Yves balances the financial world in favor of social protection for the most vulnerable people. His systemic change consists in creating a new "economic citizenship" and he does it hand in hand with financial institutions and public policymakers, using inclusive, massive and innovative methodologies. Yves empowers women and their families through a simple formula based on access to necessary basic services for the construction of citizenship and entrepreneurship, starting with the financial. Using savings as the first step towards the construction of her assets he breaks with the circle of poverty through the capacity of consumption and productive investment, and with that he manages that the ecosystem efforts and the public and private sectors investments generate social stability on a scale and in a sustainable way.
The New Idea
Yves discovers that the key to overcoming poverty lies in the accumulation of financial assets and their productive use. He strongly believes that the main entry point into the financial system is, and should be, a savings account. The reason is simple: savings accounts are for everyone. Savings play an important role in the financial lives of people living in poverty and represents a first step towards full financial inclusion. This way, the generation, accumulation, increase and protection of assets is a powerful strategy; however, this must be at a large-scale to achieve the desired impact, and therefore it is necessary to implement initiatives hand in hand with national governments, financial institutions, investors, civil society organizations and other key stakeholders’ groups.
Yves through multi-dimensional support (applied research, social innovation testing and design through pilots, technical assistance, advocacy) leads the co-creation of well-designed social programs for poverty reduction, strategic alliances among public and private sector actors, well-suited services and product provision. He promotes new programs that catalyze behavior change, enhance public policy and regulatory frameworks, and build the case for financially inclusive businesses. Ultimately, the combined efforts of civil society, governments, and the private sector will enable millions to get themselves out of poverty.
Yves develops 4 work strategies under which you meet all his programs and applications. First, Financial Inclusion to involve the poorest, through his Capital Project. He works in partnerships with governments for the development of social protection policies linked to savings. Secondly, Economic Citizenship by strengthening communities and families in extreme poverty, focusing on the use of their social and economic human rights and training with digital tools, access to capital coaching, information, technical and legal services, through his Graduation Program. Third, Digital Solutions based on mobile banking services, tablets, smartphones and financial education, e-learning and consulting. The LISTA programs, Serious Gaming and smart phone apps are newer tools and projects being tested in several programs to change the knowledge, attitudes and behavior of low-income youth and adults to support programmatic objectives. The Little Big Money and APPtitude technologies focus on vulnerable families’ economic ventures to teach them life skills. Fourth, Territorial Development and Post Conflict is a strategy to create social structure starting on entrepreneurship and financial inclusion in communities affected by armed conflict and violence, together with the victims and community development initiatives;he does this through the “Transformando mi Futuro”(Transforming my Future) and “Avanza Seguro”(Safe Advance) Programs.
What sets Yves apart from other entrepreneurs is that he does not seek to provide financial services for the well-being of a group of people or to provide limited services in its scope, but rather seeks to change the financial system through his impact on public policies and the profitable use of the market’s mechanisms. Yves seeks the financial and economic inclusion of low-income people on a massive scale and this can only be done by working hand in hand with the public sector, strengthen the private sector and educate people in financial skills using scalable mechanisms that include Digital solutions. Yves also has a systematic, innovative and collaborative vision in the research, testing, and implementation phases of his programs. He integrates methodologies such as semiotics, "human centered design", co-creation and rapid prototyping, and integrates best practices of behavioral economics and the use of experimental processes. He created the Capital Foundation to systematize his work and has a deep knowledge of the needs, a transversal vision of the ecosystem needs and an offer of solutions to respond to them.
His work not only changes the ecosystem and the socio-economic environment, but also directly influences the population, changing the mentality of low-income people with the empowerment and strengthening of their skills to start building their own assets, especially financial assets. In addition to basing his idea on savings, Yves goes further and focuses on self-esteem as a transformative ability, and not only stops at the financial aspect but also in digital inclusion, social influence and political participation, giving way to a new economic citizenship as part of the systemic change.
Yves has replicated his model in 12 countries in Latin America and 2 in Africa. In addition to his headquarters in Colombia, he is present in Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Mozambique and Tanzania and is looking for new markets in countries like Costa Rica, Haiti, Argentina and Angola. He thinks on taking his model to Asia in the future. In these countries, he develops local capacities and articulates with key actors (governments, public and private institutions and civil society) to achieve their dream of equality and justice.
