The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Microfinance Regional Advocacy Program is in full swing. The Regional Advocacy Program is a series of information seminars being held in strategic regions of the country to promote the development of sustainable microfinance operations and institutions. The objective is to make microfinance services accessible to a larger number of entrepreneurial poor.
Last January 31 and March 10, the BSP conducted microfinance seminars in Cebu City and San Fernando City, La Union, respectively. The seminars were attended by representatives from over 150 institutions from the banking, cooperative and NGO sectors. The next seminar is scheduled on Monday May 19, 2003 and will be held at the Centennial Plaza Hotel in Iloilo City.
The seminar is open to all institutions 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 institutions 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. Over 100 participants from the NGO, cooperative and banking sector are expected to attend the event.
The BSP and other officials who will serve as resource persons at the seminar are: Monetary Board Member Melito S. Salazar, Jr., Managing Director Ricardo P. Lirio, Mr. Maximino Lawenko, Director Joselito Almario from the National Credit Council and Dr. Piedad Geron of the Credit Policy and Improvement Program. Dr.Vicente Perlas of the Rural Bank of Maasin and Mr. Jaime Lopez of the New Rural Bank of Victorias will share best practices and success stories of their institution’s microfinance operations.
The Bangko Sentral has declared microfinance as its flagship program for poverty alleviation in 2000 and has since taken significant strides in its advocacy by creating an enabling policy and regulatory environment for practitioners, training and capacity building within the BSP and the banking sector.
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 120 rural and cooperative rural banks that have microfinance operations. This includes the pioneer microfinance bank, the CARD Rural Bank. These banks are currently reaching nearly 400,000 microfinance clients. More and more formal financial institutions are moving to engage in microfinance while informal, and unregulated institutions are moving toward formalization. With the increase of sustainable financial institutions that provide microfinance services, the entrepreneurial poor are given the necessary tools to increase their economic activity and improve the quality of their lives.