Pivoting with purpose: How to change course and keep innovating

June 12, 2019

While in Medellín, I visited with Marta Orrego, a participant in the new pilot who hosts weekly Bancuadra meetings in her modest home, located in a bustling neighborhood high on the mountainside above Medellín’s city center. Marta’s living room is jammed with motorbikes — she rents the space to neighbors who don’t want their vehicles to get stolen on the street. All four of the women in Marta’s trust network support their families by running these kinds of small, informal businesses; others sell ice cream and candy from their homes. They used to borrow from loan sharks to get money for groceries and supplies and are grateful to now have a safe and affordable option. Marta says the loans help her pay utility bills to keep her bike storage business going.

Marta Orrego (second from left) with the members of her Bancuadra trust network.

Marta Orrego (second from left) with the members of her Bancuadra trust network.

  • First: It’s OK to pause a program when something’s not working. Dig in to understand what went wrong and address each of those things individually. Take your time. Rushing to fix a mistake is not the same thing as learning from a mistake.
  • Second: A positive attitude is important. The Medellín team did not dwell on disappointment about the first iteration of Bancuadra not going as planned. Rather, they approached their pivot energized and eager to fix the problems.
  • Third: Political buy-in is important. Mayor Gutiérrez continues to be a champion of the project, as are the key secretaries, who are committed to the program. They’ve been instrumental in attracting private-sector investment in the program and political support for institutionalizing Bancuadra as a permanent program in the city of Medellín.