WOCCU Colombia project surpasses goal early

Financial inclusion project at the border with Venezuela reaches more than 210,000 people

MADISON, WI (March 4, 2019) — Despite the economic, social and political unrest impacting Venezuela every day, and the alarming effects and consequences it has caused on the border with Colombia, World Council of Credit Union’s (WOCCU) Financial Inclusion Project at the Border with Venezuela has already surpassed its original goal of delivering financial services to 210,000 rural, low-income Colombians.

Part of Colombia’s Banca de las Oportunidades program, the Venezuelan border project had already brought financial services to 224,378 Colombians as of November 2018. World Council had hoped to reach 210,000 people by the project’s scheduled completion date of August 2019.

Under the project—field agents travel to border areas via motorcycle to offer mobile banking services, support financial literacy activities to improve savings-mobilization, and increase knowledge about financial services and products being offered. They also work to link small and medium business enterprises, entrepreneurs and farmers with local organizations that can deliver training sessions on improving income generation activities. The project also generated employment and entrepreneurship for people with no income.

It’s a very good project. I’ve managed to have my own business. Previously, I had no formal job, no business. But they gave me a loan and taught me how to save. Now I am working out of my home and I have several clients,” said Yamile Hernández, a beneficiary of the Financial Inclusion Project at the Border with Venezuela.

Second Year Proves Pivotal

Reaching the goal for financial inclusion nearly one year ahead of schedule is due in large part to a strong push during year two of the program. From Aug. 2017 to Aug. 2018, partner financial institutions reached 90% of the total adult population in the border areas—207,273 people—with financial services. 85,648 of them became part of Colombia’s formal financial system for the first time, including vulnerable and displaced populations.

“This program is very important for the people living along the border. Most of the rural communities don’t have access to a physical credit union or bank branch—and traveling to a city that has one can cost families more than half of their savings. Our project ensures they can open accounts, make deposits and withdrawals—even secure a loan—right in their own communities,” said Oscar Guzman, World Council’s Director of the Financial Inclusion Project at the Border with Venezuela.

In addition to the increased financial inclusion, more than 60,000 people attended “financial days” to receive information on financial services and financial literacy, connecting the demand for financial services with the financial institutions.

“We had not had the opportunity for someone to come and teach us how to save as a community and family. Thank you very much for coming here,” said Carmenza Savogal, a member of the Misaya community of the Yukpa—a beneficiary of the project.

Banca de las Oportunidades has been funding WOCCU’s work in Colombia since 2008. Financial Inclusion at the Border with Venezuela is World Council’s fourth Banca de las Oportunidades project.

About World Council of Credit Unions

World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development platform for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach. World Council has implemented 300+ technical assistance programs in 90 countries. Worldwide, 82,758 credit unions in 97 countries serve 404 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at


Greg Neumann
Phone: +1 608-395-2048

More News