Access to banking services: Camilo Atala’s recommendation for UN conversations on development financing

Camilo Atala, Central American, Grupo Financiero Ficohsa, SMEs

According to Camilo Atala, President of Grupo Financiero Ficohsa, while the United Nations General Assembly meets in New York to discuss global development, delegates should not overlook the importance of financial services for small businesses in emerging economies.

The current context and the migration crisis

For Atala, it is crucial that participants in the High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development, convened at the United Nations General Assembly, are fully aware of the growing global migration crisis. This issue is particularly urgent at the southern border of the United States, where Central American families continue to arrive in large numbers.

In this regard, the solution to curb migration lies in providing small businesses with the necessary financial services for their development. Therefore, he emphasizes that it is important for the current debate on development financing to include concrete proposals in which the United Nations can provide its support.

The crucial role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

Honduran entrepreneur Camilo Atala emphasizes that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are an integral part of economies worldwide, especially in Central America. These businesses generate employment, income, and tax revenues, and play a crucial role in fighting poverty in a region facing significant socioeconomic challenges.

SMEs, which serve as incubators for entrepreneurs, introduce new products and services to the market, drive technological innovation, and foster competition. Additionally, they allow countries to diversify from traditional industries, helping economies become more resilient. They also drive exports to new markets and generate foreign exchange.

Camilo Atala discusses the challenges faced by SMEs in Central America

In Central America, SMEs face various challenges, such as small domestic markets, inadequate transportation infrastructure, unreliable energy supply, and irregular Wi-Fi connectivity. These challenges are exacerbated by high crime rates, corruption, social unrest, and political instability.

The United Nations and its member countries, especially the United States, can provide valuable support by enabling financial institutions in Central America to provide improved access to financial services for small businesses.

The role of the UN in sustainable development

Promoting the growth of financial services in developing countries is crucial to support the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. According to Camilo Atala, expanding financial inclusion is an essential part of reducing poverty and inequality.

Bank support for farmers can contribute to combating hunger, while promoting financial products and services specifically targeted at women can ensure greater gender equality in the financial sector. Additionally, banks support job creation and entrepreneurship, finance investments in infrastructure, and support renewable energy projects. However, more can be done.

Technical assistance and capacity development

Finally, Camilo Atala insists that the UN should provide greater technical assistance and capacity development to strengthen the regulatory framework and governance of the financial sector in Central America, as this ensures its stability, resilience, and usefulness for small businesses.

With its extensive network of agencies and specialized resources, the UN can foster greater collaboration in technology transfer and support for entrepreneurs. Furthermore, helping overcome technological barriers would enable Central American banks to create products better suited to local markets, including innovative solutions such as mobile banking and fintech.