Libertat: an inclusive and innovative concept of rural financial education
After losing his job at a Colombian financial institution where he had worked for five years, no one imagined seeing Sergio create his own financial education venture with the economic support of his former employers. However, circumstances required they call him again to teach a series of financial education workshops for head-of-household mothers. This work, performed with dedication despite its voluntary nature, opened doors to the possibility of becoming an entrepreneur in a rural financial education program, today called Libertat, winner of the Rural Youth Innovation Award in the Financial Inclusion category.
When teaching his first workshops outside Bogotá, in Urabá, Department of Antioquia, it was the first time that he was immersed in a place historically marked by guerrillas and paramilitary groups. There, victims and victimizers gathered in the same space to listen to him talk about finances in a common search to rebuild the territory. The workshop was very successful and Sergio continued to develop his concept, whose motto says it all: “No matter a person’s academic background, their income or access to technology, everyone can have very good personal finances and start the path towards financial independence”, explained Sergio.
On this venture, Raúl, a school friend, accompanies Sergio. He is an entrepreneurship and finance professor that offers his support on the educational and technological side. From his first speech, Raúl realized Libertat’s potential: in a learning workshop on budget calculations, he met Don José who was earning a very decent salary and had a huge television at home… but an earthen floor. “It is not that people do not have resources, what happens is that they manage them poorly. So our methodology and our purpose, as such, is to ensure that they make good use of their resources to have a higher quality of life”, said Raúl.
Another anecdote that Sergio told us and that today even serves as an example during his workshops, is the story of Don Pedro, a motorcycle taxi driver from Chigorodó who drove him one day to teach a class also in the department of Antioquia. Don Pedro used to buy a “cheap” soft drink daily for $ 2,500 Colombian pesos, equivalent to U$ 0.70. it may not seem like much, but Sergio helped Don Pedro realize that by saving half of it – that is, continuing to buy his soft drink, but only once every two days – by the end of the year he would have enough money to buy a piglet and generate another source of income.
Stories like this are multiplying along with Sergio and Raúl’s encounters with people in rural areas. This gives their work an inclusive dimension. Going back to the beginning of Libertat and more particularly to Sergio’s history, it is worth mentioning that, when he lost his job in 2018, his position was replaced by an artificial intelligence system that currently performs his former tasks. Today, Sergio’s new responsibilities take on a human dimension that could not be executed by a robot. In return, Libertat uses technology so that financial education reaches all corners of Colombia. Always with the sole objective of serving rural people and teaching them how to save up and invest.
With this same purpose, Libertat also seeks to extend its services to community radios, with podcasts and programs via WhatsApp. They intend on measuring the financial welfare index of family businesses, projects and initiatives that have followed their formation. This index will be based on three indicators: Continuity in attending programs, knowledge transfer and the creation of habits, such as recording income and expenses.
Beyond the technological tools used, Libertat offers personalized support that no artificial intelligence can ever replace and that makes all the difference. In addition to making finance a more human issue, it is having a positive impact in the Colombian countryside. Technology, like financial tools, is a means. The end must continue to be the well-being of the small producers who form the economic and financial health pillars of our regions and countries.