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News tagged as "Spain"
March 12, 2014
Tags: microfinance, Masters, Spain | by Diana Schvarztein


In recent decades, microfinance has expanded all over the world as a tool to promote entrepreneurship, as well as social and financial inclusion of society’s most marginalized members. At present, microfinance programmes are attempting to improve the living conditions of more than 200 million poor families.

The International Master in Microfinance for Entrepreneurship (6th edition) offers specialized up-to-date and high quality training in microfinance, starting late October 2014 until May 2015. 

This Master programme is lectured 100% in English by main experts and professionals of the microfinance sector. It is targeted towards students and professionals who desire to work in microfinance institutions, banks, NGOs or international agencies. Most of our students are currently performing middle management and leadership positions in the sector worldwide.

Take a look at the programme and be one of the first to enrol.

December 17, 2013

Tecnocom Report on Payment Trends, 2013

Tags: payment instruments, Latin America, Spain | by Afi, Analistas Financieros Internacionales

Tecnocom and Afi have presented their 2013 Tecnocom Report: Trends in Payment Instruments on 16 December. This is the third edition of a study that has become a benchmark for followers of payment developments in Spain and Latin America.

The presentation ceremony was presided by Ladislao Azcona, president of Tecnocom, and was attended by Javier Rey, managing director of banking and insurance at Tecnocom; Emilio Ontiveros, president of Afi; Álvaro Martín, director of international affairs at Afi; Miguel Angel Prieto, director of business development at Tecnocom; and Javier Martín, CEO of Tecnocom.

Executive summary

October 30, 2013

Celebrating the Fourth meeting of the Spanish Microfinance Network

Tags: microfinance, Spain, remEX, strategic planning, performance | by Verónica López Sabater

The IV annual meeting of the Spanish  Microfinance Network (remEX) took place last Wednesday, October 23th. It was the first time this year that all members and observators could meet face to face.

Besides being a pleasure to have the opportunity to share physical space and time with remEX members and observers, we had the chance of discussing for about three hours the issues that we all had agreed to discuss:

  • review of the strategic plan,
  • presentation of the network's performance indicators,
  • presentation of this year's activity of the 4 working groups, and
  • expectations and challenges for 2014 , among which includes greater dissemination of the knowledge generated within existing working groups.


In this occasion, Afi's School of Applied Finance Afi allowed us to occupy their facilities to accommodate the 23 members and 8 observers who today form the remEX, many of whom had to travel from across the country to attend the meeting.

The next meeting will take place in the first half of 2014 .

July 19, 2013

Microfinance back and forth: development potential of migrants

Tags: microfinance, migrants, Spain | by Inma Martín Alegre, Servei Solidari

The economic crisis and the productive return

The organizations - as ours - that are dedicated to working with people of foreign origin living in Spain, have observed in the last two years a new situation concerning this collective. Migrants are now planning to return to their home countries to settle permanently.

The feasibility of a permanent return to the home country takes the lead in an environment of economic crisis in Spain, which has generated a dramatic loss of jobs in sectors where these people were hired mostly (such as construction).

Many of their countries of origin (in which migrants have decisively influenced the impact of remittances) are currently enjoying a phase of economic emergence. Adding personal constraints such as physical separation from family, the opportunity of a new (return) migratory process becomes more than reasonable for them.  

This process implies, indeed, a rearrangement of expectations and the design of a new life project. Many of these people are over 40 years old and present a low-employability profile in a new dynamic and demanding labor market. On the other hand, the same migration project in Spain has involved training and experience in new professional areas. The migrant then decides to create its own source of income:  the productive return is one of the most popular choices.

In these cases, although the person holds savings or some capital from the state program that enables the recovery of the capitalization of unemployment benefits in their country of origin, most of them need external financing.  Without it, the business project they have in mind will not be achievable.    

An opportunity to be grasped by MFIs

The financial systems of these countries conceive credit customers only those who can present a credit profile not only suitable but who can prove a minimum time of residence in the country. This policy also applies in the context of microfinance institutions, which would finance specially those projects which are not starts-up but have been operating at least for one year minimum.  


