Emilio Botín, the first banker to open a branch in a ‘favela’

In the last seven years in Brazil, 46 millions of poor people have become middle class and it is expected that 19 millions more can also improve their purchasing power by 2014. Banco Santander is the third private bank in Brazil, following Itaú and Bradesco, and the first opening a branch in a ‘favela’, Alemao, the most dangerous in Rio de Janerio. The daily Expansión had the scoop:

“The opening of one Banco Santander’s branch in Alemao is a milestone because this was the most dangerous ‘favela’ in Rio de Janeiro, dominated by the Comando Vermelho (Red Commando). This narco-dealer squad turned the favela Alemao in a fortress that worked as if it were an independent state. The Brazilian government managed to pacify the favela by means of a military occupation in which participated more than 2,000 soldiers…

“…The favela has got a population of 140.000, a figure similar to the Spanish city of León  a  medium populated city.The incentive for banks such as Banco Santander is obvious, since the pacification of Alemao and other favelas is giving birth to new cities in Rio de Janeiro as well as in Sao Paulo…

“… Banco Santander’s strategic goal in Brazil is to become the first bank of their clients. To this end, Santander is putting in practice a very agressive plan with the goal of growing by 15% in income as well as in profits.”

The red-logo bank will open 120 new branches annually during the next years. These branches are much bigger than the Spanish ones, with ten employees working in each. Banco Santander Brasil contributes a quarter of the overall group profits.

“…Santander has also started in Alemao a patronage programme for the favela’s educational development. This new branch has already raised 2,000 clients in the favela, for whom the bank offers ordinary banking services, but obviously adapted to the extreme poverty of the neighbourhood. One of the key products are microcredits, which are given to entrepreneurs, and whose average amount is of 1,000  Brazilian reals or €400.”

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