Citi and Habitat for Humanity launch home improvement microsavings program-A A +A
Thursday, August 2, 2012
CITI and Habitat for Humanity recently launched the Citi-Habitat Home Improvement Microsavings Program in the Philippines, a regional initiative that aims to help 3,000 low income homeowners save a total of US$2 million to strengthen their homes against natural disasters.
The program is part of Citi Foundation’s US$1 million commitment to partner with Habitat for Humanity for an innovative three-year multi-country microsavings and financial education initiative targeted to disaster-prone communities in countries such as the Philippines and Thailand.
Shirish Apte, Citi co-chairman of Asia Pacific Banking and Citi Foundation board member who was visiting Manila, led Citi officials and community partners during the launch ceremonies at the Senior Citizens Center of Barangay Santa Ana, Pateros. He was joined by Habitat for Humanity Philippines CEO Charlie Ayco.
“This is a very important step towards increasing the resilience of people who live in disaster prone areas. It reflects Citi’s commitment to financial inclusion and to communities who are at risk of typhoons and floods. In partnership with Habitat for Humanity Philippines and community partners and leaders, we hope to extend the program to other disaster prone areas across the country,” said Apte.
Individuals can join the Citi-Habitat Home Improvement Microsavings program by attending training sessions with Habitat for Humanity and opening a savings account for as small as P200 (US$4.50) with community-based financial institutions.
Participants who sign up for the program receive incentives for every P1,000 (US$23) saved for the purpose of strengthening their homes. This can include repairing or replacing their roof, cementing or tiling their floors or building a second storey.
Habitat for Humanity will also provide technical assistance to these savers in improving their homes.
While in Manila, Apte also visited the target beneficiary communities in Pateros, and spent time in the home of Edwina Payapag, one of the first participants to the program.
Payapag attended the financial education training last June and immediately signed up for the program by opening a P200 savings account with First Macro Bank, Habitat for Humanity’s bank partner in Pateros.
A community leader, she was able to encourage her neighbors to join the program.
Charlie Ayco, chief executive of Habitat for Humanity Philippines, said “the poorest families with the least to begin with are those most devastated by disasters. Packaging financial education, technical assistance and a savings product together will help families reduce their vulnerability to disasters. With this support from Citi and First Macro Bank, lasting changes will be made to lives in Pateros and elsewhere.”
“I signed up because I learned so much about budgeting and saving during the training. I never thought of saving even five pesos for my dream of having a decent shelter. I’ve been busy providing for my children’s education. But when I heard the explanations of the trainers from Habitat for Humanity, my mind was opened to the possibility of achieving my goal of having a better home.” said Payapag.
When speaking with Apte, Payapag shared her plans to replace her roof, which now leaks in different parts whenever it rains.
During typhoons, Payapag related that buckets are placed all around their home to collect rainwater, and they also fear floodwater rising and entering their home.
“We hope that through this program, we can help more Edwinas who are willing to take the necessary steps to save and prepare themselves for natural disasters,” said Apte. (PR)