The BBVAMF joins the celebrations to mark the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

  • 15% of the most vulnerable and marginalized people in the world belong to some indigenous community
  • There are 370 million indigenous people living in almost 90 countries

“Chinchorros” are the hand-woven hammocks made by the women of La Guajira, one of the 32 departments in Colombia, in the western part of the country. Each piece is unique; they take between two and six months to weave. Arts and crafts contribute to the development and inclusion of women in indigenous communities, who are also unwilling to see their culture fall into oblivion.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), indigenous peoples account for nearly 5% of the world’s population but represent 15% of the world’s poor, and are among the most highly vulnerable and marginalized populations. In total, around 370 million indigenous people live in almost 90 countries. These figures are worth remembering on the occasion of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, which is marked by the United Nations every 9 August.

Another important point is that access to the financial system by indigenous women reduces the gender gap in their countries’ economies.

In Maicao, in La Guajira, 45% of the population is from the Wayuu ethnic group. Josefina Gómez Jusayu is an indigenous craftswoman who weaves “chinchorros” and backpacks. In 2007 Bancamía, part of the BBVA Microfinance Foundation in Colombia, started up in her hometown using a Relational Banking system –banking tailored to each customer’s needs. Her employees speak Wayuunaiki, Josefina’s own language, and many of them belong to the same community, which encourages greater understanding between the entrepreneurs.

Josefina learned about Bancamía through her daughter, who was already a customer of the bank. “They lent me the money I needed, and I feel comfortable with them: they helped me with my business and now I’m weaving more “chinchorros”, making more backpacks and helping my children with their education. I always pay the bank punctually, because they’ve helped me, and you have to look out for that, that’s your earnings”.

 She also says she helps other indigenous women in her community: “I came up with the money to increase my sales, and now I’m looking for more craftswomen from the Wayuu people. I buy them the yarn so they can work, and I pay them for the backpacks and “chinchorros” they weave for me. I couldn’t do that before”.

Bancamía serves 2,800 craftspeople from La Guajira, 90% of whom are women.

In Colombia, unemployment affects 10.7% of women, and according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, approximately 54% are planning to become microentrepreneurs in the next three years.

Josefina works outdoors, because she can’t store the materials in her wooden house. Her future plans mainly involve her children and her business: “My greatest hope is to improve my house so I can keep my work material out of the rain and give my children better education so they can go to university. That’s why I’m working here”.