Latin America's best bank for SMEs 2019: Bancolombia

Awards for Excellence 2019

The region’s best bank for small and medium-sized enterprises is Bancolombia

It is unsurprising that the award goes to a bank in Colombia given that the sector is so important to the financial system – 99% of all companies are SMEs and they generate more than 80% of Colombia’s employment and around 50% of GDP. 

There are more than three million registered SMEs in the country; Bancolombia banks 1.6 million of them. 

In total in 2018, the bank grew SME deposits by 11.3%, loans by 5.7% and net earnings by 11.6%. The bank now has 36% of all SME loans in the country.

Maria Bibiana Botero_160x186
Maria Bibiana

Under the leadership of Maria Bibiana Botero, director of SME strategy at Bancolombia, the bank has evolved its segmentation of SMEs to better match products and services, developing, for example, a dedicated banking app for SME customers. 

Previously Bancolombia had just three basic internal SME categories – big, medium and small – but has now evolved a more sophisticated approach that overlays demographic, sector and transactional information. 

The bank also adopted specific strategies for startups, recognizing that the need for financial and non-financial products and services varies throughout the life-cycle of these companies. The bank has been focusing on digital innovators in recent years and has more than 130 digital startup customers across a range of industries. 

Bancolombia has also created an SME proposition to further its own growth. Its Corporate Ventures Fund scouts startups that match with the bank’s business model, such as Vlipco, which led to the first convertible note structured in Colombia between a startup and a financial institution. 

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