The migrant is left in a situation, therefore, obliged to necessarily devote the total amount saved to be invested in his/her business if s/he wants to start working immediately after returning home. Otherwise the business project results in a much smaller and precarious initiative than the initial project or the migrant will survive for a while with his savings, waiting to reach the required risk profile for accessing a loan.

The possibility of having this group as clients is an option that some MFIs have begun to value. From the commercial point of view is certainly a large market niche for several reasons. First, migrants can capitalize part of their remittances before returning through transfers to an account in their name. They are an important customer group that would generate revenue in the form of savings. Secondly migrants in Spain have savings to be transferred at the time they return to their home country.The beneficial impact for the migrants is evident as they can start planning their business ventures before returning and consequently organize their personal finances according to the future situation.

For this to happen, MFIs and lenders must be able to establish the necessary processes to disseminate information on the availability of these products and to facilitate and expedite the paperwork.

Migrant organizations in Spain are undoubtedly allied to achieving this ultimate goal as they guarantee capacity to disseminate information to potential recipients.

With the support of new technologies, by promoting the accessibility of management through the use of internet and smartphones such processes would be reasonably simple to implement and would respond finally to a clear need for this large group of people .

April 8, 2013

Do microfinance & entrepreneurship make sense in Spain?

Tags: microfinance, development, entrepreneurship, Latin America, Spain, microenterprises | by Pilar Vereda del Abril, Ibero-American Foundation for Development (FIDE)

At the Foundation, we do believe our large experience is useful. Fundación Iberoamericana para el Desarrollo (FIDE) is working for longer than 20 years in the field of development cooperation and we consider that we have generated true development from the bottom and from the inside of Latin America. This is the model of development we promote. 

Our global world has been conceived from the top, by accumulating knowledge, technology and the interests of foreign powers, as well as local powers in developing countries. This conception of the world was imposed to some countries and cultures that did not take part of the capitalism’s core because they were just marginal or ex colonies. This model has created economic and social injustice in the world's population where the majority are in poverty and financial exclusion. Considering this situation, we at FIDE have been making proposals to make those majorities able to create their own development from the bottom and from the inside, so they have the ability to change their circumstances, the power to lead their destiny and the opportunity to design their lives.  

We propose a "from bottom" perspective to make them possible to access knowledge and technology dia and, "from the inside", we mean from their own initiatives and their own cultures to achieve its own development in harmony with nature. We make these proposals because we learned it of the majorities, because we have lived with their struggle against poverty and we checked their extraordinary life force to create their own destinies and jobs. Entrepreneurship allows for the change in the circumstances of poverty, creates wealth, and triggers development. 

Over the years FIDE foundation has supported NGO, microfinance institutions and credit unions and has created community banks, using different microfinance tools such as revolving funds, seeds banks, time banks, value chains and microcredit in such a way that from the informal economy - which is marginalization, creation, and at the same time an expression of the dynamism of civil society- three essential figures were born to fight poverty: entrepreneurs, microenterprises and microfinance

FIDE believes that first of all, development depends on the will, effort and talent of the people and their own political, social and productive organizations, besides their natural resources, the market and foreign aid. The key in development is promoting access to education, technical training, socio - cultural assets and also providing finance to allow carry out these ideas.

microentrepreneurs in Latin America

Entrepreneurs have shown that they are the new agents of development, because they produce radical changes in society, politics and culture, in production, in the market and in the territory. Most of them are self-employed and create micro-enterprises in their efforts to escape poverty, and their small income comes from the sale of products, goods or services in uncertain markets. 

Could this development model be of any use in our society? Is the Spanish society aware that entrepreneurship and a participative attitude is needed for developing from the bottom and from the inside? Is our society aware that our crisis provides useful lessons to learn from?  Is our society aware that we cannot afford to fall into the same mistakes of generating a development process from the top and from outside? 

We at FIDE do and wonder why the current policy for entrepreneurship promotion in Spain is not taking into account all the lessons learned that people and NGO have learned through creating and supporting entrepreneurs and using microfinance as a way of funding, participation and development. 

We must remind that starting a venture involves assuming risks, putting ideas into practice, know-how to translate them properly into reality and having the resources (and the ability to manage them properly).

