BBVAMF wins the EQUALS in Tech Awards 2021 for reducing the gender digital divide

The BBVA Microfinance Foundation (BBVAMF) has been chosen, among 155 organizations from 56 countries, as the EQUALS in Tech 2021 awardee under the “Access” category (ie, access to digital media); a recognition for its efforts on empowering women through digitization.

This year, the BBVAMF has launched different initiatives to bring connectivity, digital skills and access to digital tools closer to the most vulnerable populations in Latin America.

Notable among these, is the Foundation’s pilot project in Colombia and Peru to expand internet access to remote areas through satellite connectivity. 

As CEO Javier M. Flores explained in this year’s event ‘Conectados por la oportunidad digital’, “This initiative already impacts more than 2,000 people who now have a  better service. Additionally, it allows them to access information and quality skills training just as people in urban areas do.” 

Among the 2.7 million entrepreneurs supported by the BBVAMF in five Latin American countries, 59% are women.

They suffer higher rates of digital divide which adds up to other inequalities such as  difficulties accessing job opportunities, bearing the brunt of unpaid care work or lower salaries.


Luz Nelsy, a Colombian entrepreneur supported by BBVAMF, together with her loan officer who carries the MFI branch in his tablet

Financial education and digital tools

This is why the BBVAMF has designed services tailored for women entrepreneurs which include financial education programs either through workshops, mobile phone apps or SMS messaging.

With these tools, many rural and periurban women with businesses were able to access information about basic finance such as budgeting and saving techniques. This type of training allows them to overcome their unease of using technology.

In Peru, Academia Palabra de Mujer was created in alliance with Centrum Business School so that women entrepreneurs who are under the Palabra de Mujer or Emprendiendo Mujer program could also access business administration courses, aside from financial education training through the app Lista.

In Chile, Fondo Esperanza’s initiative EducaFE has developed virtual sessions covering topics like self-care, digitization, prejudice or gender violence during the pandemic.

This award, given by EQUALS Global Partnership for Gender Digital Equality, recognizes initiatives that improve women’s access to technology, digitalization and connectivity among them.

Based in Geneva, Equals Global Partnership for Gender Digital Equality promotes bringing the benefits of technology and digitization closer to women, bridging the gender digital divide and boosting women’s participation in the technological sector.

This alliance, whose founding partners are the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), UN Women, International Trade Center, GSMA (Global System for Mobile Communications) and United Nations University, brings together more than 100 international organizations.

EQUALS in Tech Awards is celebrated and is divided into five categories: Access, Skills, Leadership, Leadership in SME and Research.

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