Bank of the Year – Central America
Bank of the Year – Costa Rica
Winner: BAC Credomatic
Aligning business and sustainability strategies starts to pay off
Small and medium-sized companies have driven credit growth in Central America, and that is
precisely one of the key business segments that this year’s Bank of the Year for the region has
traditionally focused on.
In the twelve-month awards period, BAC Credomatic launched new products and services for
both retail and corporate clients, not only to help them take advantage of the post-pandemic
recovery, but also to turn their businesses into more environmentally friendly operations.
That strategy has paid off, especially in the SME market, which is particularly important for
Central American economies and which speaks for 80% of the credit growth registered over
the past year, while loan delinquency levels have improved at the same time, according to BAC.
“There is an interesting dynamic in Central America’s financial sector, to a large extent driven
by cooperatives, which are very important in countries like Costa Rica, and also by SMEs,”
says Gisela Sánchez, the Chief Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Officer at BAC Credomatic,
which is also the 2022 Bank of the Year in Costa Rica.
In the first half of 2022, BAC’s credit portfolio increased by 11%, while deposits went up 5%
year-on-year. Operational income rose 24%, and net revenues jumped 17% in the same period.
Sánchez says that profits also increased by double digits in the first half.
But the bank is aware that the economic situation has taken a turn for the worse globally and
its effects are set to have an impact on the regional market as well.
“The first half of the year was very useful for us to help our personal and business clients to
navigate the current situation in the best possible way,” Sánchez says. “We are working very
closely with our clients to understand their points of view and to check if they want us to
Sánchez quotes estimates according to which transactions undertaken by BAC Credomatic are
equivalent to 49% of Central America’s GDP to stress the importance of the bank as a catalyst
for economic activity in the region. But she acknowledges that that is not enough, if BAC
wants to help Central America tackle broader environmental and social challenges.
In May, the bank launched a new business strategy. Among its goals are BAC’s ambition to
become the first “climate positive” bank in the world by 2025, meaning that it will not only
need to bring its own carbon emissions to zero but also create an environmental benefit beyond its own emissions reduction.
“It is not our sustainability strategy, but rather our business strategy,” she says. “We are in a
region of the world where climate change has a bigger impact than elsewhere in the world.”
BAC Credomatic is also launching a series of credit products aimed at boosting women
entrepreneurs, fomenting sustainable mobility, and funding the adoption or renewable energy
and electric vehicles.
“We are happy that clients see us as allies to help them decarbonize their businesses,” Sánchez
says. “More than niche products, these are initiatives that we believe are transforming the very
DNA or our credit portfolio.”
“We clearly have an ability to influence and incentive social and environmental transformation
by offering capital with conditions for it to take place,” she says.