Beyond Words: Success Stories with Gender Impact in IDB Invest Projects
Last year, IDB Invest granted a $60 million loan to Banco de América Central, S.A. (BAC Credomatic El Salvador), to finance and offer other services to small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) owned and led by women. The success stories connected to this program, Mujer Acelera, are evidence that the combination of entrepreneurship and bilateral financing is key to exiting the pandemic with a more consolidated productive fabric.
Mujer Acelera – targeting SME with a female ownership of more than 51%, and with women in senior management or more than 30% board members who are women – offers specialized financial products and solutions for women entrepreneurs, as well as technical advice aimed at strengthening your knowledge and business skills.
This from IDB Invest is one of the first loans in Central America with incentives for development impact results, and therefore represents a step whose results should guide us in future initiatives. For example, the characterization of the portfolio by gender, distinguishing share ownership or business leadership, allows for lessons to be learned to better serve the variety of businesswomen who are BAC clients.
Many women manage and own SME but have extra difficulties in accessing credit and financial services, a situation exacerbated by the pandemic. According to Mastercard's 2020 Index of Female Entrepreneurs, 87% of female business owners reported being adversely affected by the pandemic. In addition, amid the crisis the loss of women's jobs has been disproportionate.
Six months after the signing of the IDB Invest loan, local clients of BAC Credomatic are reporting a significant improvement in their operations thanks to the combination of financing and training that is a key characteristic of this type of project, which is clearly helping one of the Central American economies most at risk from the pandemic, according to CEPAL estimates.
An example of BAC Credomatic's clients is Inversiones Primavera S.A. de CV, a company dedicated to the trade of tiles, false ceilings, aluminum, glass and miscellaneous items, which has been a bank client since 2012, owned by Blanca Ester Blanco Portillo, 53 years old, and Blanca Aracely Cárcamo de Pereira, 47 years old. The company received in November 2020 a loan for $70,000, which it used for the purchase of land for the construction of a warehouse and commercial premises in the city of Usulután, outside the capital.
The new facilities, still under construction, are boosting the local economy and are expected to have a positive impact on the company’s customer base and sales projections at a time when its pre-existing facilities are operating at full capacity due to social distancing.
Also in the industrial sector we have the examples of Import Carrocería, S.A. de C.V. and Import Repuestos, S.A. de C.V., two companies that import and sell automotive parts, pieces and spare parts, owned by Ruth Yamilieth Umanzo, 47 years old. The two jointly received a loan of US $ 200,000, last November, for the purchase of a premises for commercial use.
These funds allowed the two companies to move their business into a premises that will be their property, where they will no longer have to pay rent, and which they acquired at a special price, due to the situation. With more cash flow available, companies have been able to meet salary and vendor payment expenses by increasing their available lines of capital. For example, by freeing up cash flow these businesses were able to hire medical personnel to provide outpatient assistance to their staff. In addition, BAC Credomatic has offered digital tools and facilities through its Online Banking service.
Both companies, with the technical advice provided by BAC Credomatic’s Business Development Center, have been able to adapt to the new business conditions under COVID-19, including greater home deliveries, teleworking of administrative staff, greater contact with clients via social network and the implementation of electronic and credit card payments, which offers its customers a new practical and safe alternative to make their purchases.
Seeking to strengthen Mujer Acelera, BAC Credomatic and IDB Invest are working together on a training program for bank employees responsible for direct contact with the client.
The work with BAC is part of a regional initiative by the IDB Group to strengthen female SMEs using the multi-donor fund Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi). We-Fi aims to facilitate financing, access to markets and access to knowledge for companies owned and led by women. In the case of BAC, We-Fi funds were used to close gaps in financial and non-financial services to SME entrepreneurs in El Salvador.
Through We-Fi, IDB Invest provides BAC Credomatic El Salvador with advisory services to develop its female strategy and a bonus worth up to $450,000 over a five-year period for compliance with program results – this compliance implies expanding the portfolio of loans to women-led SME from the current 27% to 45% in 2025.
BAC is a strategic client to encourage investment with gender lenses and access to financing for women entrepreneurs. Step by step, the private sector must be the engine to get SME in Latin America and the Caribbean out of the crisis, and do so in a more equitable and sustainable way.
(Camila Mena, head of commercial banking at BAC Credomatic, and Miguel Ernesto Jacobo, Propemi manager at BAC Credomatic, contributed to this piece)