Today everyone has heard of microcredits, those small loans that make it easier to start businesses and get out of poverty. Its promoter, more than 30 years ago, was the banker and Nobel Prize winner in Economics Muhammad Yunus. That initiative, directed at that time to the most disadvantaged classes in India and today spread throughout the world, is considered the germ of what we now call financial inclusion.
Within the framework of its responsible banking strategy, achieving this financial inclusion in all the countries in which it operates is one of the great commitments of Banco Santander, in line with the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that the entity has been set.
The efforts are paying off, as last year more than 3.5 million people were able to access basic financial services, obtain tailored credit in a time of economic difficulty or benefit from essential financial training. Banco Santander’s goal is to empower a total of 10 million people around the world between 2019 and 2025 and, as of today, it has already reached 60% of this goal.
The entity’s objective is to offer basic financial services to 10 million people today until 2025
“With this, we generate a positive impact on their lives, helping entrepreneurs to start their businesses thanks to our microfinance programs; or making it easier for customers to use digital channels so that they are not left behind in the digitization process. We thus contribute to generating inclusive and sustainable growth ”, Ana Botín, president of Grupo Santander, recently pointed out on the occasion of the award given by the magazine Euromoney as the best bank in financial inclusion in the world.
Technology and microfinance
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The entity has numerous programs in place that pursue this objective through three main avenues. On the one hand, they give vulnerable groups access to basic financial services. Despite the progress, there is still much to do as the World Bank estimates at about 1.7 billion people in the world who are not yet banked. However, the digitization of financial services and the increasingly widespread use of technology are significantly increasing levels of inclusion.
We find an example in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Peru, Chile and Mexico, the countries in which Superdigital has been launched, Santander’s flagship 100% digital mobile platform that allows payments to be made in those countries, taking advantage of the fast growth in the adoption of smartphones and improvement in network coverage in Latin America.
The second way to achieve the aforementioned inclusion is to offer tailor-made financing for individuals and SMEs with difficulties in obtaining credit. For this, Santander has specific programs such as Tuiio in Mexico, Prospera in Brazil, Uruguay and Colombia and Surgir in Peru, all of them initiatives that have the same objective: to support microentrepreneurs to establish and grow micro-businesses through microcredits and microinsurance.
The third way refers to the promotion of financial education programs so that all people have access, under equal conditions, to basic training in finance and the ability to manage their economy, know the risks and make the most appropriate decisions to their needs. personal and family needs.
In this sense, the entity promoted during 2020 more than 60 initiatives in the countries in which it operates, financed with more than three million euros and that have helped 716,000 people, which represents an increase of 30% compared to the previous year . We talk about workshops and face-to-face courses as well as online training initiatives with specific websites, tools, tutorials or games.
In 2020, the entity promoted more than 60 financial education initiatives, from workshops and face-to-face courses to online training
In Spain, Santander supports programs such as Your finances, your future, of the Spanish Banking Association, or Financial Education in the Schools of Catalonia (EFEC), but there is another one that is especially relevant, since it is developed thanks to the work of volunteer employees from the bank. It is about Finance for Mortals, which has been in operation for almost ten years in collaboration with the University of Cantabria and the Santander Financial Institute, SANFI.
In the first semester of 2021 alone, more than 2,600 people from financially vulnerable groups have benefited from the 314 training sessions of this program, which is recognized as one of the most important in financial education by the Bank of Spain and the National Commission of the Stock Market (CNMV). In addition, in the last year it has strengthened its digital content of banking information through the website www.finanzasparamortales.es. These initiatives also include the fact that Santander Consumer Finance has launched free courses on home economics or advice on saving and responsible consumption, through the Simplifi project.
These projects extend to nine other countries in Europe, Latin America and also the US In the UK, for example, various anti-fraud training workshops were held last year. In Chile, the Sanodelucas digital platform offers financial literacy information for the proper use of financial products. And in Argentina, a series of training workshops for clients and non-clients have been launched by volunteer bank employees, among other initiatives.
Award for your help in pandemic
The work carried out by Santander to financially empower both individuals and companies is being recognized internationally. Euromoney magazine, through the Global Awards for Excellence 2021, has chosen the best bank in the world for financial inclusion. The publication also highlights the work done to help people, especially the elderly, to use digital channels during the pandemic.
In the harshest months of the health crisis, the group was especially vigilant to help clients in vulnerable situations, and thus ensure that they could access financial services. The formula was to contact them in order to help them feel more secure when using digital services. He also created simple videos with step-by-step descriptions and guides to online and mobile banking.
The Banker has also recognized Santander this year as the most innovative bank for its financial inclusion initiatives. Specifically, this magazine of the Financial Times group has highlighted the agreement reached with Correos, which made it possible to make income and withdraw cash through the 4,650 Post Offices, which managed to further expand essential financial services in rural areas.
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Financial inclusion is a tool for the future