The challenges of financial inclusion: technological challenges and the role of women in the economy were the main topics addressed in the Forum on Financial Inclusion and Development organized by the BBVA Microfinance Foundation, Chaired by Her Majesty the Queen.
During her address, Queen Letizia paid tribute to BBVA Microfinance Foundation’s determination to promote development in a region as unequal as Latin America and its transformative role in the lives of almost two million vulnerable individuals, with impact on the second generation. “There is something in common among all of them: the individual drive, the eagerness to improve, the desire to achieve a better life. And in most cases, behind all that energy is the profound longing for progress for their children”, said the Queen. “This is the breakthrough that marks the difference in the economic and social reality of a country”, she added.
“This is the breakthrough that marks the difference in the economic and social reality of a country”
Francisco González also made reference to the progress of these entrepreneurs, of which he learnt first-hand during a recent trip to Colombia. “I was impressed by the drive, effort and enthusiasm that the entrepreneurs put in to build a better life for themselves and for their families,” said BBVA’s Group Executive Chairman.
That is why he advocated for the need to keep working towards financial inclusion, in a world where 2 billion people still don’t have a bank account. “The lack of access to financial services limits the development opportunities and hinders the social inclusion of more vulnerable people,” he said. Francisco González added that “77% of the people that managed to pull out of poverty do so through entrepreneurial initiative, with financial exclusion as the key obstacle they had to overcome.”
Precisely, as Economics Nobel Prize Winner Angus Deaton noted during the keynote speech of the Forum, inequality is an “intrinsic part of progress, because not everyone benefits from it in the same manner.” As a solution to this issue, he emphasized the importance of knowledge: “One of the best ways to help the disadvantaged is to share useful knowledge with them: both the essential knowledge and the know-how of businesses and entrepreneurs.”
Norma Viviana Ordóñez, Quintín Quispe, Diana Céspedes and Rosa Norambuena travelled to Spain from Colombia, Peru, Dominican Republic and Chile to share their testimonials about how the Foundation’s support was pivotal for their efforts to build their businesses and improve their lives and the lives of those around them. “The good thing about this institution is that they don’t just lend me the money. They also teach me how to use it well,” said Diana, banana farmer and fisherwoman, and entrepreneur from the BBVA Microfinance Foundation’s entity in Dominican Republic. This project allows her to provide for her family and send her children to school.
The stories of these entrepreneurs, included in BBVAMF’s Social Performance Report 2016, entitled Measuring What Really Matters, are a reflection of the Foundation’s work, which since its creation in 2007 has distributed more than $8.2 billion in productive loans. Currently, the Foundation supports over 1.8 million people; 77% of them are vulnerable and 60% are women. This effort has been recognized by top international bodies such as the United Nations, for its contribution to the Sustainable Development Objectives. This report, which measures the social and economic progress of the entrepreneurs it supports, will be presented in the coming months in Peru, Colombia and Chile.
To cap off the Forum on Financial Inclusion and Development, a panel discussion was hosted to focus on the challenges of financial inclusion: technology and the role of women in the economy, and their impact in reducing poverty. Moderated by Claudio González-Vega, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the BBVA Microfinance Foundation, panel speakers included Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of the Ibero-American General Secretariat; Fernando García Casas, Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation and for Ibero-America; María Noel Vaeza, from UN Women; Gema Sacristán, from the Inter-American Development Bank, and Matthew Saal, from the World Bank.