BBVA chairman visits entrepreneurs supported by BBVAMF, global leader in contribution to development in Latin America

The 2030 Agenda defines quality education as key to abandon poverty and achieve socioeconomic progress for the student and their family, as well as to positively impact their communities (SDG 4). During the pandemic, most countries declared temporary closure for schools, affecting students worldwide, according to the United Nations. Currently, Latin America and the Caribbean are going through an “unprecedented educational crisis”, as reported by a recent World Bank report. 

BBVA chairman Carlos Torres Vila once more acknowledged BBVAMF’s work with low-income communities at the ground level.

On this occasion, he has visited entrepreneurs supported by Financiera Cofianza in Peru. And in Colombia, he has handed the Transformando Realidades scholarships, an initiative of BBVA Colombia and Bancamía (BBVAMF’s local institution) to help students from low-income families of entrepreneurs access a college degree. 

Fighting for a better life for their children is one of the main incentives for most of the 2.7 million entrepreneurs supported by the BBVAMF in five Latin American countries, of whom 59% are women and 35% have primary education at best (national data shows that in Colombia, 43% of the female population have primary education at best).

7 out of 10 entrepreneurs who abandon poverty and are accompanied by the Foundation are women. Investing in them not only contributes to closing the gender gap, but also reduces poverty. According to Carlos Torres Vila, “it’s an essential condition if we want to reach a truly sustainable and inclusive economic and social development for all.”

Recent data from the OECD show that BBVAMF is the international leader in contribution to development in the region and the top global contributor to gender equality initiatives in the world. 

Entrepreneurs progress in Peru, in spite of the pandemic 

In Peru the BBVAMF supports more than 725,000 people through its institution, Financiera Confianza, out of whom 53% are women.

Isabel Rivero and María del Carmen Trejo are two of the female entrepreneurs who were able to meet Carlos Torres Vila and talk to him about their hopes and projects. Isabel is a primary school teacher and at the same time sells handcrafts. Revenues from her business have allowed her to adapt her home to be able to give online classes.

However, for her, the most important investment she has undertaken has to do with her youngest son’s education. It’s a dream come true for Isabel to be able to pay for his studies in a private college.


Isabel Rivero, Iris Eliana Salazar y and other entrepreneurs of the Palabra de Mujer program (Financiera Confianza) chat with Carlos Torres Vila

María del Carmen is also a fighter in her own way: at 55 years old, she doesn’t tire of dreaming about her progress and that of her family’s. With her anticuchos (beef heart skewers)  eatery was able to give her youngest son the education that the elder ones weren’t able to receive. “He’s now studying international commerce”, she excitedly shares.

Tuvo que reinventarse con la pandemia. Según le contó a Carlos Torres Vila durante su visita, “mi hijo siempre me dijo que abriera mi local y yo le decía que no, que vendiendo como ambulante ganaba más dinero. Pero la pandemia me obligó y aquí estoy, muy contenta y agradecida, porque mi negocio está creciendo”.

She also had to reinvent her business during the pandemic. According to what she recounted to Carlos Torres, “My son always encouraged me to open my own eatery and I said ‘no, I earned more by peddling.’ But then the pandemic forced me to change my mind so here I am, very happy and thankful, because my business is growing.”

Knowing them first hand is “a life lesson”. Carlos Torres Vila, BBVA chairman

BBVA chairman also met Iris Salazar, a 22-year old entrepreneur who sells beauty products and teaches private English classes. “(I would do) whatever needs to be done to progress”, she said. Her goal is to finish her studies as an English teacher and have a space for her to keep developing her buy and sell business.

Wilder Osorio is also an entrepreneur. He migrated to Lima from his native city when he was 16 years old to become a garment factory worker. At 27, he now has his own business that employs up to 8 people.

All of them were able to share their future plans with Carlos Torres Vila, who remarked that knowing them personally is a “life lesson” because they are able to progress in complex environments, especially during the pandemic and that “They deserve an opportunity and all the support they can get.”

Five low-income students from Colombia will be able to access college education thanks to the Transformando Realidades scholarship

After his visit in Peru, BBVA chairman flew to Colombia to present the Transformando Realidades scholarships that will support five students who are children of BBVAMF entrepreneurs, to achieve their dreams of accessing a college degree.

For Carlos Torres Vila, education “is key for people’s advancement and for the society’s development. It drives growth, it is a door to opportunities and it is a force, perhaps the most important one, that could correct inequalities.”

Sebastián Carreño had to walk dirt roads for more than one hour to reach his school, coming from the rural area where he lives with his mother and brothers where they cultivate cocoa in a small farm. He is the son of entrepreneur Yamile Pinzón: widower and mother of two.

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BBVA chairman hands the Transformando Realidades scholarship to the grand winner, Sebastián Carreño

Junto a él, otros cuatro jóvenes más recibieron este reconocimiento, que cubre el coste académico durante el tiempo que dure la carrera y un extra para su manutención mensual. Además de un ordenador como herramienta de apoyo.

The dream of improving their children’s lives through education

Second placer Mario Alexander Naicipa hails from Bogotá and is the son of Luz Nelly Díaz, a 55-year old entrepreneur who works as a makeup artist and sells beauty products.

Mario is a cancer survivor and he considers this scholarship as a second opportunity for him to make his dream come true: to study film and television direction and have the means to share his personal story to all.

Belkis Xiomara Correa from Cúcuta came in third place. She lives with her mother Blanca Yaneth, an entrepreneur who is a catalog vendor as well as seller of tamales and frozen delights. Belkis wants to study early childhood learning because she wishes to “teach children with love so they can grow happily and not go through so many hardships that I had to experience in my home.”

Education is “key for people’s progress and for society’s development”. Carlos Torres Vila, BBVA chairman

Ángela Karina Sánchez also wants to be a teacher. She has five siblings and is the child of Adolfo Sánchez (52), owner of a vulcanizing shop, whose biggest dream is for his daughter to study whatever she wishes and see her turn into a professional.

Luisa Fernanda Bautista is from Ráquira (Boyacá) and is very much inclined to study health sciences. She is the daughter of Blanca Reyes, a craftswoman for 17 years and a mother of four. One of her children has special needs and this has inspired Luisa Fernanda to earn a degree that would support his care and well-being.

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BBVA chairman with the Transformando Realidades scholarship awardees

Parents’ effort to give their children a better future is the main driver of this initiative, knowing that the opportunity for them to receive college education transforms the reality of the whole family.

As Carlos Torres Vila mentioned during his speech, “There is no greater legacy for our children than education.”