19.02.2018

Economic reforms in Cuba: Sparkassenstiftung – a strong partner for the banking system


After successful discussions on further cooperation: President Horacio Navas (in the middle) together with members of the OSV Board and experts of Sparkassenstiftung in front of BPA’s headquarters in Havana.

With some 200 branch offices, almost three million savings and two million loan customers, Banco Popular de Ahorro (BPA) is the largest bank in Cuba. It is also thanks to its close ties with the Sparkassenstiftung für internationale Kooperation (Savings Banks Foundation for International Cooperation) that the Cuban savings bank is the market leader when it comes to dealings with the new business segment of freelance workers. In the wake of the economic reform of 2011, this business segment has started to mushroom in the communist-led island nation. Recently, a new cooperation agreement has been closed to intensify this successful project work.

Current situation in Cuba

With a population of some 11 million inhabitants, the Caribbean island state has a rather weak annual economic performance that totals to EUR 74 billion. Although the average wages rose by almost 60 percent in the past years, many employees do not take any profit from this development. Workers of state-owned retail or grocery stores, for example, have to live on an income of some six euros per month. Although essential goods are subsidised by the government, most of the families can hardly live on a monthly average income of some EUR 30.

Know-how of the German Sparkassen (savings banks) as driving force for Cuba’s development

Since 2013, the Sparkassenstiftung has been supporting the BPA in a partnership project in cooperation with the Ostdeutscher Sparkassenverband (East German Savings Banks Association – OSV) which aims to improve the population’s access to financial services and to make them more sustainable by strengthening education and association structures. Thus, the project contributes to combatting the increasing social and economic imbalances. Accompanied by members of OSV’s Management Board, Heinrich Haasis, Sparkassenstiftung’s Chairman and President of the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI), together with Gerd Weißbach, Sparkassenstiftung’s Head of Division for Latin America, signed an agreement with the Cuban Central Bank at the end of 2017 to enhance cooperation work and extend project activities to Cuba’s entire banking system.

One of the core issues of project work is to promote financial literacy amongst the general population and to professionalise bank staff. To this end, Sparkassenstiftung trains and qualifies own local trainers in customised seminars, who, later on, act as multipliers and impart important basic knowledge about economic correlations and financial products to micro- and small entrepreneurs. And the Cuban bank staff benefit from these training offers, too: They learn how to meet their customers’ needs by offering adequate financial services.

Sparkassenstiftung is determined to intensify its activities in the fields of bank staff training, increasing bank efficiency, expanding lending operations and setting up a training centre for bank staff.

 

Sparkassenzeitung Online, Februar 2018

Sparkassenzeitung, Februar 2018

 

Contact partners:

Gerd Weißbach / Carina Bauer
Sparkassenstiftung für internationale Kooperation
Simrockstraße 4
53113 Bonn

Phone: +49 228 9703-6608


Sparkassenstiftung für internationale Kooperation e.V.
Simrockstraße 4, 53113 Bonn

Phone: +49 228 9703-0
Fax: +49 228 9703-6613 or -6630

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