Financial empowerment is critical for a prosperous society. To improve access to financial products and services, Santander created the Prospera programme, a microcredit platform through which we contribute to the growth of small businesses without access to the financial system.
Today, financial inclusion is one of the big challenges for companies, institutions and governments. There are estimated to be more than two billion people without access to basic financial services. Having access to these services helps improve the living conditions of vulnerable groups. In this context, microcredit has become an essential tool for favouring the financial inclusion of the most disadvantaged societies.
To contribute to the progress of people without access to financial products, Santander has programmes such as Prospera, an initiative that drives the growth of small businesses in Brazil through microcredit. In 2018 alone, we helped 100,000 entrepreneurs with little financial capacity in the Latin American country to boost their businesses.
70% of these microcredits goes to helping entrepreneurs with small businesses – mostly seamstresses, waitresses or saleswomen – to finance their enterprise expenses and to grow professionally, thanks to financing for purchasing machinery, refurbishing facilities or creating a new project.
One of these female entrepreneurs is Dona Valderine. She has always loved baking, which is why she decided to start selling her cakes. At first, she made the products at home, in a small kitchen, and only sold to friends and neighbours. With the support of the Prospera initiative, she was able to hire a premises and buy materials and equipment to make more products. Now she makes more than 100 cakes a week and employs one person at her establishment. She assures us that this is just the start of her growth.
Another female entrepreneur helped by Prospera is Rosa Mesquita. She had been selling books door-to-door for some time, to help her father provide for their family. It had always been her dream to be a teacher and have her own nursery school for impoverished children. A few years ago, she gained access to a Santander microcredit and was able to build a classroom with the money. Rosa currently teaches more than 90 children whose families cannot pay for them to go to school.
Dona and Rosa, and hundreds of other Prospera users have managed to make progress and help their communities prosper. In the words of our Group executive chairman, Ana Botín: "This is responsible banking in action: helping people to make their dreams come true, supporting the creation of new jobs and new opportunities, and in this way share the benefits of economic growth."