Queen Máxima to focus on financial services and financial health during visit to Colombia

From the afternoon of Sunday 25 February to Wednesday 28 February, Her Majesty Queen Máxima will be visiting Colombia in her role as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA). The main themes of her visit will be financial health and the further promotion of access to safe, affordable financial services.

On Monday the Queen will visit three projects near Medellín that provide digital financial products for specific target groups. The first, fintech company Avista, offers loans and advice to pensioners who want to start a business but have been turned down by a regular bank. Pensioners who become entrepreneurs contribute to the economy and pass on their knowledge and experience to their younger employees. The second project, Cooperativa [Noot AVT: er staat 'Cooperative' in NL] Financiera de Antioquia, is a financial cooperative of local governments working together to create economic prospects for people in lower-income groups, particularly women, and small businesses. Finally, Queen Máxima will visit a farm that has received technical assistance from a social enterprise called SiembraViva to convert to organic agriculture. This gives them a better outlook for the future. The fintech company Finaktiva supports this work, for example by providing finance to partners in the organic agriculture chain. In Medellín the Queen will meet with representatives of Bancolombia to discuss financial services.

Colombia has made good progress in the area of financial inclusion, with 60% of adults now holding a bank account compared to 39% in 2011 (Global Findex 2021, 2011). However, this growth has not occurred evenly, with small businesses, small farming operations, women and people living in remote areas still underserved. According to Findex, 64% of Colombian men have a bank account, but only 56% of women do. 

On Tuesday and Wednesday Queen Máxima will have several meetings in Bogotá to discuss financial inclusion and its relationship with financial health. More and more Colombians have a bank account that they can use to receive and transfer money, pay bills and build up a financial history. This helps them gain access to insurance, secure business and study loans and save for retirement. Services like these contribute to financial resilience, economic development and financial health. The UNSGSA Financial Health Working Group defines financial health as the extent to which a person or family can smoothly manage their current financial obligations, absorb financial shocks, stay on track to reach financial goals, and have confidence in their financial future. Both in her UN work and in the Netherlands, Queen Máxima advocates that financial health be a guiding principle in developing policy and financial products that meet users’ needs. 

During her visit to Colombia the Queen will also speak with President Gustavo Petro, Vice President and Minister of Equality and Equity Francia Márquez, Minister of Finance and Public Credit Ricardo Bonilla González, Governor of the Colombian central bank Leonardo Villar and Head of Colombia’s financial supervisory authority César Ferrari. She will also join roundtable talks with development partners and representatives of financial institutions and fintech companies. On Wednesday morning the Queen will open the ‘Payments for Financial Inclusion’ fintech conference, during which she will stress the importance of tailor-made financial products. 

Queen Máxima will be accompanied on her visit by representatives of the Reference Group with which she has collaborated closely since 2009, including the Better Than Cash Alliance, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, and the World Bank. She previously visited Colombia as UNSGSA in 2014.

Government Information Service, no. 47