Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Micro-Finance , Accion International Meeting in Colombia

In March 2007, an Accion International Board Meeting was held in Bogota , Colombia. The day before the meeting , we visited the Accion affiliate , Finamerica, and two of their customers in Bogota and its surroundings.
Finamerica has close to 40.000 customers and a loan portfolio of around $ 50 Million US. It is an impressive organization with a dynamic team but it does face several competitors in the Micro-Finance market in the Colombian capital.
We visited two customers ,which are building businesses in the less affluent regions of Bogota. One customer , Don Jaime, owns a foundry , where he and his twelve employees produce brass components such as door and window handles , belt buckles etc. that are being sold through a network of eighty hard ware stores and retailers in the Colombian market. Don Jaime has been working with Finamerica for about five years and he had three employees before he started using micro loans .
The second customer, that we visited runs a textile manufacturing company, that produces pyjamas and nightwear and sells his products to retailers via a wholesale market . He had been working with Finamerica for three years and he used the original micro loan to start the company.
In the Accion International office in Bogota, we also visited a teaching facility where individuals are being trained in entrepreneurship . " Dialogo de Gestiones " ( Management Conversations ) as the program is called trains 90.000 entrepreneurs per year all over Latin America in topics such as " How do I start a Company "; " How can Debt be used " etc. All in all it was for me a very impressive first visit to Colombia.


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