The Department for Social Prosperity from the Government of Colombia decided to implementthe Capital Foundation’s digital solutions into public policy by integrating LISTA into their “MásFamiliasenAcción” conditional cash transfer (CCT) program. This expansion of LISTA by the government represents a nearly $1M investment, complemented by an impact evaluation recently completed by Innovations for Poverty Action. To this date, this initiative has reached nearly 200,000 individual CCT participants.
Despite all the advances of modern society, poverty is still present, affecting more than three billion people. Although the causes for poverty are multiple, what characterizes it, is a state of perpetual vulnerability, where any emergency (illness, unexpected expenses, or other shock) dramatically affects the family resulting into a vicious circle of poverty. One of the best ways to protect families and fight this vulnerability is through social protection systems, which integrate a financial and economic inclusion vision allowing them to protect their scarce assets and access adequate financial products, such as savings, payments, credit and insurance. However, most of the world's poor remain excluded from the financial system and more than two billion people around the world remain 'unbanked' (World Bank).
The main causes of financial exclusion, or at least the lack of access to a savings account as an initial step, can be grouped into three areas: (i) supply, due to the absence of savings products appropriate for the low-income population, using service channels close to the low-income population, not only physically but also culturally, to which a low level of customer service and consumer protection can also be added; (ii) demand factors, which include a distrust on the financial system, mainly due to lack of information, financial crises in the past, or rumors generated within the population; and self-exclusion resulting from a lack of self-confidence; (iii) regulatory barriers that prevent access to the financial system, either due to regulatory requirements that include the need to show several documents for the opening of just a basic savings account, or for the opening of a service point, and the use of the closest channels for the low-income population (including mobile wallets or electronic banking).
Financial services also help reduce the vulnerability of poor families (not only during unexpected events, but also in general) using accumulated balances in a savings account, the deposit of government transfers into a savings account, the claiming of a microinsurance, or applying for credit during an emergency. It also helps families to be better prepared to deal with such risks, as is the case of financing investments that allow the family to generate higher incomes.
The absence of these possibilities means that the poor become poorer and do not have the opportunity or the capacity to leave the vicious circle of poverty.
Yves realizes that credit does not solve poverty and that many people, after receiving one, ended up poorer and in debt; however, savings has the power to transform people's lives. Inspired by the effectiveness of innovative and scalable systems, he wanted to work on the creation of assets as a strategy to reduce poverty and inequality in the region. Yves develops his Model through the integration of community practice, public policy and private markets. This is done through the design of work programs to achieve direct impacts on this population. His programs are comprised of technology-enabled and market-based solutions, and integrate a variety of methodologies, including the use of pay for success models, social impact bonds, and crowdsourcing initiatives. Yves also proposes building financial capabilities among prioritized target groups to meet needs and adjust behavior patterns. Monetary rewards and incentives to help reinforce goal setting and encourage savings behavior; community and local support infrastructure to build upon individual empowerment gained through financial education and practice/rewards created through incentives. To achieve this, Yves strengthens public sector programs of financial inclusion and savings, and manages forgovernments to implement them as public policies, andworks with the financial sector to promote inclusion and impact processes for small businessmen, by designing tools to connect them with potential investors and advisors, strengthening productive investments.
In 2002, Yves, through his consulting firm Edge Finance, began the design of two pilot projects in partnership with the Government of Peru (the Puno-Custo Project and the Sierra-Sur Project), within the framework of a program of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (FIDA), aimed at stimulating the formal financial savings of indigenous women in poverty. There he heard a woman say that before, "they were like Sleeping Beauty; butsavings has made them wake up!" Although many believed that low-income people did not have the capacity to save or that women could not accumulate savings, the ten thousand participants in the Quechua-speaking peasant women program managed to get ahead with balances higher than what was expected.
