In Colombia, people who earn less than the minimum wage struggle to earn enough money to buy food. At the same time, these same people suffer from inefficient and ineffective waste management, especially in remote rural areas. What do these problems have in common? The waste thrown by them has a value that can be used to buy food. If this waste is exchanged for food, two problems will be solved: food security and contamination.
Bancalimentos is an initiative focused on the financial inclusion of the rural population. Our mission is to address food insecurity in a sustainable way, by giving value to waste and allowing savings accounts to be converted into food, credit and food insurance.
Bancalimentos was created as a bank where people who experience food insecurity can exchange their recycled waste for food. In Bancalimentos, the currency to do transactions is the waste. The organization provides three different services: Food Savings Accounts where users can save their waste and in exchange obtain points redeemable for nutritional food; Emergency food credits, in which the users receive the food and later pay for it in installments with their waste; and finally Food Insurance, which provides food security in times of unemployment, economic crisis or work incapacity.
Bancalimentos also found that waste can provide additional access to services. For that reason, they have formed partnerships with universities such as the Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia (Open and Distance National University), which offers the possibility to study a professional career by paying the tuition fee with waste and Colpensiones, the Colombia's state entity in retirement savings, to provide savings for their retirement.
Bancalimentos aims to open four new branches, two in Colombia and one each in Accra, Ghana and Italy. It also aims to develop their own banking software to facilitate and digitize operations and transactions. Finally, it is working towards creating new alliances to allow the purchase of additional services and goods using waste, as part of the payment of mortgages.