“To escape poverty trap, sometimes it only takes a little nudge- economically”. With this statement, El País Semanal presents a special report about the potential of microfinance in Latin America. The article relates the lives of four entrepreneurs who work with the BBVA Microfinance Foundation, whose endeavor was crucial in overcoming their poverty-stricken conditions.
20th century Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen defined these poor entrepreneurs as people who don’t necessarily possess nor produce little, but people who weren’t able to develop their capacities due to lack of resources. Searching for the “small great twist”, a journey to Panama, Peru, the Dominican Republic and Colombia allowed the stories’ main characters –mostly women– to share their path towards progress.
Thus, microfinance arises as a driving force for change that has the power to turn misery into relief; a necessary tool for those who desire to escape financial inclusion and pursue advancement. Adelaida, Quintin, Diana and Astrid are examples of this feat: they barely had the means but held great hope, eventually making them experience “before and after” periods in their lives. A workstation was improved, bananas were exported to the other side of the Atlantic, and a cattle business started to prosper.
These stories show how a single loan could change many lives. However, that alone is not enough: microfinance officers are the main channels that bring financial products and services closer to the entrepreneurs, regardless of the physical distance that separate them. Without them, none of these enterprising individuals would have dared ask for a loan for their businesses. Similarly, the use of technology prevents potential borrowers from having to incur in additional costs like commuting or fees. And it also contributes to bringing them better quality services in terms of efficiently increasing outreach.
This special report has focused in a region with 210 million financially-excluded adults, and highlights a great turning point in peoples’ lives where they were able to escape poverty and started to look ahead, towards a brighter future.