By the end of 2007, Edge Finance in partnership with the Ford Foundation presented the conceptual note of Capital Project to governments of Latin American countries. Already in 2008, the Ford Foundation supported the creation of the "Capital Project" Program to promote financial inclusion among governments in the region. Edge Finance begins to work with the Institute of Peruvian Studies (IEP) to start with the project, and due to the growth and receptivity Yves decided to create the Capital Foundation in 2009, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the generation and accumulation of assets in low-income and marginalized or vulnerable populations in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In 2011, with the support of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (FIDA), he launched the Actives and Connections program, which promoted financial inclusion, savings and entrepreneurship among women receiving money. During this time, the Ford Foundation with the World Bank’sConsultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), begins to implement a series of pilot projects of expansion of the methodology Graduation that seeks to support people living in extreme poverty with close assistance, capacity strengthening and the transfer of an asset. That same year, in addition to Peru and Colombia, they began to pilot other initiatives in countries like Bolivia, Ecuador, Dominican Republic and Paraguay.
In 2012 Yves' fruits begin to be seen; First the government of Colombia expresses their interest of incorporating his program "Avanza Seguro" and "Transformando mi Futuro", to promote assets and connections to people who are victims of the armed conflict. Secondly, Guatemala joins the Capital Project and; Third, a South-South cooperation meeting is organized in South Africa to promote the exchange of knowledge and experiences in financial inclusion, the first step towards collaboration with African countries. The Digital LISTA solution is created.
In 2013, Yves expands to Brazil, Chile and El Salvador, and creates momentum among public policy makers. That same year he launches the first collective financing platform Little Big Money in Colombia, for social and environmental endeavors; this technology won the ‘Genera de SociaLab’ competition, which gave him the opportunity to scale up his activities and team up with many actors in the public and private sectors. By 2014, Yves receives the award from the Skoll Foundation exposing him internationally, which generates interest on his methodology in other countries. Yves plans to design a strategy to work in Africa and promote the South-South cooperation, while other initiatives are beginning to expand internationally. LISTA is taken to Brazil and adapted to local needs and begins to be tested in the Dominican Republic.
That same year, Yves realizes that he needs to educate communities quickly, simply and effectively, thus creating the LISTA application which integrates a digital tablet application to increase the financial capacities of low-income people.
In 2015, the Graduation program is implemented in Paraguay, Mexico, Honduras and Tanzania, and interventions are beginning to be designed, while digital solutions for this purpose (APPtitude) begin to be implemented on a larger scale and adapted to local needs. Honduras and Mexico joined the Capital Project, and they begin to work in Mozambique, bringing the Latin-American experiences to Africa. The Colombian Government adopts the digital solution LISTA to teach more than 100,000 beneficiaries of the ‘Transformando mi Futuro’ program to save, accompanied by a random impact evaluation that showed positive results in the generation of financial capacities and improvements in the financial performance of the population. In addition, at the end of 2016, 27 different projects and 20 different funders, were carried out, with presence in 17 countries in Africa and Latin America and with a team of 90 consultants.
In 2017, the "Graduation Model" has increased, from reaching 1K families in the pilot program to now reaching 10K families in Colombia, with estimates to reach 400K individuals with the support of $70M of government co-financing. The project has expanded geographically, with programs currently being implemented in Paraguay, ready for launching in Honduras and Mexico, and designed in Brazil and Tanzania. His LISTA digital platform has received numerous international awards, reaching more than 200,000 users in five countries. An impact study has demonstrated significant changes in the attitude, skills and financial knowledge of beneficiaries. This is done by delivering a tablet to the community and this tablet goes from hand to hand until all those enrolled in the program have received the instruction.
In 2016, FundaK reached 4.5 million vulnerable families, provided access to financial products/services to support its core Inclusive Finance initiative - Proyecto Capital. Families have signed agreements with 14 national governments worldwide (Africa &LatAm), has also built the financial capabilities of over 250K families through a variety of methodologies, primarily his "LISTA" digital solution.
