A secluded territory does not stop Bancamía from building a branch office, as long as there are entrepreneurs longing for an opportunity. The BBVA Microfinance Foundation’s MFI in Colombia proved this in Mitú- capital of Vaupés-, located in the southeastern part of Colombia, just along the frontier with Brazil. This department is covered by forest, and the majority of its population consists of indigenous communities. In 2013, Bancamía was the first private financial institution that opened an office with seven employees; among them are, credit officers, advisers, cashiers, and a manager, all of them, Vaupés natives.
Ángela Benavides is one of these employees: she’s 23 years old and has been part of the team since four years ago. She and her family, comprised of her parents and two siblings used to live in Villavicencio. Driven by the search of new employment opportunities, they decided to transfer to Mitú.
76% of Bancamía’s sales force have been promoted (as of December 2017)
Ángela lost no time and enrolled in a course on Technical Accounting, which opened doors for her to start a career in the MFI. “I used to see Bancamía branches in Villavicencio and when I arrived at Mitú, I noticed the institution again. And when I found out that they were accepting CVs, I sent mine as a Sena intern (Sena is a public entity that grants free training to Colombians, which includes technical, technological and other complementary programs). Thanks to this opportunity, I was able to start my career planning program in Bancamía: I started an intern, then I got promoted to cashier, then as a credit officer, and now I’m an executive for productive development (EDP).”
Like Ángela, by the end of 2017, 76% of Bancamía’s sales force were promoted and have made progress within the institution.
They are the soul of the team. Everyday, development executives start their work at 7:30 am by planning the day, followed by consultation of defaulted loans, meetings with managers, phone calls and client visits. And it is during these visits where they make trips in the city and to rural areas to serve more than 650 microentrepreneurs 400 of which belong to 27 different indigenous groups. They are mostly farmers who cultivate yucca, bananas and pineapples. In the afternoon, they go back to the office to attend the credit committee and prepare the next day’s agenda- an agenda that not only holds a to-do list, but also keeps track of the dreams and goals of the entrepreneurs they serve.
This is why personal interaction is very important, and along with the institution’s mission, Ángela finds her motivation to give her best, and work hard for the country’s microentrepreneurs, “I have a portfolio of 326 credit clients; people who come from different ethnic groups. Working with them is a very good experience; what I like the most is our personal contact, which makes the service we give a personalized one.”
She says that ever since she joined Bancamía, her goal has always been clear. This is why when she finished her technical training, she decided to continue her studies, and is currently enrolled in a Business Administration degree. “I am motivated by the opportunity to grow professionally because ever since I started my internship, my goal has always been to move higher and learn from all the different positions I get assigned to. I want to become a branch manager someday.”
With this eagerness to excel, it’s hard to imagine Ángela and others like her not reaching their ambitions. No far-off place or thick forest could hinder anybody with this determination to make their dreams come true.