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Staff Spotlight: Camilo Garcia

By Kelli Walker

Leadership in Colombia

Anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Camilo Garcia knows the warmth of his smile and the kind gleam in his eyes. Camilo has been with Opportunity for the past 12 years, and he has served as the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships in Latin America for the past three years. He is an experienced businessperson motivated by a desire to lift up the people of his birthplace and strengthen opportunities for current and future generations. Like so many fathers across the globe, his son inspires him to make the world a better place, one opportunity at a time.

Camilo collaborates with international colleagues and partners, refining our program focus to reach people living in extreme poverty—families at the bottom of the economic pyramid who have no assets or support but do have an abundance of faith, resilience, and persistence. Camilo and his small team on the ground in Colombia increase access to financial resources, training, and support for people working their way out of extreme poverty in a country mired in its own political and economic challenges.

Prior to joining the Opportunity team, Camilo served as the Chief Financial Officer at a microfinance bank in Bogotá. In search of a finance company with a social mission, he first joined Opportunity as a consultant. He experienced Opportunity’s focus on the most vulnerable people in his country. He visited our clients, listened to their stories, and witnessed the changes in their lives thanks to access to financial literacy and resources, training, and support—and the clients’ own deep commitment to building sustainable lives for their families.

During his time with Opportunity, Camilo has welcomed many visitors to Colombia. When asked what we can do for his staff, his neighbors, and our clients, the response is surprisingly easy: share stories of Colombia’s progress, and share the beauty and potential of this historic country. Visit our work in Colombia and experience firsthand the joy and hope Camilo sees every day.

When you visit, one of the programs you might see is the Graduation Program—known in Colombia as “Pathway to Opportunities.” This rigorous 18-month program in Cartagena serves 250 families who learn business and life skills that pave a path out of ultra-poverty and provide stability for their families. The program helps participants create business plans that outline their dreams, goals, and journey to self-sufficiency. Camilo—as a lifelong financial professional—shares that he “learns from their business plans—they have such clarity of purpose and goals; they just need the opportunity and tools to put it into action.” Graduation participants are “intelligent, resilient, and capable—to hear them speak with more confidence about their lives, even in the most difficult circumstances—is inspiring.” Many of the staff working with the Graduation families have grown up in similar circumstances; the staff become trusted advisors and counselors during and after the program.

You also might hear Camilo speak about his four-year-old son, Juan Martin, and their close-knit family. Family is a priority for Camilo; he is committed to creating a world in which his son can thrive—and to teaching his son to have a heart for serving others.

Camilo earned a master's degree in finance from Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, and two bachelor’s degrees from the Universidad del Rosario in Bogotá in Economics and Finance and International Trade. Camilo speaks three languages, is a member of the board of directors of AGAPE—our implementing partner in Colombia—and was part of the board of directors of Opportunity Bank in Colombia.

To hear Camilo speak about Opportunity’s work and impact in Colombia, watch this video that explores the sights and sounds of the country where Opportunity first launched our work more than 50 years ago.

And to enjoy ajiaco, one of Camilo’s favorite Colombian soups, follow this recipe!

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