EPM: Extends Financial Democracy in Colombia
Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
Empresas Públicas de Medellín has experienced more than a half-century of solid financial growth and market expansion, becoming the second largest provider of electricity in Colombia as well as a supplier of water, sewerage and natural gas and, through a subsidiary, telecommunications services. Analyzing its 1.7 million customers, EPM concluded that many of its low-income clients were underachieving in terms of economic and social advancement: they paid their bills on time, but were excluded from credit markets and the formal banking system. Lack of access to formal financing, a handicap for 75 percent of the population of Medellín, forced many citizens to resort to informal loans with extraordinarily high interest rates to buy such basic necessities as refrigerators and home improvement supplies.