In Latin America, approximately 30% of the population have no access to healthcare due to the lack of financial resources and 21% fail to seek it due to geographical reasons. These are figures from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), part of theWorld Health Organization (WHO), that highlight one of the pre-existing issues in the region before the pandemic struck: to improve social protection, especially of people who live under vulnerable conditions.
To bridge this gap that mainly affects women because of their lower labor market participation, the BBVA Microfinance Foundation (BBVAMF), aside from offering loans to finance their small businesses, facilitates tailored and accessible insurance plans (with policies priced as low as 30 cents of a euro per month), with oncology coverage and health assistance, differentiated between urban and rural settings.
This is important, since early prevention and diagnosis of illnesses such as cancer are still insufficient in the region, according to a study by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). For this reason, the BBVA Microfinance Foundation offers these health assistance plans in Colombia and Panama, with family coverage as well. This service facilitates access to health professionals and includes checkups such as mammography, ultrasound, clinical tests, ambulance transfers and medical, psychological or legal orientation via telephone.
Furthermore, in Colombia, BBVAMF’s institution offers an oncological insurance which protects and supports women in case of breast or cervix cancer diagnosis. “This type of coverage is a fundamental safety net for the women entrepreneurs that we support, mostly for those who depend only on their businesses as their source of income.
This is the case for 40% of the women whom we serve in the country, given that they are heads of households with dependents under their care”, shared BBVAMF’s head of Women’s Empowerment, Laura Fernández Lord. By the end of 2020, around 20,000 women had taken out this insurance.
This coverage also exists in Peru within the Palabra de Mujer Program, which in December worked with 45,000 low-income women entrepreneurs who have accessed financial services not only through loans, but also with savings accounts, microinsurance and financial education.
35.8% of women in the trade sector in Latin America have no access to social protection
All this value proposition is more relevant given the latest data from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), which affirms that COVID-19 has put more risk on sectors that comprise around 57% of female employment (trade, manufacturing industries, tourism and domestic service).
In these segments, informality rates are higher and income and level of training, lower. Because of this, in the trade sector, for instance, only 35.8% of women pay social security contribution (ECLAC). This is the reality for the women entrepreneurs served by the BBVAMF in the five countries in the region, where 60% of them have businesses in the aforementioned sector.
“The insurance policies and health assistance that we have designed according to the reality of the women entrepreneurs that we serve and with the support of the insurance companies, signals an innovative step in our women’s empowerment strategy and in our commitment to facilitate access to basic services”, said BBVAMF’s head of Women’s Empowerment.
“This year, we will continue to work along these lines to protect the health and wellbeing of the nearly 1.5 million women we serve in Latin America, supporting them beyond the needs of their small businesses”, she concludes.