New York/Bucaramanga, Colombia, 25 October 2016 – Colombia-based financial services provider Crezcamos S.A. has joined Business Call to Action (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.
Launched in 2008, the Business Call to Action (BCtA) aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that engage people with less than US$8 per day in purchasing power as consumers, producers, suppliers and distributors. It is supported by several international organizations and hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
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 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.
According to Crezcamos CEO Mauricio Osorio, “As we scale-up our unique portfolio of products and services to new areas, we are constantly evolving to meet the financing needs of both agriculturalists and other entrepreneurs. This customer-focused strategy is allowing us to break down barriers between urban and rural areas to include everyone in rural development”.
Crezcamos’ involvement with customers is a critical aspect of its inclusive model. In addition, understanding their needs, the company provides financial education so that its customers understand the opportunities, risks and potential of its innovative products. Close involvement with customers also assists in analyzing credit risk and disseminating important information for improving their productivity.
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.
“We are very pleased to welcome Crezcamos as our latest member in Colombia – a country of focus for BCtA,” said Paula Peleaz, who heads the Business Call to Action. “We applaud the company’s efforts to bring much needed financial services and literacy to the rural areas of Colombia, contributing to more equitable opportunities for sustainable growth.”
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Membership in the Business Call to Action does not constitute a partnership with its funding and programme partners, UNDP or any UN agency.
About Business Call to Action (BCtA): Launched at the United Nations in 2008, the Business Call to Action (BCtA) aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that offer the potential for both commercial success and development impact. BCtA is a unique multilateral alliance between key donor governments including the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), UK Department for International Development, US Agency for International Development, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Finland, and the United Nations Development Programme — which hosts the secretariat. For more information, please visit www.businesscalltoaction.org or on Twitter at @BCtAInitiative.
About Crezcamos: Crezcamos S.A. is a Colombian microfinance institution created in 2008. With its origins in the local cooperative Fundacoop – one of the first microfinance programmes in the Cesar region in northeast Colombia – this growing institution focuses on small towns where access to financial institutions is limited. Approximately 64 percent of Crezcamos’ portfolio is allocated in rural towns. Crezcamos provides appropriate and responsible financial services to entrepreneurial families in the rural sector. Its mission is to provide positive returns for its shareholders by enabling rural micro-entrepreneurs to access financial services that meet their needs. Its specially tailored products and services for the rural sector (with a focus on agriculture) are aimed at developing customers’ livelihoods so that their productive activities can contribute to a vibrant economy. For more information about Crezcamos and its social mission, visit www.crezcamos.com.