Yves goal is to reach 25 million families by 2020 and the main achievements in the region since its beginning have been: First, 21 agreements signed with Social Protection Programs and other government agencies such as: Bolivia (ASFI), Brazil (Central Bank of Brazil; the Rio de Janeiro State Government), Chile (FOSIS), Colombia (Social Prosperity; Victims Unit), Ecuador (National Program of Popular Finances, Entrepreneurship and Solidary Economy, Ministry of Coordination of Social Development, Central Bank of Ecuador), El Salvador (FISDL, Central Bank of El Salvador), Guatemala (MIDES), Honduras (Presidency of the Republic), Mexico (PROSPERA), Paraguay (Technical Secretariat for Economic and Social Development Planning, National Secretariat for Children and Adolescents, Secretariat for Social Action), Peru (MIDIS, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Superintendence of Banks) and the Dominican Republic (Office of Social Policies of the Vice-Presidency). Secondly, he has signed 17 agreements with formal financial institutions or bank associations such as: Banco Union, Banco FIE and FINRURAL-SARTAWI (Bolivia); BancoEstado (Chile); Cooperative Jardín Azuayo, Cooperative Fernando Daquilema and Cooperative Calceta (Ecuador); Agricultural Development Bank and FEDECREDITO (El Salvador); Citibanamex (Mexico), ‘Financiera El Comercio’ and Agricultural Development Bank (Paraguay); Banco de la Nación, ASBANC, and Scotiabank (Peru), Banco ADOPEM and Banco BHD León, and is in the process of defining a cooperation with ‘Asociación La Nacional’ (Dominican Republic).Third, he has achieved 9 public policies through alliances with governments in the region that have implemented projects designed with Capital Project, and three of them have an estimated value of US$2MM. Fourth, more than 12 million beneficiaries have a bank account or a mobile wallet. Fifth, approximately 1.8 million conditional cash transfer recipients (TMC) have received or are receiving financial training, through various pilot programs promoted by Capital Project. And lastly, more than 3,000 social protection program officers have gone through training to scale the project and more than 500 key decision-makers in their countries have participated in events organized by the program, including field visits and seminars.
Yves comes from a middle-class family with no deprivation and did not suffer exclusion or marginalization. His social conscience comes from his parents, especially his father who was a pilot during World War II; these stories made him a sensitive child. Yves always defended those who were abused;he says that once he almost lost an eye trying to defend a schoolmate.
After a lot of insistence to his parents, because he wanted to see with his own eyes the injustice and poverty that was elsewhere, at the age of 15 he decided to escape from home for 4 months and travel to Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. On this journey, he has his first real encounter with poverty. In his college years, Yves was involved in several revolutionary movements, especially against Latin-American regimes because of his proximity to several friends from this region.
Yves created his first company at a very young age to generate money to finance a commune of existentialists with anarchist ideals; the company was successful, but in the end, he lost the funds due to mismanagement from his partner, but the experience was determinant for Yves, who understood that "you have no way to change the world without doing business."
After studying engineering and economics at the Louvain School of Management in Belgium, he moved to Africa, where he lived and worked for six years working with micro-entrepreneurs and small farmers. He then moved to Latin America. Yves decided to buy a small bank in Peru called ‘Casa Los Andes’ but he later sells it because he did not feel at ease with the scope of the bank, and with his savings he decides to found the Capital Foundation in 2009, in addition to having the important support of the Ford Foundation. Through FundaK, he seeks to connect poor families to market mechanisms, and helps governments improve their public policies for economic development. Yves has over 3 decades of experience working on poverty reduction worldwide, as a consultant, entrepreneur and social entrepreneur, in Europe, Africa, Asia and more broadly in Latin America and the Caribbean combining his expertise in finance, banking, development economics, anthropology and sociology with on-the-ground experiences with low-income families. He has lived and worked for over 30 years (in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru).
Yves with an optimistic and high energy spirit provides a visionary orientation and it is thanks to this personal drive that he has grown so much. In 2014, Yves was recognized by the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and this prompted him to create two additional social enterprises to give sustainability to the Capital Foundation. Edge Finance, a consulting firm, and ResolutionK, a field project implementer, are companies that add to Yves' initial efforts and help not only strengthen the organization's work but also generate greater impact.
Yves is a member of the Leadership Council of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, he is the CEO of a holding company that invests in social enterprises (KGroup), and was for many years the director of a regulated rural bank in Peru, serving low-income clients. He continues to lead Capital Foundationas its President and CEO.