Facing a $17 billion gap funding gap, Peru’s micro, small, and medium enterprises are often left without the capital they need to grow or even make ends meet. Often the businesses that are the most underfunded are small, rural, and women-run.
This important segment of Peru’s economy is where Accion partner, Mibanco, specializes. Mibanco has years of experience in providing financial services to small businesses and emphasizes building long-term relationships with its clients. “Micro and small businesses are the heart and spinal cord here in South America. They make up 90 percent of businesses here. And even though they are spread out, they are the base of business and the economy,” explains Mibanco branch manager Roberto Gallardo Bejarano. Mibanco recognizes that supporting MSMEs powers large scale economic growth.
Supporting these critical businesses creates ripples throughout communities and helps build a more vibrant economy. Mibanco client Tarsila Apaza has seen the growing impact of Mibanco as more of her fellow business owners and neighbors have begun working with the bank. “My colleagues around here also work with Mibanco so sometimes when I go to pay at the bank I see them there and I’m like “hey, you’re also here!” So yes, they have helped many of us around here,” she says.
Mibanco’s success in serving small — and often rural — businesses relies on its network of agents that go out to the field to connect with clients. Mibanco has also been a pioneer in using technology to streamline processes and make their services even more accessible. Through a digital app, agents can quickly input customer data during their field visits and manage loan disbursement and payments. Coupling technology with human interaction allows Mibanco to better understand their clients and provide them with more effective services. “We are working with business people — people who need to be at their businesses, and don’t want to take time to go to the bank. So we want to go to them,” says Roberto.
The goal is to provide resources and insights in addition to financial services that enable small businesses to grow responsibly. Most clients begin with small loans and build up to larger amounts as their relationship with Mibanco deepens. “They start with small credit and over time they have grown to be able to ask for more credit,” says Jorge Pucurimary Gutierrez, a Mibanco manager.
For microentrepreneurs, it is critical that they have the knowledge and resources to grow sustainably. By starting with small loans and building to larger amounts, business owners learn how to manage their finances and grow their enterprises. Mibanco is serving a traditionally excluded, but immensely important, segment of Peru’s population. Small businesses drive the economy and by providing relevant products, Mibanco is helping families to do better financially and to build better futures.