Where We Work Colombia
In Colombia, today’s children are the first generation in more than 50 years with the chance to grow up in a country at peace. Following the landmark peace accord struck between the government and rebel groups in 2016, communities previously burdened with civil strife are working to build more stable futures for their children. However, an estimated 7.7 million Colombians were displaced during the conflict, and nearly all families were affected by the violence. Thousands of ex-combatants, many of whom were taken by the rebels as children, are re-integrating into society as civilians and will require economic and educational opportunities to rebuild their lives. Additionally, due to the crisis in neighboring Venezuela, more than 1.6 million Venezuelans are living in Colombia, hoping for a better future.
Colombia by the Numbers
- 50.4M total population
- 7.7M Colombians were displaced as a result of the decades-long civil war
- 19% of the population lives in rural regions, many of which have been severely affected by violence and conflict over the last few decades
- 4% of people live on less than $1.90 per day
- 55% of all adults do not have a formal bank account, and rural families are the least likely to have access to financial services
- 93% of children complete primary school
Opportunity in Colombia
As Colombians recover and rebuild after decades of violence and displacement, families are working tirelessly to support their families and educate the next generation. Having been driven from their homes, millions of families are starting over in new communities where opportunities are limited.
In response, Opportunity helps Colombians:
- Access loans and training to build their businesses.
In Colombia, access to finance is most limited in rural areas, especially the “violence corridors,” which are regions especially harmed by the conflict. We provide training and financial resources to help people in these regions grow small businesses and earn incomes.
- Access high-quality education for their children.
Many educators throughout Colombia want to grow their neighborhood schools and daycares, especially those nearer to the border so they can accommodate Venezuelan children. Opportunity’s EduFinance program equips educators with loans and industry-leading training curriculum to improve their schools and the education they offer.
- Connect with their neighbors to provide support and encouragement as they build sustainable livelihoods.
Much of Colombia’s internally displaced population lives in Bogotá — and many of them struggle to find viable economic opportunities. Opportunity forms Savings and Loans Groups for internally displaced and vulnerable people, connecting some of the most disadvantaged families to a community group to start their journeys toward financial inclusion.
Meet the Girasoles Group
With support from Opportunity, entrepreneurs like those from the Girasoles (“Sunflower”) Group are working together to improve their communities. The Girasoles Group is made up of a dozen mothers from the same neighborhood near Cartagena, Colombia. They all operate small businesses and have used loans and training from Opportunity to build sustainable incomes for themselves.
After their businesses were up and running, the mothers also wanted to use their skills to give back to their community, so they rallied together and found a central location to build a community center in their neighborhood. They saw a need in their community—and with their newfound confidence and success, knew that together, they could solve it.
The community center, now completed, serves as an open space for neighborhood activities, and it’s a safe a place for children to go after school, or while their parents are working.
These women are now forces of change in their community, creating ripples of opportunity for their children and their neighbors to build a more hopeful future together.