Caldas is a department of Colombia with an area of 7.291 km², located in the western center of the country. It is part of the Paisa cultural Region and is rich in beautiful coffee- and flower-growing landscapes. Nonetheless there is a high rate of poverty and extreme poverty among the population of Caldas. According to SISBEN*, around 75% of the 976,438 inhabitants living in the region are poor** and 26% of them even live in extreme poverty***.
In August 2009, a team from GCL visited Caldas for a fact finding mission. By consulting local communities, entrepreneurs and universities, they concretized the most critical needs of the population of Caldas and designed a project which would be able to address these social needs.
1. Education: 75% of population have an average of 7 years of education
2. Nutrition: 23% of the population are at risk of malnutrition and 7.4% are already malnourished
3. Healthcare: 550,000 people with subsidiary system and long waiting periods to get proper medical treatment
4. Housing: Extremely low quality housing and overcrowded conditions in high risk areas
The Grameen approach to public sector investment is not a traditional social project; it generates revenue and becomes sustainable:
The HSBM creates social value for the Caldas people, but also generates revenue. All Social businesses are sustainable and create social value in “autopilot”. The RoI is not immediate but is much higher and sustainable than other social investments options. To begin, the Government of Caldas invests an initial sum into the project: aside from a small project management fee, the funds are used in order to launch projects. Once they generate revenue, all initial investments can be paid back and then recycled to support the establishment of new projects. In this way more and more social needs can be addressed in a very efficient, effective and sustainable way.
* SISBEN (Sistema de Identificaión de Potenciales Beneficiarios de Programas Sociales): The Colombian System for Identification of Potential Beneficiaries of Social Programs
** correlates to SISBEN 1, 2 and 3
*** correlates to SISBEN 1