Education has become an indispensable tool to guarantee the access of the most vulnerable people to the financial world and contribute to reducing inequality. It is a fact that having useful and affordable banking services translates into economic development for communities. As stated by the World Bank, “financial inclusion is a key facilitator to reduce poverty and promote prosperity.”
This year, the magazine specializing in finance and business, Euromoney, has awarded the Santander Bank the award for Best Bank in the World in Financial Inclusion for the second year in a row in their Awards for Excellence 2022, an award that makes visible the effort made by the entity through its different financial education programs in the different countries in which it operates. “Being recognized again by Euromoney is a great honor and recognition of the work of our teams in Latin America, the United States and Europe: 7.5 million people have benefited from our programs between 2019 and 2021”, said Ana Botín, president Of the entity.
In recent years, the group has positioned itself as a leader in microfinance in Latin America. These are small loans with which it helps more than a million entrepreneurs each year to create or grow their business with programs such as Tuiio Y prosper. Of these, a high percentage are women who are heads of households who, with their progress, help not only their families but also the development of their communities. The bank also has different initiatives underway in all its markets to help individuals and SMEs improve their access to financing and promote financial education.
In addition to the aforementioned microfinance programs in Mexico and Brazil, the entity has similar ones in El Salvador —Link-and in Peru with —Arise-. It is also committed to guaranteeing access to the financial system in Latin America through other projects such as superdigital, which allows underbanked people to make cash deposits, withdrawals and payments without having a bank account. This global platform completed its development in 2021 to offer digital wallets and payments to the low-income population. And in the last year, Santander has launched friends & family in Argentina and, more recently, in Colombia and Peru.
The financial inclusion is a strategic commitment at the global level of Banco Santander, which has marked the goal of financially empowering ten million people by 2025. And according to current data, it seems more than possible that this challenge will be largely overcome: between 2019 and 2021 it has already managed to benefit 7.4 million people through its policies and initiatives of access, financing and financial education in the different countries. in which it operates, which represents 74% of the goal set. In 2021 alone, Santander empowered 2.5 million people through its financial inclusion initiatives and measures as part of its Responsible Banking strategy.
Response to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine
The British magazine has also highlighted Banco Santander’s response to the crisis arising from the war in Ukraine, highlighting its humanitarian work with the award of Best Bank for Corporate Responsibility in Central and Eastern Europe. Since the beginning of the conflict, the Santander unit in Poland has focused its efforts on supporting the community and has worked with the United Nations Refugee Agency —UNHCR— to develop and implement a money access service in cash for refugees that allows them to get back on their feet once they arrive in Poland.
More than 222,000 refugees have registered to use this system, based on BLIK payment technology, during the nearly five months of operation. This emergency safety net covers basic needs like buying food and medicine or paying rent.
“Our teams won the award for their tireless work over the past five months helping Ukrainian refugees fleeing their homes and wanting to rebuild their lives. Unfortunately, this humanitarian crisis has taken root and families continue to face disruption, anguish and uncertainty. However, thanks to the commitment and hard work of our teams, we are making a difference for hundreds of thousands of them”, said Ana Botín.
In addition, hand in hand with the competent authorities, the bank has helped hundreds of refugees to reach Spain and Portugal. Among other performances, Santander allocated part of its headquarters in Boadilla del Monte (Madrid) as temporary accommodation for Ukrainian familiessuspended account and card fees for Ukrainian customers in Poland, and enabled free use of ATMs and continuous access to cash.
Anastassia Hrynzovska is one of the more than 200 people who have temporarily converted the facilities of Banco Santander’s corporate headquarters into a home. “When I look back I remember a lot of pain, uncertainty and suffering. We have had to leave our homes, our Ukraine. Everyone is helping us a lot, for which we can only say thank you.”
“We have been accompanied by the NGO Cear, which has helped us care for all these people. We have treated, especially, 25 child cancer patients. More than 100 volunteers from the bank have also passed through here to help us organize different activities: Spanish classes, yoga, dances for children, among others”, explains Belén Sánchez, director of general services of the Financial City.
Euromoney has also awarded Santander the award for Best Bank in Western Europe, in recognition of the support that the entity continues to provide to its clients in the region. In addition, he highlighted the bank’s work to help nearly two million SMEs to progress in Western Europe with the award Best Bank for SMEs. The awards are completed with: Best Bank in Argentina, Chile and UruguayY Best Investment Bank in Spain.