The commitment of BBVA Microfinance Foundation officers, almost comparable with the enormous effort of the entrepreneurs they serve, and a social purpose that is integrated to all those who are part of the Group are just some of the learnings brought back by the ten students on BBVAMF’s DIME internship program, after spending four weeks in Latin America.
There, they were able to witness first-hand the impact that microfinance has on the lives of low-income entrepreneurs; examples of how, with opportunity, they can cope with difficulties. From beginning to end, these examples have been at the core of a unique experience which, in the words of the interns, has taught them to appreciate more what they have.
“It has reminded me of how fortunate I am and that there are effective ways of changing the lives of people who don’t have the same luck,” comments Andrés Díaz, who travelled to the Dominican Republic to learn about the work of Banco Adopem, the Foundation’s local institution. They all have stories about entrepreneurs who they will remember, real examples of how microloans can change lives.
Ana Hauyón, who was in Colombia, was struck by the hospitality of the entrepreneurs and the relationship they have with the officers: “Wherever we went they would ask us whether we would like a tinto [Colombian coffee]”. With Don Jorge, an entrepreneur she visited with his officer Joan, she shared “one of the best experiences in her life”: a motorbike ride to the countryside, to see the plot where he plants potatoes and looks after livestock. After an hour along dirt tracks and surrounded by mountains, she knew that he lived with his family, that his children are studying at a nearby church and that he dreams of winning the next municipal elections.
“Microfinance is more focused on qualitative than in quantitative factors, and puts on people in the center,” says Nuria Luri, who traveled to Peru. They all agree with her on this and also regarding the passion with which the on-site teams work, because they are aware that a good part of entrepreneurs’ future depends on the trust they have in the institution: “In Panama, I was amazed by the collateral they require: moral collaterals!” points out Blanca Carcasona.
Like her, the other nine “DIME youth” have come back with new goals for their futures: “I have seen commitment, passion and sacrifice, both on the part of entrepreneurs and co-workers, and that has energized me to look for the same thing in my work”, says Ana. The DIME grants have given Inés González hope: “On the one hand, I have seen a society that is increasingly more inclusive, that wants to improve, with everyone doing their part; and on the other, I have learned about a kind of finance on which I can fully focus my own efforts and where my academic work, my experience and my passions all converge.” Mikel Pedrosa, who was in Chile, goes further and concludes: “These entrepreneurs have given us a lesson on humanity, on how to overcome problems, on trying to improve day after day, on fighting to have a decent life and on achieving your goals.”