechs who hold adequate top of the line solutions for microfinance, as well as with tech giants to leverage their capacity by applying cloud solutions, and to use Big Data to create products and services adapted to the needs of entrepreneurs, among other uses. According to Spahr, “for microfinance institutions, data has become another relevant asset.”
Data has become another relevant asset for microfinance institutions”
Another priority is the evaluation of the entrepreneurs’ progress overtime: the improvement of their businesses, their education, their homes, etc… An evaluation that is also a management tool. BFA’s regional director for Latin America, Natalia Gómez, highlighted the importance of understanding the complexity of the variables used, interconnected as they are, to produce a valuable assessment. BBVAMF started publishing the findings of its own measurement system, and has since been sharing it in international microfinance forums. The 2017 edition of the Foundation’s Social Performance is available to the public, and has been launched at the closing ceremony of the BBVAMF’s Leadership Meeting.
The BBVA Microfinance Foundation and its commitment to women
“An important part of the progress in gender equality is due to collective awareness; it’s not a women’s battle, it’s a society’s struggle.” With these words, UN Women’s regional director for LAC, Luiza Carvalho, inaugurated the second and final day of the Meeting. During her speech which addressed women’s situation and UN Women’s efforts in the region, the representative of the Foundation’s strategic partner discussed the importance of closing the gender gap.
An important part of the progress in gender equality is due to collective awareness; it’s not a women’s battle, it’s a society’s struggle”
According to Luiza Carvalho, even though women’s educational levels have surpassed that of men’s, we still need to push in many other aspects, such as financial inclusion. She says that, “access to financial services is crucial for poverty eradication and women’s empowerment.” This is another objective for the BBVA Microfinance Foundation, who serves more than a million women with financial products and services tailored to their needs, together with training, so they can learn how to best invest in their businesses and save for their future and their children’s.
This year’s Leadership Meeting sets the path for the Foundation and its MFIs for the coming years. A roadmap where technology is a fundamental ally to reach more people and serve them more efficiently; one that also points towards a horizon which gave rise to the Foundation, and marked its ultimate purpose: to end poverty leaving no one behind.