According to the latest Social Performance Report published by the BBVA Microfinance Foundation, Microserfin, its Panamanian MFI, maintains its focus on serving the country’s low-income entrepreneurs: in 2017, 72% of the 5,000 new clients are economically vulnerable. Out of all of them, 44% live in rural areas, where access to financial services is more difficult, just like access to healthcare and basic infrastructure.
Furthermore, 23% of the new clients possess primary education at best. Low levels of schooling highly determine their employability, making enterprising a viable option to generate income.
During the report’s presentation in Panama City, Dalys Morales, one of the 17,500 plus entrepreneurs served by Microserfin, has shared how she was able to tap her talent and creativity to prepare ceviche, different from how it is made traditionally.
Dalys employs five people and thanks to her business, she was able to put her two children to school; in fact, the eldest is about to graduate from the university.
Elías Guevara, from Veraguas province, has also shared his story and has narrated how his life has improved thanks to Microserfin’s support and the technical advice he received to boost his sundries shop, his main livelihood.
The event was atended by the Secretary for Micro and Small Enterprise (Ampyme), María Celia Dopeso López. According to her, “Microsefin is part of the ecosystem that constantly fosters microfinance on the national level, with the aim to stimulate and improve Panama’s economic growth”.
Gissele de Dominguez, president of Microserfin’s board of directors, emphasized the importance of providing financial support to entrepreneurs within the vulnerable sector, as well as the value of tracking their activities, “We have to be by our clients’ side every day, in such a way that we could provide tailored financial services, and putting technological developments within their reach, to help them improve their businesses”.
She also pointed out that Microserfin seeks to be a reference in the country, in terms of serving low-income entrepreneurs, “The loans disbursed grow based on how long the client has been working with us, and it increases substantially after their fourth year with us as their businesses prosper”.
The Foundation’s head for Impact Assessment and Strategic Development, Stephanie G. Van Gool highlighted in Panama that the most “vulnerable” type of client is usually female and works on the agrarian sector, and women above 60 years old. Additionally, she assured that “the Social Performance Report is a reflection of BBVAMF’s commitment to measure the progress of the entrepreneurs it serves, to better understand and improve its social impact”.
Currently, BBVAMF supports more than 2 million people who develop small businesses across five Latin American countries (Panama, Peru, Dominican Republic and Colombia), most of them women.