Turning to PH for help

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Friday, May 2, 2014


MICROFINANCE institutions (MFIs) in Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia are asking a Philippine social enterprise to help improve and develop their systems, an official said.

Ahead of the full integration of Southeast Asian economies, the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development-Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI) has entered into partnerships with several MFIs in different countries, said founder and managing director Dr. Jaime Aristotle B. Alip in a press conference in Laguna last Wednesday.

Under the partnership, Alip said, partner MFIs will receive technical assistance from CARD.

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“We are prepared for Southeast Asian economic integration because we have built connections with other countries. As far as CARD is concerned, we are positioning CARD not only in the Philippines; that’s why we have a very conscious effort with our technical assistance,” Alip told reporters.

To date, CARD has 2.4 members nationwide, with a portfolio of P8 billion.
Buzz word: inclusion

CARD MRI offers several types of financial services, including micro loans through CARD Inc. and loans for small and medium enterprises through the CARD SME Bank.

While the institution prioritizes “under-banked” women, CARD SME also serves walk-in
clients.

CARD also provides micro insurance, training, business development services, access to a pharmacy and information technology services, among others.

The assistance would enable their partners to adopt CARD’s microfinancing system, explained community development director Marilyn Manila.

Alip said that the Philippines has been at the forefront of microfinancing in Southeast Asia; CARD reportedly ranked fifth worldwide in microfinance services, after MFIs in Bangladesh and India.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, in its Financial Inclusion Initiatives report in 2013, said the Philippines was recognized last year “as the first in the world in terms of its regulatory framework and practices for microfinance.” This was also recognized by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Global Microscope on the Microfinance Business Environment for 2009 to 2013.

Microfinance degree

The BSP reported in 2013 that the aggregate savings of microfinance clients reached a historical peak of P8.9 billion, which is higher than the outstanding loan level of P8 billion. Likewise, the number of microfinance clients with savings accounts is rising.

Some 1.1 million persons had borrowed from microfinance units as of the second quarter in 2013, up from 390,000 in 2002, the BSP also reported.

It said that 391 microfinance banks served 249 towns nationwide, of which 49 relied
entirely on these banks.

To further strengthen the country’s microfinance services, CARD-MRI Development Institute Inc. (CMDI), which used to be the training center for CARD members and staff, will offer to the public a bachelor’s degree in microfinance.

The school will be in its CMDI facility in Bay, Laguna. It is said to be the first bachelor’s degree for microfinance in the Philippines. It will also offer courses in micro insurance and community development, said CMDI director Edzel Ramos.

Ramos said they hope to open the school next year.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 03, 2014.

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