PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic – IDB Invest, the private sector arm of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), has teamed up with several companies to make the financial sector inclusive for the millions of Latin Americans – notably Venezuelans – who have migrated within the region in recent years.
“Since 2014, 4.5 million Venezuelans have left their country and 80 percent of them have stayed in the region, doubtlessly creating a challenge for the countries, which are not only approachable from the social or political side, but in which the private sector must also play a role,” Gema Sacristan, chief investment officer for IDB Invest, told Efe at the Foromic 2019 event in Punta Cana.
The IDB, she said, “is working to see what solutions the private sector can provide to the challenge of immigration.”
“Financial inclusion plays a fundamental role in the inclusion of those immigrants, as there are indications that they will not return to their countries so quickly: it’s about people who are going to remain in the receiving countries and who it is necessary to include because there are not sufficient resources for the states to take responsibility for them,” Sacristan said.
With that aim IDB Invest partners such as Bancamia, Omni and Banco Pichincha, among others, have launched pilot programs with an eye toward scaling up those projects in the coming months.
In the case of Colombia’s Bancamia, the pilot initiative, “Progress Without Borders,” involves offering financial products and services to micro-enterprises founded by Venezuelan immigrants in six different cities: Cucuta, Pamplona, Bucaramanga, Giron, Piedecuesta and Floridablanca.
“The migratory challenge has been something very complex and we as an institution have wanted to break the molds to be able to give these people access,” Bancamia Vice President Edison Mejia told Efe at Foromic 2019, the main innovation-for-inclusion event in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Roughly 200 Venezuelan entrepreneurs have taken part in the program.
Mejia acknowledged that Bancamia has encountered limits in its efforts to reach out to Venezuelan expats.
“Many of the immigrants who are coming don’t have residence permits,” he said. “There is no information, and ignorance about the (financial) sector exists among them.”
Omni, meanwhile, has created a platform to provide immigrants access to legal advice, medical care, credentialing and financial services such as microloans and processing remittances.