Disruption: Can 20 million women upend a continent?


DISRUPTION explores the work of Fundación Capital, (Winners of the 2014 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship), a group of Latin American activist-economists that is pioneering strategies for financial inclusion across the region by aligning policy, market mechanisms, and advances in technology to create programs that place women at the center of the drive for social change.

They collaborate with governments, big banks, and women marginalized by poverty in Peru, Colombia, and Brazil, to expand financial inclusion with a digital educational tools that piggyback on existing Conditional Cash Transfer to layer on ideas of asset-building, saving, and economic rights.

The women who participate in the program become empowered economic and political agents in their communities, leading the process of societal transformation from the bottom up. Fundación Capital has already reached 3 million people; if the model is taken to scale, can 20 million women upend a continent? DISRUPTION sets the stage for this potential paradigm shift.

Read the Tumblr: http://disruptpoverty.tumblr.com

View the trailer for DISRUPTION



Latin America is a group of nations on the rise, yet income distribution in the region remains among the most unequal in the world. Our story takes place in South America where hundreds of millions live in dire circumstances and the poorest of the poor are women. It is the plight of women like these, multiplied by millions, which sets a ground of activist-economists on a journey to develop new ideas that confront what they call “the scandal of inequality” on their continent by expanding financial inclusion from the bottom up.

They form Fundación Capital (Winners of the 2014 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship), a group guided by the idea that the poor can save and build assets, use tablet computers to educate themselves, and access capital through crowd-funding and mobile banking. To take these innovative ideas to scale, the team at Fundación Capital partners with women living in poverty as well as players in the public, private and social sectors, piggybacking on G2P programs (Government to People) like Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) to forge a path to sustainable financial inclusion. Programs like CCTs transfer cash to poor households, on the condition that they keep their children in school through secondary education, and take them to health clinics on a regular basis.

“We want to gently twist capitalist mechanisms, to transform the capitalist system, from individual values to values of solidarity.” – Yves Moury, President of Fundación Capital

At the heart of our film are the stories of women who participate in Fundación Capital’s programs, encountering in themselves formerly untapped political and economic energy which propels many into active roles of civic participation. By a lake in the Peruvian Andes, we meet Cirila Quillahuaman who tells us that the women in her village, once “sleeping beauties,” have now been awakened by the program, and are opening savings accounts and starting small businesses. Cirila has been elected as city councilwoman and is now pressing her local government to expand the pilot program. In the slums of Cartagena, Colombia, we meet Agripina Perea who has been able to build her own business from what she learned and saved in a financial inclusion program. “I don’t know where they got such a great idea to unite women and teach them how to save,” she says, “and through that, to teach them their rights.”

These innovative financial inclusion programs which the film spotlights in Colombia, Peru, and Brazil, are now poised to spread to reach millions of women. If the model is taken to scale, can 20 million women to upend a continent? And if they did, what would this mean for the potential of translating insights from the developing world to an international stage?

Filmmakers' Statement

Since founding Skylight in 1981, we have been committed to the advancement of human rights and social justice through media.  We have told stories that explore and document a range of pathways to social change; from rebellion against a brutal military dictatorship in Guatemala (When the Mountains Tremble), to direct action movements by the poor in the U.S. (Takeover, Poverty Outlaw), to the role of new transitional justice mechanisms like truth commissions (State of Fear) and the International Criminal Court (The Reckoning), to the relationship of justice to social change (Granito: How to Nail a Dictator).

For more than 30 years, the human rights movement has achieved extraordinary advances in criminal justice, such as the prosecution of military dictators (Argentina, Guatemala) and former heads of state (Fujimori) for grave human rights violations.  But at the same time the roots of the social upheavals we’ve been documenting over this span – extreme poverty and economic inequality – have remained an endemic, even deepening atrocity.  DISRUPTION poses a challenge to the global human rights movement to rethink how economic rights can be made a significant force in development, through strategies that relate more effectively to potential allies in government and the private sector. We believe that those who believe in the power of human rights must find new ways to address economic injustice – and on a scale commensurate with the millions of people around the world that are mired in poverty.

DISRUPTION builds on our decades of commitment to the struggle for human rights to illuminate new developments that should be part of our debates about how they can be expanded and made more effective in our world today.

Pamela Yates (Director), Paco de Onís (Producer), Peter Kinoy (Editor)

Take Action!

Get women’s economic empowerment on the priority list.

You can help secure economic autonomy—and, with it, better access to legal and human rights–for women all over the world by signing this petition.

The following Call to Action was crafted at the University of Oxford (United Kingdom) with input from UN Women, CARE International, and the International Finance Corporation.  This is the petition you are signing:

We, the undersigned, call on the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, in the articulation of the Post-2015 Development Framework, to emphasize women’s economic empowerment, particularly with regard to increasing women’s access to financial services, improving their financial capability, and increasing their access to skilled jobs including leadership positions in the financial sector.

By signing this petition, you help put popular pressure on the United Nations’ Open Working Group to include women’s economic empowerment as one of the priorities on the list of development goals that will guide international economic strategy for the next fifteen years.

We have made arrangements to forward all the signatures now being collected in various forms (a hard copy, but also this page and messaging through Twitter, Instagram, and other social media) to Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, who is the special advocate to the UN Secretary General for financial inclusion.  We will also copy the two co-chairs of the Open Working Group mentioned in the language.

It is very important to understand that the items on the SDG list will get (1) sustained attention from governments, NGOs, and international agencies, (2) money for programs and reforms, and (3) monitoring, measuring, and reporting progress of each country in the world against the goals.  Progress on women’s economic empowerment would be measured and reported back for fifteen years.  That is enough time to substantially change the conditions for women right around the globe.

– Linda Scott, Prof. at Oxford University Said School of Business.

About the Project

Film Details

Release date: Mar 13, 2014
Running time: 84m


Pamela Yates, Director

Peter Kinoy, Editor

Paco de Onís, Producer

Melle van Essen, Cinematographer/Photographer

Buy the film More DVDs

Disruption (Institutional Use)

$349 + $10s/h

Shop in Confidence

Worldwide shipping: We ship to any country in the world, without exception.

Pay by debit or credit card, or using PayPal

Credit Cards
  • Ashwani Vasishth

    Any chance you might release this for home use soon?