The Express Tour of Express Microfinanzas

By David Humphries, Director of Global Communications in Bogota, Colombia

Diego Durante, General Manager of Express Microfinanzas, and John Forman, Global Communities Country Director.
Diego Durante, General Manager of Express Microfinanzas, and John Forman, Global Communities Country Director.

Express Microfinanzas recently opened its new offices in the heart of the Kennedy locality in south-west Bogota, the most populous locality in the city, where its clients live and work. The new offices are in an area of town full of people going about their lives of buying and selling goods, people whose need of working capital is not catered for by traditional banks. Express Microfinanzas’ staff reflects its clients – 57 percent are women – and its 90 employees are recruited from the local communities and trained in our specific approach to lending, to ensure that we meet both financial and social needs.

Express Microfinanzas began in 2004 as “Microdes,” part of a larger USAID-funded income generation program implemented by Global Communities (then CHF International). Ten years later it has gone through many incarnations as it has met the evolving market around it. In 2009, Express Microfinanzas had 1,300 clients and a portfolio of US$1.5 million; today it has nearly 8,000 clients and a portfolio of US$9 million. Of those clients, the repayment rate is more than 96 percent.Express Microfinanzas recently opened its new offices in the heart of the Kennedy locality in south-west Bogota, the most populous locality in the city, where its clients live and work. The new offices are in an area of town full of people going about their lives of buying and selling goods, people whose need of working capital is not catered for by traditional banks. Express Microfinanzas’ staff reflects its clients – 57 percent are women – and its 90 employees are recruited from the local communities and trained in our specific approach to lending, to ensure that we meet both financial and social needs.

Express Microfinanzas offices
The new Express Microfinanzas offices, beside the type of shops that are their clients.

Express Microfinanzas’s goal by 2016 is to more than double those clients. In order to achieve this, Express Microfinanzas recently transformed from being a Global Communities’ program into a separate company owned by Global Communities. The aim of this is to make it possible to attract additional funding from outside investors so that Express Microfinanzas can reach more clients and help more of those who have been unable to get the credit they need for working capital and capital expenditures related to their businesses. But the team, led by Diego Durante, General Manager, are working to make sure that this transition is purely behind the scenes and that its clients can expect the same personalized, socially-driven customer relationships that they have always experienced. The biggest change they should have experienced is the move of Express Microfinanzas’ offices several blocks into accommodations that better suit their clients’ needs.