Norma lives in Soacha, a town 20 kms. from Bogota, one of the most marginal areas in the country and one that has received the highest number of displaced victims of the Colombian conflict. 16 years ago she opened a playschool in her own home. She started with a small group of children and now she looks after around 50 infants, who are between two and five years old. This playschool is a refuge for these tiny tots, many of whom are victims of the armed conflict in Colombia, members of one-parent families or orphans in the process of being adopted. They spend most of the day there: they have breakfast, lunch, they learn to read and to enjoy a normal childhood. For many of these children, this is a basic right that is difficult to experience.
Poverty, an unsafe environment and violence are the scourges of this town, where the United Nations runs a large number of development projects. But Norma decided to challenge the lack of opportunities and to start up something that goes beyond a mere business. The microloans she has received from Bancamía have enabled her to employ five people in the playschool and to enlarge her house, which now has enough space for these children to feel at home.
Norma’s two children view her as a role model and thanks to her have been able to continue higher education. The elder, Brandon, combines his tertiary education in Sports Science with the sports clothing business he has set up, like his mother, with support from Bancamía. The younger, Dylan, is finishing high school. All three are living proof that Bancamía’s work is for the long term, improving entrepreneurs’ lives now and in the future for new generations.
Norma wants to consolidate her school and take in older children, up to twelve years old, to guarantee they get at least one meal a day. She wants as many children as possible to get away from hostile environments. At her playschool she is achieving it. That is what she told the President of BBVA, Francisco González, when he visited several entrepreneurs on his trip to Colombia.