Reaching displaced communities in Colombia

World Council project improves financial inclusion.

by Eleni Giakoumopoulos and Oscar Guzman, CU Magazine
Semilla Rural Group receives financial literacy and financial services assistance in Amanaven, a village near Venezuela.

For decades, rural populations have been caught in the middle of conflicts in Colombia. Activities of military and paramilitary groups, narcotics traffickers, natural disasters, and turmoil with neighboring Venezuela have all contributed to people in rural areas becoming “desplazados”—the displaced ones.

Since 2008, the World Council has been working with credit unions in Colombia to serve the underserved, harness the power of technology, and provide a means for the displaced ones to provide for their families. Like many others, Henry Valencia was displaced. He fled to the municipality of Curumani, which had no services, utilities, or houses.

As a refugee, he lived in a “cambuche” (tent) with 200 other people. He had no opportunity to easily access a loan to improve his conditions—no land, house, or fixed assets. High transactional costs presented another barrier to access financial services. The cost to travel to the nearest city is 40,000 Colombian pesos (U.S. $14).


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