Extending Financial Inclusion in Colombia
In her keynote address at the presentation of Colombia’s National Strategy for Financial Inclusion, Queen Máxima congratulated the Government on the progress it has made over the past ten years. Now, Colombia is entering a second phase of financial inclusion, in which the emphasis should be on use of the right products, as well as extended access to all Colombians, including those in rural areas. For this, a national strategy will be very important. The presentation of the National Strategy concluded a three-day country visit which included meetings with President Santos and First Lady Maria Clemencia Rodriguez, Minister Lizarralde (Agriculture), Minister Campo (Education), a roundtable with members of the bank association (Asobancaría), and the coffee federation, which has developed an electronic payment and banking card for its members. The UNSGSA also visited the town and nearby farms of Lebrija, where she spoke with bank agents, clients and beneficiaries about their lives, livelihoods and welfare. The field visit included a conversation with women affected by conflict with little or no access to formal financial services. These women are being supported by Organización Femenina Popular (OFP) which in coordination with the UN works to empower these women. Queen Máxima also joined the first meeting of the national Financial Education Committee, which includes representatives of eight institutions across Government. The Ministry of Education has begun a long-term effort to gradually integrate financial education into the national curriculum, beginning with primary schools.