FIDE does that together with our local partners in what we call directional centres or centres for entrepreneurship, where we work to promote entrepreneurial attitude among young people, by encouraging and nurturing ideas and initiatives with market research studies, training people of all ages to make them capable of adequately translate their business plans into initiatives. We carry out technical assessments to help them get the best financing, and we advise and accompany them for at least three years to make their project of life a success and achieve the goals set for their personal development. In that way, we expect to influence Spain’s development by generating work earnings and wealth.

January 21, 2013

Microfinance in Spain needs regulation

Tags: microfinance, Spain, regulation | by Jaime Durán Navarro, Foro de MicroFinanzas. Translation by Mª Teresa González López

The current economic and financial situation in Spain has made microfinance activity necessary. Microfinance is addressed to support those who want to start, or make a small business grow, in order to improve their living standards, and cannot obtain any financing in the formal financial system because they lack collaterals or guarantees. The drama in our country is that lots of people who are willing to work are financially excluded. Microcredit can be that little help they need to move forward

Moreover, many of these people who receive social benefits would be pleased to exchange them for the chance to start their own business. However, we cannot make the mistake of believing that they only need a small loan from a bank. What they really need is the support and advice of a Microfinance Institution (MFI), not the help of a traditional financial one. This MFI could help, and even train them, to succeed in the development of their project. The biggest difference between a Microfinance Institution and a traditional financial institution  is that the first one has the objective of providing all the support necessary to improve these peoples’ lives. The social goal is what differentiates the microfinance sector from the financial sector, as Peace Nobel Prize Muhammad Yunus proposed when he firstly conceived microcredits. 

Spain allocates over 433 million euros1 to support microfinance in developing countries through AECID (Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development). However, the Spanish microfinance sector suffered a big loss with the collapse of the Spanish Savings Banks. In 2009, the peak of microfinance within Spain’s boundaries, 5,172 microcredits were given, reaching almost 46.6 million euros. In contrast, during the same period in France the amount exceeded 152 million euros, a disbursement of 28,863 microcredits2.

As it was outlined in the First National Microfinance Meeting, organized by the Foro de MicroFinanzas in September 2010, microcredits disbursed in Spain since 2001 have been conceded mainly by the Obra Social arm of Savings Banks (the Corporate Social Responsibility division). Social institutions such as NGOs and foundations had normally provided social support and guidance to Savings Banks in return for grants. In Spain, social institutions cannot legally provide micro loans as a main activity despite having the face-to-face relationship with the potential beneficiaries. This is the main reason why institutions rely on commercial banks or on public administrations to develop their microfinance projects. To sum up: in Spain we cannot find any proper Microfinance Institutions (MFI) legally authorized to concede microcredit loans for social purposes.

The members present in the First National Microfinance Meeting created a working group with the goal of promoting Spanish Microfinance Legislation. This legislation would then set a frame where MFI in our country could start with the aim of providing microfinance services to promote self‑employment and entrepreneurship culture among those financial and socially excluded. Since September 2012, this working group, composed by more than 30 different organizations, meets periodically with the purpose of  working side by side in the development of this new legislation. The working group is also in contact with more than a hundred entities representing the whole sector, as well as being connected to every single social and political movement (from Savings Banks, NGOs, foundations, universities, consultants, women associations, law firms, immigrant associations, Social European Forum representatives or city councils, to people from commercial banks or ministries). In addition, this group collaborates with some European Institutions, and with the European Microfinance Network. The main objective of the group is to guarantee that all the European funds available that are not reaching our institutions because specific MFI do not exist, could be assigned to Spanish organizations in the future.

This working group is finding inspiration in legislations developed in the last few years in some other European countries. In some cases, they are deciding to imitate the good practices while in others they are learning examples of what to avoid. The main model we are following is the French regulation, not only because it managed to make a big part of the shadow economy come to light, but also because it is a great example of the commitment of all the institutions involved, locally, nationally and even at a European level. The reason for this implication is quite simple: giving people tools to start working instead of having them receiving social subsidies benefits not only individuals but also society as a whole.

