BBVAMF women: entrepreneurs in a present with a future

Latin America is a place with great difficulties for women, especially in financial inclusion, development, participation in the labor market and education. In a region with 168 million people living in poverty, according to CEPAL figures, more than half being women, entrepreneurship becomes a key factor for progress and advancement.

This region has one of the highest rates of entrepreneurship; 17% of adults participate in some sort of venture. For many women, entrepreneurship is the only option to get ahead. In fact, in 2015, women were the main source of income in 32% of Latin American households.

Consequently, women are a priority for BBVA Microfinance Foundation. They represent 60% of the entrepreneurs it serves, reaching 83% in Fondo Esperanza (Hope Fund) and 67% in Banco Adopem, BBVAMF entities in Chile and Dominican Republic respectively.

María Paola is a clear example of how effort and dedication can change your life. This entrepreneur decided to enlist the help of Microserfin, the BBVAMF entity in Panama, to create her own business. With just a corn grinding machine, she began making tortillas and empanadas to sell. She has thus gradually made her way to becoming a businesswoman and managing diverse businesses.

“Women have a future with Microserfin. You can, because I could”; this is the call María Paola made to those women who are in a similar situation as she was in before starting her business. Thanks to the loans that the bank gave her, she was able, as she maintains “to progress more each day and to think big”. Her case is one of the more than 1 million women served by the Foundation, who strive each day to improve their future and that of their families.

The profile of entrepreneurs served by BBVAMF is usually that of owners of small businesses linked to their domestic activity, such as food stalls or dressmaking. In addition, in general, with 50% less capital investment than men, women obtain 20% higher earnings.

Sixty-eight percent of the women served by BBVAMF in 2016 through its entities in Colombia, Chile, Dominican Republic, Panama and Peru, managed to rise out of poverty. This is the most significant example of the daily work of female entrepreneurs, who with the Foundation’s help, not only move toward their goals but set new ones.

Advisors who take progress to the most vulnerable

Each of the 1.8 million entrepreneurs of BBVAMF receive direct support from the 8,000 workers, 4,000 of them advisors that on foot, by bus or motorbike, overcome any obstacle to get where their customers live. One example is Karen, an advisor for Fondo Esperanza that offers vulnerable people the opportunity to access the financial system each day. For her, this profession allows her to go home with the satisfaction of helping these people improve their lives.

Gabriela is one of the entrepreneurs she serves. She sells fast food and has managed to progress. Now her dream is to have her own company with which she can support her family. Thanks to the Foundation, this woman believes it is possible that she can achieve her goals and rise out of poverty, just as has been the case with 32% of entrepreneurs after having received support from BBVAMF for two years.