BBVA’s financial education grants will finance five projects seeking to resolve challenges from the pandemic


In this fourth edition of the program, each selected team will have access to a €10,000 prize to finance their research project. The global pandemic has demonstrated the importance of financial education as a tool to overcome the challenges that contribute to a more sustainable society. It is no surprise, therefore, that the winning proposals mostly focus on solving the sector’s most pressing challenges.

Since 2018, BBVA’s Center for Financial Education and Capability has given €200,000 to 22 projects from countries such as Mexico, the U.S., Spain, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Turkey, Kenya and Indonesia. These are the winning projects from 2021.

1- IE Foundation (Spain) 

The research led by Laura Núñez Letamendia will delve into the role of financial education in households’ financial well-being. The work is based on analysis of the population’s knowledge of concepts like inflation, diversification and simple and compound interest;  understanding of investment vehicles; planning skills and the sense of financial empowerment; in other words, the confidence each person has in their abilities to carry out financial management activities.

The research will explore the influence of these four pillars on people’s well-being or vulnerability through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB)  scale of well-being. For this, it will use the survey conducted by the Household Savings Observatory in March 2021 of 1,500 Spanish households as an empirical base. This poll collected information on variables related to individuals’ financial behaviors and attitudes prior to the pandemic, and their level of financial education. “Beyond the satisfaction of the funding, it is an honor for us to have been selected by such a prestigious program as BBVA Edufin,” said Laura Núñez when learning that her project had been selected.

2- William Marsh Rice University – Baker Institute (EE. UU. – México) 

Many Mexicans lost their jobs due to the economic crisis from the pandemic. They found themselves pushed into the informal economy, or were forced to spend their retirement savings. Researcher José Iván Rodríguez-Sánchez began the project “Improving financial education and retirement accounts in Mexico after the COVID-19 pandemic” in order to explore the pandemic’s impact on Mexicans and how it has influenced their interactions with the financial system. This expert was enthusiastic when hearing that his project had been selected: “The fact that BBVA has chosen me, makes me feel very honored and with a lot of responsibility to do my research.” 

The conclusions of this study will seek to understand the vision that many of the country’s citizens have of the future now that their ability to save, plan for retirement and access credit has been diminished. The research will analyze the impact that better financial education would have in the current situation and will provide recommendations of public policies to offer quality education and greater financial inclusion.

3- The Pennsylvania State University (EE. UU. – Colombia) 

Despite its development in recent years, Colombia is facing a dramatic increase in economic equality, which has gotten worse in rural areas. In this scenario, the fintech industry is emerging as an option to provide alternative financial products and services that are adapted to users’ needs. Led by Priya Sharma, this project explores the role of financial inclusion and the sector’s technologies as a tool to boost economic growth from the perspective of several representatives of two sectors: fintech companies and rural communities, specifically a group of women coffee growers and families running small cocoa farms. “By using a learning sciences approach, we are committed to finding alternatives to close the inequality gap and improve the quality of life of those who need it the most,”, said this expert.

The information from both groups will be collected in in-depth interviews and two workshops, which will be held separately with a total of  40 participants. The one for fintech companies, which will take place in Bogota, will focus on the products and services the rural population consider a priority and how they perceive the needs and expectations of these communities. For the farmers, the research aims to understand their perspectives of poverty, inequality and financial inclusion in order to understand their needs and offer solutions. The final report will offer recommendations regarding how to challenge the country’s current paradigm of financial education and the role of financial technologies in a challenging context, among other topics.

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