World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim, met with a small group of microfinance beneficiaries of Bancamía during a recent visit to Colombia
Ana Judith Martinez, who owns a small grocery shop, told Kim how she moved to Bogota from an impoverished rural town when she was 16. After working for years selling groceries, she struggled to set up her own store. A microfinance loan from Bancamía, an IFC client, helped Martinez set up her own business. Her business is now thriving and she been able to buy her apartment and support her family.
The meeting highlighted Bancamía, Colombia’s leading microfinance bank, and the role the private sector plays in supporting the country’s development agenda. Bancamía, which has been an IFC client since 2008, plays an essential part in these efforts. The bank now serves more than 785,000 clients—57 percent of whom are low-income women—with a net loan portfolio of more than $500 million. It has branches in 29 of Colombia’s 32 departments.
At the meeting, the bank presented its strategy to increase access to finance in Colombia’s rural areas. Bancamía is in the frontlines of Colombia’s efforts to boost financial inclusion in the rural sector. The bank has sharply increased loans in that segment from about 23,000 in 2008 to about 167,000 last year.
Financial inclusion in rural areas will be all the more important in the coming years as the country inches closer to a peace agreement that could end more than 50 years of armed conflict. Poverty in Colombia’s remote rural regions has helped fuel the conflict. As the agreement is expected to be finalized in 2016, boosting financial inclusion will be essential to ensure that new opportunities emerge for the population.
Bancamía highlighted its work to overcome a number of barriers to financial inclusion in rural communities. This includes educating people on finance. Bancamía is preparing to intensify its efforts in the rural sector to support Colombia’s peace agenda.