How is your commitment to continuing attracting and promoting business in Panama?
We have been part of the Bancolombia Group for five years. Actually, we have managed throughout our experience to consolidate the operation as a relevant bank in Panama, not only because of our participation in the market, but also because of our commitment to the projects in the sectors that lead the country's economic growth. Furthermore, we are a bank committed to the sustainable economic and social development of Panama. In fact, we are headed in the right direction to consolidate our operation as a universal bank proposal, even more when Panama currently has many investment opportunities at the infrastructure level and other major projects.
What does the news of the biggest bond issuance in Panama mean?
The government of Panama is a great client for our operation in the country, and we have managed this dual issuance for USD1 billion that was placed both on the international and local markets. This participation demonstrates that we have laid the foundations as a financial group that allow us to support the government of our country in its projects, issuances, and capital needs. This is the result of several years of work. We are proud of being chosen due to the reputation and the trajectory of Grupo Bancolombia in the region.
What are your thoughts on the Panamanian economy?
Latin America is still deficient in infrastructure investment, and Panama has a great track record, so we have traditionally been an ally for these projects, either via the government or the private company that bids on these projects. There are large investments to be made, and we are poised to support the commercial sector and even participate in the free trade zones. Free zones have historically been a competitive advantage of Panama, and this sector still has business opportunities. In fact, we and our clients still find opportunities to serve them. Finally, we are committed to working on value proposals that allow us to be a relevant player in the financial sector for every Panamanian or resident.
How are you providing digital and innovative tools?
We were the first bank in Panama with fintech. Consumers dictate how they want to relate to the financial industry. In fact, Nequi was the first value proposition in the Panamanian market that associated a fintech with a bank. For two years, we have educated consumers. We are pleased because we closed the month of April with 60,000 clients on the platform. This has been a learning process along with the operation of our digital sales portals. Hence, we are committed to transforming ourselves constantly to encourage users to think of the bank as a new way of doing business, with players and alliances. This is the result of investing heavily in the bank's innovation culture.
How is the bank fostering gender equality?
We are a bank that works hard for gender equality. I am proud to say that we are part of the advisory board on gender parity. This has translated into signing the seal of equality. Under our proposal of Impulsa, we are leading a program that is aimed at female entrepreneurs. We have reached more than 1,000 women in education programs. This means working with 25 female entrepreneurs to give them formal training so that they can realize their projects and ensure their undertakings are sustained over time. Also, we count among our facilities more than 900 employees who participate in volunteer activities. The goal for 2019 is for 55% of our workforce to actively participate in volunteer activities. Social responsibility and sustainability are the only way to do business.