In July 2012, Accion launched Avanza – an innovative new service that aims to make the microfinance lending process easier and more efficient for everyone involved. Working with our Colombian partner, Finamérica, Avanza uses mobile teams of loan officers and a risk-adjusted approach to reach, enroll and process loan applications from new and existing clients. The program has already reduced the disbursement time from the average five days to as little as 24 hours. Our goal is for a client to be able to meet with a loan officer in the morning and have credit by late that afternoon. Thanks to its efficiency and credit methodology, the program holds the promise of making microloans a more cost-effective service for clients and institutions alike.

Since launching, Avanza has already benefitted more than 6,492 clients. In 2013 alone, Avanza disbursed $9.37 million in loans to 5,811 clients.

Meet an Avanza Client

Picture of Carmen Adelia Castillo serving empanadasCarmen Adelia Castillo supplies homemade empanadas to local schools, businesses, cafeterias and special events from her home in Bogota. A former street vendor, Carmen had previously taken out a loan with another bank but found the application and repayment process “harder than giving birth.” As an entrepreneur who wakes up at 3:00 a.m., Carmen needs every hour of her day, and the time-consuming administrative challenges of dealing with more conventional lending practices came at too great a cost to her business.

Fortunately, she heard about Avanza, which made every step of the loan process easier: her loan was disbursed quickly, loan officers met Carmen in her neighborhood or at her house, and she makes payments at a local Finamérica branch or point-of-service nearby. Ten million pesos (about U.S. $5,500) and three months later, Carmen has repaired her kitchen’s roof and bought a fryer machine to replace the pots she and her eight employees previously had to tend to manually.