In April 2012, the Second National Microfinance Meeting was held. In this second meeting we assessed and continued the work that had begun in the First National Microfinance Meeting. We learned from the experiences of international experts and we also evaluated the goals reached, as well as adopting the Microfinance Bill for Spain  unanimously.  Now we would like to submit the bill to the political institutions to make microfinance in Spain a reality, so that we can start building a genuine microfinance industry that we believe essential for the future well-being of Spain.

1 AECID Microcredit Fund at December 2011. Active portfolio.

2 European Microfinance Network enquiry, conducted by Fundación Nantik Lum, Spain.

December 12, 2012


Tags: payment instruments, Latin America, Spain | by Álvaro Martín Enríquez
The TECNOCOM Report on Trends in Payment Instruments 2012 was presented yesterday. The Report was commissioned to Afi, Analistas Financieros Internacionales S.A., founding member of remEX.  

Let us start with a few “Highlights of the Tecnocom Report 2012” and an invitation to read the full document here.  



Over the past twelve months, some of the trends flagged in our first Tecnocom Report gained traction, while other new developments emerged. The intensity and scope of the changes being wrought by technological innovation, the effort being made by governments to foster the use of electronic payment instruments, the attempts by sector players to build a new mobile payments ecosystem and ongoing shifts in consumer preferences prompt the need to analyze where the industry is headed in Latin America and Spain. 

One of the issues most commented on by the executives working in the payment instruments industry across Latin America is regional financial development, often underpinned by significant support from the authorities. The launch of basic savings accounts and the switch from cash to electronic instruments for the settlement of government support (G2P) payments are two good examples of how the financial sector is reaching out to the masses. Retailers, meanwhile, have played a key role in extending the use of electronic payment instruments in several countries. At present we are witnessing migration away from private label cards to international payment gateways. 

Executives in the Spanish payments industry stress that despite the profound economic crisis engulfing the country, which is taking a toll on consumer spending and driving a reduction in the number of active cards, payments using electronic instruments continue to rise as the cash substitution phenomenon continues. This gradual shift is logical in a country that is highly banked and in which credit cards are more often seen as a payment instrument than as a financing tool. 

On both sides of the Atlantic, the executives interviewed believe that it will take several more years for NFC technology to take significant hold. However, many see contactless technology as a first step, and one that will be a reality in Spain in the near term and in Latin America in the medium run. Notably, even before NFC takes off, we are witnessing a race by all sorts of players (international payment brands, telecommunications operators, banks, Internet companies) to launch e-wallets. Against this backdrop, it is hardly surprising that the executives interviewed for this report highlighted the importance of newcomers to the market, which include recently-created brands such as China Union Pay, the Chinese market leader, which has also been flexing its muscles in broader Asia of late. 

One of the trends common to all the countries analyzed, particularly Spain and Portugal, is the significant decline in the use of checks, the most expensive non-cash instrument from a processing standpoint. The gradual decline of the check contrasts with the dynamic growth in credit transfers, which have achieved notable prominence. In fact, credit transfers accounted for 77.9% of total payment transactions by value (USD9.38 billion) in Latin America in 2011. This growth has been largely powered by the development of automated clearinghouses (ACH) that process the electronic fund transfer orders placed by the banks or their clients, natural and legal persons alike. Growth in direct debits, however, has lagged; this form of payment barely surpassed USD21 billion in 2011.




Analyzing these payment transaction figures by volume reveals that cards take precedence, being used in more than half of electronic transactions (specifically 59.2% for the six Latin American countries analyzed). This phenomenon is attributable to growth in card usage but also to an increase of cards in circulation, particularly in Brazil.

The most important factors contributing to this surge in Latin America include growth in employment and GDP per capita, a growing culture of finance among lower-income earners, driven by the efforts and campaigns conducted by governments, banks and retailers, and the progress made on financial inclusion. On the latter front, countries such as Brazil, Colombia and Mexico have championed noteworthy and large-scale initiatives to ensure that government transfers to households under various social welfare programs take the form of electronic payments.  

Read more

September 28, 2012

A Warm Welcome to the Spanish Microfinance Network ¿ REMEX

We are happy to have contributed to the creation of this space for meeting, sharing, coll

Initiative financed by: Initiative financed by AECID
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