WOCCU Delivers Financial Services to Over 250,000 Colombians

Three-year project near border with Venezuela surpasses goal by more than 40,000 people

August 08, 2019

MADISON, WI—After exceeding initial expectations nine months ahead of schedule, World Council of Credit Unions concluded its Financial Inclusion Project at the Border with Venezuela in August—reaching a total of 253,055 rural, low-income Colombians with financial services. Nearly half of them are now included in the formal financial system for the first time.

The project, funded by Banca de las Oportunidades, utilized World Council’s Field Officer Banking Model. Since most of the rural villagers in the region don’t have access to a physical branch location—and traveling to a city that has one can cost families more than half of their savings—field officers from local credit unions traveled to border areas via motorcycle to offer mobile banking services.

The project also supported financial literacy activities to improve savings-mobilization and increase knowledge about the financial services and products being offered. From August 2016 to August 2019, these efforts provided:

  • 7,713 adults with in-person financial education in cities and intermediate municipalities. 
  • 12,502 adults with in-person training in small villages and rural areas.
  • 72,000 people with access to Financial Days—marketplaces that allowed multiple financial institutions to visit communities and market themselves to new members.

The project also provided skills training for 1,200 jobless adults—300 of which are now employed—and supported or strengthened nearly 4,000 small businesses to improve their sustainability, linking them with financial services.

“All of this was accomplished 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,” said Oscar Guzman, WOCCU’s project director in Colombia.

This was the fourth Banca de las Oportunidades’ financial inclusion project administered by World Council since 2008. WOCCU is now focused on exploring ways to provide formal financial services to the scores of Venezuelan refugees now residing in Colombia.

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 89 countries. Worldwide, 85,400 credit unions in 118 countries serve 274 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at

Author Photo
Contact: Greg Neumann
Organization: World Council of Credit Unions
Phone: +1 608-395-2048
Oscar Guzman of WOCCU (top left) submits project outcomes to Bancas de las Oportunidades officials
Oscar Guzman of WOCCU (top left) submits project outcomes to Bancas de las Oportunidades officials

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