President Aims At One Million New Clients

The micro-finance industry continues to look for ways to improve their lot and thus improve the lot of the poor including the so-called "hard to service" sectors.

That was the theme of the two year old Micro-finance Council of the Philippines Inc. (MCPI) during its annual meeting last week. The council's members are made up of rural banks, thrift banks, credit unions, cooperatives and non-government organizations (NGOs), micro-finance institutions (MFIs).

One particular challenge hurled at them was made by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo late last year when she dared them "to develop one million new clients by 2004".

To meet this challenge, players will need to increase operational efficiency in a significantly improved manner, the MCPI said in its annual report. "The sector will also need to deepen its current outreach to more hard-to-service poor clients like indigenous communities, upland farmers, fisherfolk and small tenant farmer sectors that are currently under served".

The MCPI plans to submit a draft bill to Congress seeking an exemption from the payment of percentage taxes on the part of NGO MFIs and micro-finance oriented banks for a period of 15 years.

In the short to medium term, it will continue to seek grants from local and foreign donors for various programs and development projects such as improving governance of MFIs and the widespread promotion of performance standards.

Already it has initiated talks with the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines for a proposed project on micro-finance that will be funded by the German Agency for Technical Cooperation. It remains in constant contact with the United National Development Program, the Asian Development Bank Task Force on Micro-finance, and the Ford Foundation. It will also tap the assistance from technical experts such as the United States Agency for International Development, for training programs.

The 22 member council wants to assume the role of a repository of information for micro-finance related NGOs, so that it could closely co-ordinate with relevant stakeholders and seek support from government agencies.

The council is also expected to advocate for and initiate the establishment of a credit bureau and risk rating agency for micro-finance. Not too long ago, proponents of micro-finance got the proverbial shot-in-the arm when the Bangko Sentral ng Philippians (BSP) said it would set-up a unit for the sector.

"In view of the commitment of the BSP to encourage micro-lending, the Monetary Board approved the adoption of a micro-finance unit and the creation of an inter-sectoral micro-finance committee to centralize and oversee program," BSP deputy Governor Alberto Reyes said.

Among the duties of the micro-finance committee, is the formulation of guidelines for examination of micro-finance lending institutions, training programs for examination of banks and other institutions and the co-ordination of all micro-finance institutions.

The unit will also be the vehicle for mobilization and administering possible international and local donor funds as well as BSP's own funds to be earmarked primarily for micro-finance training, advocacy and research.

MCPI president Jaime Aristole Alip urged the member MFIs, to continue to face up to the challenge of the sector, aside from the challenge set by President Arroyo. "We all have a part to pay in the seemingly unending battle to reduce poverty in this country", Alip said ."We consider it our fortune to partner with the poor and to dream big things with them."

Extracted from the Philippines Star
September 17, 2002

Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation of the Philippines

"NWTF started its Grameen Replication in July 1989. We had trained with the study group of APDC and spent one month in Grameen and two weeks with AIM in Malaysia. Cora Henares and I attended the training.

The critical factors were leadership from both of us and also the Board. Initial finance and skill training for staff came from GB and later GT. NWTF today is an NGO - microfinance organization, registered with the Security and Exchange Commission.

We anticipated some problems and had made changes at the start. We focused only on women borrowers and we took out some culture-laden features. We made many changes to suit our clients, for example, discontinuing the 2-2-1 approach. We also started lending for three months and six months and a provide a choice in the third cycle for loan period of 12 months.

Through our association with CGAP, we have begun putting a lot of emphasis on financials and have been conducting focus training on this. We have been able to professionalize the staff. We tried not to lose our focus on the clients. But I think in some ways, we did. We were happy to participate in the Grameen Bank II training because it has brought back the focus on the clients. We plan to establish a bank, and have housing and insurance projects. We will look at the insurance features of GB II."

Cecilia del Castillo
Executive Director, NWTF


 Editor : Muhammad
Executive Editor : Khalid Shams 
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