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Bolivian and Colombian institutions win the Inter-American awards for Microenterprise Development

Costa Rica’s President Laura Chinchilla and IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno to honor winners during the Inter-American Forum on Microenterprise in San José, Costa Rica, next month

Banco FIE S.A. of Bolivia, FMM Popayán, a non-governmental organization from Colombia, and CABEXSE, a Bolivian export association, have won this year’s Inter-American Awards for Microenterprise Development for their excellence in providing support to microenterprises in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The winners will be honored during the inauguration of the 2011 XIV Inter-American Forum on Microenterprise (Foromic), in San José on October 10th, an event that will have the participation of Costa Rica’s President Laura Chinchilla and IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno. Foromic and the Inter-American Awards for Microenterprise Development are organized by the IDB Group’s Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), the largest provider of technical assistance for private sector development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“This year’s winners have excelled in creating innovative and effective financial products supporting more than half a million microentrepreneurs in rural and urban areas”, said Nancy Lee, MIF's General Manager. “They impressively demonstrate that innovation and financial inclusion can be a promising strategy for growth and development of microenterprises, and the economy as a whole.”

Banco FIE S.A. is the largest Bolivian microfinance institution, focusing on providing financial services to low-income households and micro and small enterprises. It has won this year’s award for best microfinance institution because of its diverse product portfolio tailored to meet clients’ needs, its expansion and outreach into underserved urban and rural markets, as well as its commitment to customer service and transparency, which allows FIE to offer some of the lower active interest rates in the country and in the entire region.

FMM Popayán, one of the largest microfinance institutions in Colombia focusing on agricultural loans, has won the award for best rural microfinance institution. FFM Popayán is deepening rural markets successfully serving more than 60,000 rural borrowers with a range of lending products using both individual and village banking methodologies.

Finally, CABEXSE of Bolivia has won the award for excellence in enterprise development services, which this year looked at sustainable inclusion in agricultural value chains. CABEXSE is an association of exporters of sesame products that provides effective coordination along the value chain, linking all of the actors, including small producers, while achieving a large scale and high-quality production capacity.

Each of the winners will receive a special recognition from the Citi Foundation, one of the sponsors of the 2011 Foromic, which will provide certificates for specialized leadership training from Women’s World Banking, Red Financiera Rural, and the SEEP Network.

Excellence in Local Entrepreneurship

Besides sponsoring Foromic, Citi Foundation also sponsors the award for excellence in local entrepreneurship. This year’s award will recognize a Costa Rican entrepreneur, who not only has shown an entrepreneurial spirit and managed to grow her business but is also committed to community development. This year’s winner, to be announced on October 10th, will be selected from a list of seven finalists, which have been selected by the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Commerce (MEIC), Asociación ADRI and Citi Foundation. These finalists are already winners of local entrepreneurship awards for specific categories: retail, services, industry, tourism, female entrepreneur and environment.

More than 1,200 participants are expected to attend the 14th edition of the Foromic, the leading annual conference on microenterprise in Latin America and the Caribbean, which will take place on October 10-12 in San José, Costa Rica.

The winners

Banco FIE S.A.

Since 1985, this institution has focused in providing credit to populations with no access to the financial system in Bolivia. It started its work as a non-governmental organization, and later on it evolved into a private financial fund and now as a bank. Banco FIE, built ground-up by Bolivians, serves an important share of urban microentrepreneurs and has also been progressively penetrating underserved rural areas. Due to a branch and points of service expansion strategy, Banco FIE provides a wide array of flexible financial products that are continuously adapted to fit a very diverse urban and rural clientele. The bank puts special emphasis on customer service and transparency. It is the largest Bolivian MFI with over 160,000 borrowers and a gross portfolio of more than US$480 million. The institution has won last year’s MIF award for best practices in social performance.

FMM Popayán

FMM Popayán is a non-governmental organization that has developed over time to become one of the largest players in the Colombian microfinance market, with more than 350,000 clients. It is also one of the largest rural MFIs in the region, serving over 60,000 rural borrowers. FMM Popayán's strategy is to expand its products into rural areas through a range of lending products using individual and village banking methodologies. Three years ago, it began setting up a network of branches in countryside areas and developing a methodology for offering agricultural loans. FMM Popayán has flexibility in collection, adaptability to this economic sector, agriculture specialists trained as credit officers and very short period responses, achievements that show a will to innovate in order to serve an important production sector of its country. During the last semester, FMM Popayán disbursed close to 19,000 agricultural loans totaling more than US$16 million.

CABEXSE

CABEXSE is an association of exporters of sesame products that strengthens coordination within the value chain to promote growth of the sesame industry. Through a model of financial innovation and inclusion, CABEXSE has reached 25,000 small producers in rural areas. Over a 10-year period, it has brought the sesame production to an annual level of 30,000 tons exporting to markets such as Japan, Korea, the Middle East, and Germany. The initiative focuses on strengthening the long-term business relationship between processors and producers by fostering the provision of technical assistance and resource-provision contracting.

About Citi Foundation

The Citi Foundation is committed to the economic empowerment of individuals and families, particularly those in need, in the communities where we work so that they can improve their standard of living. Globally, the Citi Foundation targets its strategic giving on its priority focus areas: Microfinance and Microenterprise, Small and Growing Businesses, Education, and Financial Education and Asset Building. The Citi Foundation works with its partners in Microfinance and Microenterprise and Small and Growing Businesses to support environmental programs and innovations. Additional information can be found at www.citifoundation.com.

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