Monday, October 17, 2005

Banco Uno Panama and Banco Uno El Salvador are granted a seven-year loan totaling USD 27.5 million by the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) and its German partner DEG. The loan is to be used to extend Banco Uno’s credit card services to lower-income households. This will give many such households in Central America for the first time access to financial services. This will allow them to borrow and save money and thus gain access to the formal economy.

Grupo Financiero Uno provides financial services by making credit cards available to low and middle-income households. Banco Uno has been highly successful in reaching these groups. For many of them the Uno credit card represents their first dealings with a bank. In providing the credit card Banco Uno is opening up its financial services to families on lower incomes as well. FMO Investment Officer Jaap Reinking: “For households on a lower income a credit card opens the door to all sorts of opportunities and increases the living standard for a low-income household significantly. Apart from lower-income households many small entrepreneurs also make use of the credit card services in order to finance their businesses.”

Senior Investment Manager Thomas Kessler, DEG, adds: “It must also be emphasized that Banco Uno attaches great importance to closely accompanying its borrowers, among other things by informing them in detail on the responsible use of credit cards. Being the first long-term international financing to Banco Uno, the loan provided by DEG and FMO will have a signaling effect, encouraging further investments into technological innovations.”

Banco Uno Panama and Banco Uno El Salvador form part of the regional group Grupo Financiero Uno. This financial group operates a regional network throughout Central America providing financial services to millions of households. The Managing Director of Banco Uno Panam?, Juan Antonio Ni?o, comments: “Our financial institutions in Central America and Panama have been providing services for over 15 years to the inhabitants in this region by the promotion of banking for the majority of the employees there. The funding we have received from FMO and DEG will be directly used to provide financial services on behalf of the majority of the employees in Central America and Panama.” FMO will also help Banco Uno meet high international standards in the field of corporate governance, for example by forming an enterprise with a single holding company and an independent Board of Directors.

The Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) is the international development bank of the Netherlands. FMO invests risk capital in companies and financial institutions in developing countries. With an investment portfolio of EUR 2 billion, FMO is one of the largest bilateral development banks worldwide. FMO’s mission: to create flourishing enterprises, which can serve as engines of sustainable growth in their countries.

DEG, member of KfW Bankengruppe (KfW banking group), is one of the largest European development finance institutions. So far, DEG has worked together with more than 1,200 companies. By providing 6.2 billion euros of finance, a total investment of 41 billions euros could be mobilized. DEG’s aim is to establish and expand private enterprise structures in developing and transition countries, and thus create the basis for sustainable economic growth and a lasting improvement in the living conditions of the local population.

Source: Finance for Development (link opens in a new window)