There was much expectation among the guests at the Forum on Financial Inclusion and Development, celebrating BBVA Microfinance Foundation’s (BBVAMF) 10th anniversary. The event, presided by H.M. the Queen, opened a debate on the steps needed to make the world a fairer place, where women’s role is essential.
“If there is one message that has come out loud and clear it is that when they operate under the same conditions, women can produce 30% more profitability, and that is amazing”, commented Sergio Martín, director and presenter of “Los desayunos de TVE”, Spanish TV’s leading breakfast program. “With lots of foundations like this one, the world would be a little better. We women would achieve remarkable rates of equality”, added Esther Esteban, another journalist and political commentator. “I’ve come because I don’t want to miss anything”, said Mercedes Azpiroz, from Magallanes Value Investors.
The words of three women entrepreneurs, who are part of the million plus women served by the Foundation, were backed up by the expert opinion of María Noel Vaeza, Programs Director of UN Women. They all defended their ability to contribute to society and drive their country’s economies. “I believe that the work done by the Foundation to empower women should be better known in Spain so that people know that this effort is being made”, sentenced Paloma Páramo, from ICXCI (Innovation Center for Collaborative Intelligence).
Self-critically, Esther Esteban also referred to the role of the media: “It is a pity that we are so taken up with petty political self-contemplation in this country, to such a degree that we don’t realize how great things come out of small stories”.
The keys to achieving a fairer world
But, how to put an end to inequality? What is the missing piece that makes the puzzle fit together? Mon González Ferrán, adviser of the Secretary of State for Cooperation & Ibero-America’s office, stressed: “I believe that there is an important job to be done, in which the public and private sectors should go hand in hand”.
“There are many routes”, continued Sergio Martín, as he considered some of the issues that came up during the Forum. “On one hand, we have to try to break the momentum of inequality in access to technology. On another, since we are dealing with a banking institution, it is not just about microcredits, but all the resources that can be made available. There are millions of people without access to loans, insurance, subsidies…”
The power of entrepreneurs
Support for talent, as Rebeca Grynspan made clear during her intervention at the high-level panel, is another necessary plank for putting an end to inequality. One only had to listen to the four BBVAMF entrepreneurs to understand exactly what the Ibero-American General Secretary meant.
Their stories, which transported the public to a remote spot in Chile, to the highlands of Peru, to an organic banana plantation in the Dominican Republic and to Soacha, one of the municipalities that has suffered most from the Colombian post-conflict, put a voice and a face to the numbers. “I very much like it when we see examples of cases through the people themselves and they express their real feelings. You can see that they are happy, people who have been able to find a focus in their lives”, pointed out the journalist Gloria Lomana. “In small economies, in micro-loans, in developing countries, that is where we can find solutions to small demands and initiatives; then you can start building from that”, she concluded.
Their life stories didn’t leave anybody indifferent. Pedro Carreño, the presenter and editor of the weekend Spanish national TV news program, said that he felt moved as he listened to them, particularly to Quintín: “The story of the Peruvian peasant (and I say “peasant” intentionally) has touched all of us here. It was so direct, so real”.
There is still a lot of work left to do so that more stories like his and like those of Rosa, Diana and Norma can be told. “Banks should be for everyone”, María Escario firmly declared. Esther Esteban concluded: “I would exchange covering the Council of Ministers any day for just one minute with one of these people, and their stories”.