Banco Cuscatlán is one of the leading banks in El Salvador, with an outstanding track record since 1972. Always at the forefront of excellence and innovation in the Central American region, Banco Cuscatlán set out to address the changing needs of a crucial segment of the economy: small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and decided to embark on the journey of Open Innovation.

With a focus on the digitization of its SME clients, the bank launched the “LET’S DIGITAL PYME” challenge with the support of IDB Lab and the execution of Opinno Ecuador.

In an environment where around 17,500 SMEs operate with challenges ranging from low innovation to lack of access to financing, Banco Cuscatlán set out not only to address these problems, but also to transform them into opportunities.

Thus was born the challenge of implementing an Open Innovation program, an initiative that required establishing an optimal working methodology for its development, with the objective of identifying the best Startups and Fintech consolidated in Latin and Central America, with innovative solutions that have an impact on the business development of SMEs in El Salvador and contribute to their digitization process.

The strategy was deployed in carefully articulated phases. The work began by diagnosing the current situation of the bank and SMEs and identifying the best global practices aligned with the local reality. María Paula Muñoz, Project Leader at Opinno Ecuador, highlights: “Our goal was to create a methodology that would not only respond to current needs, but also lay the groundwork for future digital challenges of Open Innovation”.

Subsequently, we defined the challenges for the challenge addressing key topics in Financial Education, Administrative Operation, Digital Document Management and Digital Commerce, and developed the Open Innovation methodology and the implementation plan for the challenge called “LET’S DIGITAL PYME”, including its foundations, communication, logistics and evaluation of the participating Startups and Fintechs.

The launch of the challenge was not simply a call for innovation; it was the creation of a significant digital event that attracted a large number of participants and was supported by 12 Media Partners from various countries. We established strategic partnerships with AWS and Hubspot, elevating the scale of the challenge and demonstrating a strong commitment to driving Open Innovation. We also had the support of 49 accelerators and incubators in LATAM, creating a solid network of collaboration.

The results had a profound impact. The rigorous and meticulous selection process, based on business and technical criteria, guaranteed the quality of the solutions. More than 160 candidates contacted, 84 registered and 12 finalists evidenced the resonance of the challenge. The Open Innovation methodology designed exclusively for Banco Cuscatlán not only met the objectives, but also established the bank as a benchmark in the promotion of innovative solutions.

Finally, we provided comprehensive support to the selected initiatives, ensuring their successful integration with the Bank.

In less than six months, Banco Cuscatlán was able to generate strategic alliances within the innovation ecosystem and have a repository of agile and powerful solutions to continue driving the path towards the digitalization of its SME segment.

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