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Financial inclusion 10 Aug 2020

International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples: The need to reach them out

The 9th of August is the day the United Nations honors the indigenous people for their efforts in protecting biodiversity and a millenium-old culture. They comprise 6% of the world’s population but their territory houses 80% of the planet’s biodiversity. Indigenous communities possess valuable knowledge on how to preserve the environment and care for natural resources. However, they face challenges that put their survival at risk, such as the lack of basic services like health -especially during the COVID-19 pandemic- or access to finance. Among other obstacles that hinder their progress is the lack of infrastructure, but the language barrier is also significant.

When I visit my clients, I talk to them in my mother tongue because it allows me to connect with them and they help me to better understand their financial needs”, assures Sem, a Peruvian microfinance officer from BBVA Microfinance Foundation. Sem belongs to the Awajún community, a warrior tribe from the Amazon. He has been working for the Foundation’s local institution, Financiera Confianza, to bring financial services closer to his community.

Sem (on the rigth), a Peruvian microfinance officer from BBVA Microfinance Foundation

Sem says that historically, the lack of financial education has been a drawback for their progress. One of his clients who grows banana and yucca, shares -in their native language- that no matter how many times he asked for a loan, no financial institution would lend him money because he doesn’t meet their requirements. This wall was brought down by BBVAMF by showing that believing in indigenous people’s fighting spirit, could, little by little, make a difference. “Up to this day, this farmer punctually settles his loans; at the same time, he is improving his living standards: he was able to build a house made of wood, with metal roofing, and has bought a vehicle so he could sell his produce in the local market”, shares Sem.

The BBVA Microfinance Foundation, on the International Day of World's Indigenous Peoples

The national census estimates that nearly 37,000 people from indigenous communities depend on Financiera Confianza’s support, the kind of assistance that reaches where others cannot, as it aims to fulfill its purpose: the sustainable development of entrepreneurs who live in vulnerable conditions. This is an objective shared by the rest of BBVA Microfinance Foundation’s institutions in Colombia, Chile, Domincan Republic and Panama, aside from Peru: that they may go wherever entrepreneurs are, so that those excluded from the financial system could have an opportunity to nourish their growth.

With microfinance, the more than 2.3 million people served by BBVAMF in Latin America not only improve their businesses, but also their access to health, education and a decent housing.

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Every year, the United Nations dedicates a day to celebrate and acknowledge the contribution of indigenous peoples towards the protection of biodiversity and a millenium-old culture, a fountain of knowledge for all. In 2020, the world is a witness to their resilience in the face of COVID-19, which has deepened the social gaps they were already enduring, but are simultaneously combating, given their innate survival skills. As UN shares, “August 9th is a day to learn more about their situation. Especially now, they need us. Especially now, we need them.”