The financial sector in Colombia is comprised of 18 banks, totaling 5,076 branches. Still out of 1,119 municipalities, an estimated 61 lack access to formal banking services. In 2006, the government created Banca de las Oportunidades (BDO) - a long-term policy program aimed at expanding access to financial services for adult Colombians. (See CGAP paper for more information). Still, the age restriction on account openings is 18 years, making banking particularly challenging for Colombian youth. Additionally, poverty, displacement, and violence are barriers to education, healthcare and financial inclusion for this segment. Yet despite these barriers, there is a great demand for financial services, with the number of youth opening savings accounts in formal institutions growing rapidly.
Financial Partner: Banco Caja Social (BCS)
Founded in 1911 by Jesuit Priests as Caja de Ahorros del Círculo de Obreros for the purpose of combating poverty of the working class, BCS became a formal commercial bank in 1991. Currently, over one-third of its clients earn less than the minimum wage, placing them in the low- or very low- income segments of the population. BCS offers a full range of banking services to individuals, micro-enterprises, and other businesses. Products include savings and transaction accounts; housing, consumer, and business loans; and payment services. BCS also serves the Colombian market through the Colmena brand, bringing the total number of branches in its network to 267. To learn more about BCS visit: www.bancocajasocial.com.co.
Research Partner: Universidad de los Andes
A private research university located in downtown Bogotá, UniAndes is comprised of several institutes within the university, two of which will provide expertise to YouthSave: Centro de Estudios sobre Desarrollo Económico (CEDE), and Alberto Lleras Camargo School of Government. Both CEDE at the Faculty of Economics and the School of Government undertake rigorous, policy-oriented research in areas relevant to the YouthSave initiative and also include, education, health, early childhood development, labor markets, poverty and income distribution. To learn more about UniAndes visit: www.uniandes.edu.co.
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