Fondo Esperanza narrows the inequality gap through entrepreneurship

17 October 2016
Fondo Esperanza

Every 17 October since 1992, the United Nations has commemorated the “International Day for the Eradication of Poverty”, an initiative conceived to renew the commitment of governments, NGOs, institutions and society to undertake actions to eliminate poverty in the world.

Fondo Esperanza has spent 14 years working to achieve the dream of over 100,000 entrepreneurs in Chile, 56% of whom belong to the most vulnerable 20% in the country. The bank reaches out to the most underprivileged individuals to help them transform their enterprises into an effective tool to improve their quality of life.

Rosa Fuenzalida is a trader from Recoleta (Santiago) and a member of the “Creciendo Juntos” (Growing Together) community bank in the “Segmentos Excluidos” (Excluded Segments) program. She used to work as an itinerant vendor, and for eight years now she has had a candy stall in the street. “I feel great support and trust. That’s good because we feel welcome at Fondo Esperanza, they greet us with a kiss on the cheek, they ask how we are and they don’t look disapprovingly at us. They see us as people just as we are and we’re really grateful for that, because sometimes people don’t see you for what you really are, but judge you for the way you look”, says Rosa.

Iris Varas lives in Iquique, and is an entrepreneur who had to leave her job as a secretary due to a degenerative disease. Entrepreneurship has been a way for her to get by. “I joined Fondo Esperanza with the aim of working as hard as I could according to my needs and my disability. I came up with my own way of getting by and persevering”, she explains.

The Chilean president, the Superintendency of Banks and Financial Institutions (SBIF) and the University of Chile granted Fondo Esperanza third place in the Financial Literacy Award 2016 in the “Support for Financial Inclusion” category for its “Segmentos Excluidos” (Excluded Segments) program, focused on its work with inmates and the homeless to enable them to rejoin society through their enterprises. This program operates in the penitentiaries of Osorno, Puente Alto (with two community banks), Colina and Limache.

Fondo Esperanza supports vulnerable sectors through financial services, training and networks to help them improve their living conditions and those of their families and communities.