María Mercedes Gómez received this prestigious award presented by EY that recognizes the work of entrepreneurs. The award was granted to executive president of Bancamía for her work on behalf of low income entrepreneurs in Colombia through Responsible Productive Finance.
This eighth edition of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award includes a new category for ‘Woman Entrepreneur of the Year’.
María Mercedes Gómez, economist and Masters in Industrial Administration from the University of El Valle, in 2008 spearheaded the creation of Bancamía, the first bank with a social vocation in Colombia. In her seven years of work in the management of the bank, Bancamía has succeeded in offering a response to the financial inclusion of population segments that were outside the financial system and who were served by informal money-lenders at extremely high interest rates, which condemned them to an increasing spiral of poverty.
Bancamía has managed to reach over one million customers –all disadvantaged microentrepreneurs– whom it serves with a wide range of financial products and services to improve their quality of life. It has already had an impact on nearly four million low-income people.
“Today I have seen evidence that it is possible to reconcile social and economic profitability, generate development and be efficient without relinquishing the higher aim of creating more Responsible Productive Finance in Colombia for low-income entrepreneurs”, said María Mercedes Gómez, who cited the most gratifying aspect of her management as “seeing the impact of our work every minute, every hour and every day, starting with the reinforcement of our customers’ self-esteem. These people really appreciate and value the fact that someone believes in them”.
According to the social measurement of its impact, at the close of 2014, 79% of the customers it serves are in a condition of poverty or vulnerability, which proves that the resources are dedicated to providing financial products for those most in need. The bank delivers 984 credits every day and 123 for each working hour.
María Mercedes Gómez highlights the progress of the bank’s customers. “The annual growth rate in the sales of the microentrepreneurs whose development is supported by the Bank is 20%, which represents a 46% annual average increase in their profits. This means greater development in the size of the business, as assets are growing at an annual rate of 49% whereas wealth is doing so at 61%. And the best part is that after the second year with Bancamía, 33% of the customers rise out of financial poverty”.
The executive president of Bancamía has spent her career in organizations in both the public, private and the social sector of the economy, and has held positions such as Executive Manager of the National Association of Foundations for the Development of Microenterprise; Adviser on Productivity, Employment and Income to the Office of the President of the Republic of Colombia; Adviser on Economics and Industry in the Senate of the Republic of Colombia; Manager of Unicentro in Cali and Secretary of Education of the capital of El Valle.