Expanding access to financial services for rural micro-entrepreneurs in Colombia
Colombia-based financial services provider Crezcamos S.A. has joined the BCtA with a pledge to provide appropriate and responsible financial services to 240,000 Colombian micro-entrepreneurs by the end of 2020 – at least 65 percent of them in rural areas. Rural Colombia is experiencing renewed growth after many years of conflict. However, many people in the country’s most-affected and remotest areas cannot access financing to expand their livelihoods. In these largely agricultural areas, many women and men lack the capital to launch a small business or insure it from man-made or natural disasters. This situation is particularly serious for farmers, who often struggle to earn a living and cannot invest in improving productivity.
Founded in 2008, Colombian microfinance institution Crezcamos serves nearly 105,000 clients in northeastern Colombia, where access to financial institutions is limited. With a mission to support entrepreneurship in rural areas, it focuses on providing small businesses with 'appropriate and responsible' financial services that promote a developing rural economy; 90 percent of the towns where Crezcamos works have under 50,000 inhabitants, 55 percent of its clients are women and 64 percent of its portfolio are rural clients. In line its pledge to extend affordable financial services to 240,000 micro-entrepreneurs before the end of 2020, Crezcamos commits to reaching 35,000 new customers in two new regions – Meta and Tolima – contributing to economic development in areas affected by conflict. The company also has plans to increase its agricultural service offering to 30 percent of its portfolio.
Crezcamos' inclusive business model involves listening to its customers and developing tailored financial products that are both affordable and appropriate to their needs. The company strives to maintain a highly committed and dedicated staff that promotes an environment of trust, respect and learning with clients. It also partners with financiers and other partners that invest in inclusive microfinance to extend the benefits of its products. Crezcamos has experienced tremendous growth over the past three years, becoming one of the most prominent generators of employment in the rural towns of Colombia. It is now evaluating its distribution model for rural financial services in order to expand its coverage further in rural areas. By focusing on agriculture and related enterprises, the company is also helping to ensure future food security and attract young entrepreneurs to this important sector.