The BBVA Microfinance Foundation held the event ‘Connected by the digital opportunity’, to talk about how a more innovative and inclusive economy can be promoted, through a technology that leaves no one behind.
In the opening speech, Doña Letizia highlighted the need to connect everyone since the digital divide “is a very fine line between being left out or not from access to many services, such as knowledge or education.”
In addition, he pointed out that closing this inequality is “an issue that has to do with human rights, as recognized by the United Nations, and that is projected in the actions promoted by the BBVA Microfinance Foundation.”
For his part, the president of BBVA assured: “We banks have a responsibility to society, we must generate a positive impact on people’s lives. That is why we work for an inclusive development that leaves no one behind ”. During his speech, Carlos Torres Vila emphasized the work of the BBVA Microfinance Foundation, “which accompanies millions of low-income people in Latin America, to boost the productivity of their small businesses through business training and digital skills, as well as financial education, to promote truly inclusive economic and social growth ”.
The digital opportunity to leave no one behind
“Despite the fact that 94% of the world’s population lives in covered areas, 43% still do not access the internet. The challenge today is to close the digital usage gap, which is seven times larger than the coverage gap, ”said GSMA CEO Mats Granryd. As he said, “illiteracy and lack of digital skills, along with cost, remain the main barriers to accessing the internet.”
These obstacles are the ones that hinder the digitization of the 2.7 million low-income people served by the BBVA Microfinance Foundation in five Latin American countries (Colombia, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Chile and Panama).
The general director of the FMBBVA, Javier M. Flores, spoke of the progress achieved despite these limitations: “We have developed technological solutions to bring financial services and training to our entrepreneurs, so that they join the digital transformation and that Both they and their families take advantage of all its advantages ”.
At this meeting, the pilot project that the Foundation has launched in Colombia and Peru to expand internet access in remote areas of these countries through satellite connectivity was announced.
This initiative already has an impact on more than 2,000 people and is allowing the care we provide to be better and more convenient for them, and that they can also access the information they need and quality training under the same conditions as in the areas more populated ”, explained Javier M. Flores.
For her part, Greta Bull, with a long career in development finance at the World Bank and recently appointed Director of Women’s Economic Empowerment at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, reminded those present that “technology is part of the solution, but it is only a tool ”and that“ a tangible change in social and economic progress requires knowing very well the context in which it operates ”.
The challenge of including those who are disconnected today interests, more and more, the great technological disruptors, who see it as a business opportunity, as well as a social responsibility. The CEO of OneWeb, Neil Masterson, spoke about how they hope to reduce the internet access gap: “We work in partnership with local mobile operators to maximize the impact, since they are the ones who have the experience on the ground and know the realities. of the companies and communities we have to reach ”. According to him, the agreements also allow it to scale its business model and offer more competitive prices, adapted to the purchasing power of vulnerable populations. Regarding the future of satellite connection, Masterson has insisted that “there is a digital divide in all countries and satellite communications are a way to reach, on a large scale, those who are disconnected.”
In this meeting, chaired by Her Majesty the Queen, the president of BBVA, Carlos Torres Vila; the deputy governor of the Bank of Spain, Margarita Delgado; and the CEO of the FMBBVA, Javier M. Flores, in addition to other leading technology and development organizations such as GSMA, OneWeb and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.