Opportunity opened a financially-regulated, full-service bank to serve people living in extreme poverty in Bogotá, Colombia in early October. Leveraging a grant from Citi Foundation, a long-time supporter of programs promoting the economic empowerment and financial inclusion of low-income people, we’re developing the capacity to conduct formal banking transactions, including interest-bearing savings, with the goal of reaching 37,000 savings clients and mobilizing $40 million in deposits over the next three years. In addition, the grant will be used to fully integrate software and technology to meet the reporting needs for savings products and banking regulatory requirements.
“We have provided loans and training to the Colombian people for more than 40 years,” said Enrique Ordonez, Opportunity Colombia’s CEO. “Thanks to the generous support of the Citi Foundation, our clients will also have a safe place to save their money, a critical tool for those working their way out of poverty. This new financial intermediary has as its sole objective to offer opportunities to the less fortunate so that they have the opportunity to save money and plan for the future.”
In a country where more than 12.7 million people live on less than $2 a day, and only 2.5% are using microfinance services, Opportunity Colombia will enable marginalized people, especially women, to engage in the local economy, overcome extreme poverty and build stronger communities. Currently, more than 75% of Opportunity Colombia clients are women.
“Opportunity Colombia’s bank will provide those outside the economic mainstream with greater access to financial resources they need to begin building a more stable future for themselves and their families,” said Pamela Flaherty, President and CEO, Citi Foundation. “We are pleased that the support of the Citi Foundation will enable Opportunity International to expand financial inclusion in Bogotá.”
Celebrating this important milestone, Opportunity Colombia hosted a grand opening event last month in Bogotá, attended by international dignitaries, philanthropists, corporations and clients as well as local and international Opportunity staff.