From beyond the Peruvian highlands down to the Spanish plateau, Quintín Quispe proved how far one could go when given a little bit of trust.
One day, the microfinance analyst who mentors him revealed that he had been invited to be a panelist in a forum as part of the BBVA Microfinance Foundation’s (BBVAMF) 10th Anniversary. He didn’t believe it at first, thinking that he was being tricked. At that moment, he was more preoccupied with his wife Paulina’s state of health, as she had been feeling indisposed for some time. Later on, when he was able to confirm the news, he welcomed it as if it were a “blessing”. As it turns out, only days ago, Paulina’s doctor recommended her to take a trip to help her recover from her ailing; so for him, the good tiding was completely and utterly premonitory.
This was not Quintín’s first time to see Europe. He already had the opportunity to visit Paris, although what made this trip special was that it gave him the chance to share his experience working with Financiera Confianza, the Foundation’s entity in Perú- one which he admitted truly changed his life.
Quintín’s reality is not very different from that of more than 2 billion adults worldwide who don’t have access to financial services. Until 2013, he couldn’t find any financial entity that could cover his financing needs. In most cases, the offices where he had to apply for loans are located far from his residence (accessible only through a dirt track), and a back and forth trip would mean losing precious working hours. Some institutions demanded too many requirements, and others could only lend him one fifth of what he needed. For these and for many other reasons, Quintín always recounts how Financiera Confianza is not only able to reach out to their clients “to the top of the mountain”, but also capacitates them to manage their loans and make their businesses grow.
This was how he explained it in Madrid, a city that impressed him when compared with the countryside where he lives. The wide streets and highways, the orderly appearance of the buildings, the variety of stores and eating places and most of all, the amount of tourists swarming around, stirred his emotions. Such sensations made him even more aware of how much his life has changed thanks to the small loans that adapt to the productive cycle of his activities, especially the agricultural one. Quintín travelled to Madrid firmly resolved to send this message through the panel: the financing vehicle must be adjustable to the real needs of the people both in terms of amount, as well as in payment conditions.
At the same time, he thought of how far he has gone in life, and not only by covering great distances. On one hand, three out of his four children have finished their studies at the university– the first generation in his family to receive higher education. In fact, one of them, Eliseo, is a microfinance analyst at Financiera Confianza. Inspired by its efforts, he has been working for the institution since 2015. On the other hand, Quintín was able to increase his sources of income. Aside from agriculture, he currently does carpentry and tends to a flock of sheep. What’s more, in the near future, he plans to manufacture clay tiles and blocks given that the soil can be found in abundance near his house.
Three out of his four children have finished their studies at the university– the first generation in his family to receive higher education
On the day of the event, Quintín and Paulina donned the typical attires of their community, normally reserved for special occasions. The lively colors and festive fringes of their garments made them stand out among the guests.
Quintín’s testimony as a panelist didn’t leave anyone indifferent: energetically, he asked for permission to stand up and immediately greeted everybody in the name of Peru. Then, he proudly presented himself in front of all the guests as a “simple countryman”. He shared how easy it was for him to receive a loan from Financiera Confianza, needing only his ID and a few details pertaining to his productive activities. He ended his speech by saying that before knowing about the entity, many other peasants and farmers like him have never had access to a credit, but now they are “working, improving their agricultural products and livestock, and are sending their children to school.” Suffice to say that rather than attending as an individual farmer and entrepreneur, he went up the stage in representation of his whole community. As the head of Comunidad de Cuyo Grande’s Housing Improvement, he couldn’t help but safeguard his neighbors’ interests as well as his own.
After the event, the Quispe couple had the opportunity to approach the Queen and take some pictures with her. They also took the chance to bestow her a beautiful quechua chalina (scarf), hand woven by Paulina.
In this regard, Quintín and Paulina’s sense of community shone through the gifts they handed out to the colleagues at BBVAMF: some received ocarina, a local wind musical instrument, and others were given a toucan-shaped brooch, all of them manufactured from the entrepreneur’s workshop. Before saying goodbye, he said, “Take these gifts so that you would never forget Quintín”. Truth be told, the gifts were unnecessary for those who met him. His presence and his stories were more than enough to make him and his visit absolutely memorable.