Microsoft, Circuito Cooperativo partner to help SME’s
Microsoft and Circuito Cooperativo announced a new alliance that seeks to promote the digital transformation of Puerto Rico credit unions and help more than 30,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on the island.
The alliance is also creating the SME Academy, a platform that seeks to deliver content for the ongoing learning of the SMEs that the credit unions serve in their communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic drove financial institutions — as well as other sectors —to rethink their products and services. In the case of credit unions, rethinking their digital transformation process to meet the needs of their members was not mutually exclusive executive said.
“Technology has become an essential and integral part of the success of Credit Unions, because of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Kerwin Morales, chairman of the Circuito Cooperativo’s Board.
“The increase in available technological applications has led members of all ages to adopt digital channels permanently. Today, technological innovation is leading and redefining how services are provided in credit unions and the services they offer to their members,” he said.
“One of the great challenges that we have had, and that we are now working on, is to identify solutions that promote digital transformation among credit unions participating in Circuito Cooperativo, focused on productivity, security, and digital skills,” said Morales.
“Having the support of Microsoft and its ecosystem of business partners allows us to develop these processes with a complete digital transformation in mind, since it is not just a trend, but vital for our cooperative sector to have a promising future,” Morales said.
Citing a study commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, the organizations stated that respondents from the financial sector industry were the ones who most agreed that the pandemic underscored the competitive advantages that digital companies have (87% vs. the average of 77%).
With more people working from home, and more customers wanting to use digital channels to access services, the focus is now on building the industry foundation for providing deeper and richer digital interactions soon, the study showed.
“At Microsoft we believe that technology is a great enabler for businesses of all sizes. For this reason, we are promoting this initiative that will allow us to democratically support small businesses throughout the island in their digital transformation process,” said Andy Kaplan, country manager of Microsoft Puerto Rico.
There are more than 60 credit unions that will receive the support of Microsoft and Circuito Cooperativo, so that they may identify the opportunities in their digital transformation process. The goal is to provide the tools for them to empower SMEs with a complete service based on three pillars: productivity, security, and digital skills, the executives noted.
“One of the main scenarios we found was that, for the most part, credit unions received requests from Puerto Rican entrepreneurs to get financial products for their businesses. However, the start of these businesses was limited by several factors, among them, the development of technological skills that would allow them to meet their goals,” said Verónica Nuñez, Microsoft customer program manager for the Caribbean region.
Through the newly launched academy, Microsoft and Circuito Cooperativo will share content for entrepreneurs in the form of podcasts, articles, and events. This content will center on topics such as digital transformation, human talent management, and cybersecurity.
Together the entities will also provide tech solutions to help SMEs expand business through international e-commerce, business kits that include communication and collaboration tools to support the company’s daily activities.
“There’s a high expectation that Circuito Cooperativo will have a positive impact on thousands of SMEs in Puerto Rico. Together with Microsoft, we designed this program that will support Cooperatives in technological matters while giving entrepreneurs a complete solution for their businesses,” said Amanda Cardín, executive director of Circuito Cooperativo.
“We want to strengthen the island’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and unleash the potential of the businesses that are within our reach,” she said.
Entrepreneurs interested in participating in the SME Academy may find more information here.