The Bangko Sentral will launch the microfinance regional advocacy program in Cebu City on January 31, 2003. This will be the first of a series of information seminars that will be held in the strategic regions of the country to promote the development of sustainable microfinance. The end goal of this endeavor is to catalyze the development of sustainable microfinance institutions in the country to be able to reach a larger number of entrepreneurial poor.
The BSP and other officials who will serve as resource persons at the seminar are: Monetary Board Member Antonino L. Alindogan Jr., Managing Director Ricardo P. Lirio, Microfinance Consultant Eduardo C. Jimenez, Director Joselito Almario from the National Credit Council, Dr. Piedad Geron of the Credit Policy and Improvement Program and CARD Rural Bank Vice President for Operations Aristeo Dequito, among others.
The Bangko Sentral has declared microfinance as its flagship program for poverty alleviation in 2000 and has since then taken significant strides in creating an enabling policy and regulatory environment for practitioners, training and capacity building within the BSP and the banking sector as well as promoting and advocating microfinance.
These efforts have shown remarkable results. To date, there are 2 microfinance oriented rural banks (Vision and Banco ng Masa) and 2 microfinance oriented thrift banks (Opportunity Microfinance Bank and Microenterpirse Bank), created under Circular 273, with 100% microfinance portfolios. In addition, there are 27 cooperative rural banks and 85 rural banks that have microfinance operations. This includes the pioneer microfinance bank, the CARD Rural Bank. These banks are currently reaching over 300,000 microfinance clients. More and more formal financial institutions are moving to engage in microfinance while informal, and unregulated institutions are moving toward formalization and venturing into activities that they did not previously undertake such as deposit taking and savings mobilization.
This information seminar in Cebu City will be open to those who are interested in engaging in microfinance, those who are already engaged in microfinance and want to formalize their operations through the establishment of a bank and even the banks that already have microfinance operations. The presentations will cater to the information needs of these different sets of audience as it will be both technical and practical in nature. Key officials from the BSP, the National Credit Council as well as actual microfinance practitioners will help in adding breadth to the seminar. Over 100 participants from the NGO, cooperative and banking sector are expected to attend the event.