> Posted by Kevin Jackson
First let me introduce myself. I am a native from Caracas, Venezuela (yes, both my parents are Venezuelan despite my name). At age 16 I left my country when I received a scholarship to attend United World College USA in Montezuma, New Mexico, an international boarding school where I lived with students from 80 different countries. Two years later I enrolled at Dartmouth where I am currently an economics major and a creative writing minor. I joined the Paganucci Fellows because I am passionate about social enterprise and microfinance in particular. After working in McKinsey & Co. this past winter as an analyst I realized that I’d probably be happier starting a bank in the middle-of-nowhere Peru than doing corporate work, so I hope to someday work in the microfinance field.
Our research as part of the fellowship has been focused on briefly detailing the financial industry landscape, compiling available penetration statistics, and briefly surveying banks and banking associations for measures of affordability, quality, and appropriateness that relate to savings and credit instruments. As the resident Spanish speaker I’ve been mainly focusing on understanding financial access in Peru and Colombia. In both countries microcredit and the financial sector at large are growing at a tremendous pace as the lower middle-class and the poor start using financial services. Colombia, where 55% of the adult population has access to a financial product, is clearly ahead than Peru (26%). But data from both countries show that access is broadening due to new banks such as Bancamía and Mibanco that are targeting micro entrepreneurs and lower-class salaried workers. In both countries microcredit is increasingly provided by the formal sector. More importantly, new technological innovations such as point-of-sales banking (just recently introduced in both countries) and a period of sustained economic growth seem to be helping to increase financial inclusion.
The data in these countries has been relatively easy to find, and I think it is due to a strong commitment by Peruvians, and even more so Colombians, to financial inclusion. Asobancaria, the banking association of the latter, even has a financial access report with detailed penetration rates by product! Eventually, I found the marvelously friendly person in charge of that report, Ana Maria Garcia, and next week she’ll actually take a quick look at our preliminary scorecard. So I guess it’s fair to say that it’s been a pleasure to work (remotely and not at all in direct contact) with Colombians and their reports.
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