A better future for their children: the dream come true for women living on a Peruvian hilltop

To understand the reality of over 450,000 people served by the BBVA Microfinance Foundation in Peru, a visit to San Juan de Lurigancho, the most populous district in the country, is mandatory. Over 1.2 million people live in this district, many of them poor, and some very poor.

The CEO of BBVA, Carlos Torres, and the CEO of BBVAMF, Javier M. Flores, have made it to one of the hills in this town which can only be reached by a beaten earth track.

“You have to see this for yourself to understand it”, the Foundation’s CEO noted. It is precisely in a place like this where stories of many women shine, women who “struggle everyday to achieve better living conditions for their families and forge a future for their children”.

There they met the group “Neighbors together, forever”, formed in solidarity by seven enterprising women who improve their businesses thanks to group loans. Every so often, they get together to share news on their progress and plan their next steps. This enables Elisa to sell beauty products, Lourdes to weave garments, Carmen to sell bread, Melissa to sew… comforted in knowing that they are not alone when faced with the installments.

30,000 women like them engage in productive activities thanks to the Palabra de Mujer [Woman’s Word] programme run by Financiera Confianza, the BBVAMF institution in Peru. It has been granting group loans (USD350 on average) and training since 2008 so that vulnerable women can support their families with a business of their own. “Initiatives like this represent a real opportunity for poor and extremely poor women to access the financial system”, stated Carlos Torres after his visit.

Women’s empowerment is a necessary step to close the global gender gap. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, greater gender equality in the world would add 26% to global GDP and 34% to Latin America’s. BBVAMF is aware of this and serves over a million vulnerable women in the region with productive loans, financial education and training so that they can move forward with their businesses.  “They are an example of dignity and fortitude, and only need a small incentive to achieve great results”, comments Javier M. Flores. He added that “they have the enthusiasm, the skills and the endurance to get on, earning the respect of their families and their communities”. The figures back this up as well: in 2016, seven out of ten customers of the Foundation who escaped poverty were women.

The impact of BBVAMF, visible in the next generation

The work of the Foundation, which accompanies the effort of almost 2 million vulnerable people, has an impact on the following generations. With the support of Financiera Confianza, Elena Ayala has managed to put her four children through university. Today, one of her sons is a mathematician, another an engineer, one daughter is a microbiologist and the youngest has a degree in business administration.

Elena Ayala, entrepreneur of the BBVAMF,  proudly shows photos of her four graduated children

She was proud to tell this to Carlos Torres, who also met Armandina Villanera. This enterprising single mother paid for her two children’s education thanks to a sewing machine and the support of BBVAMF in Peru. The CEO accepted the seamstress’ invitation to sit down at the “wheels” of her machine while she explained how she makes 1,000 backpacks a week.

“The merit of these individuals lies in their hard work and their desire to prosper “, said Carlos Torres, impressed by the stories of the entrepreneurs he met. They are a tiny sample from the nearly half a million people who progress with their businesses and provide for their children with the support of BBVA Microfinance Foundation in Peru. “There is a lot more to do, but we receive impulse from the people we serve”, pointed out the CEO of the Foundation. Impulse such as the one heard from one of the entrepreneurs he visited, who assured him: “Nobody does what you do”.

Armandina, a Fundation’s entrepreneur, makes 1,000 bags per week