Marylyn Cleto, recipient of a Citi Microentrepreneurship Award for 2013, has demonstrated how one can provide a better life for her family without having to work abroad.
Cleto is a former overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who returned to the Philippines in 2004 with a small amount of savings, to which she added a loan from the Social Security System to set up her own little sari-sari (consumer retail) store.
With her husband’s help, Cleto managed to run and expand the business into a combination of a mini grocery, a soft-broom manufacturing business using available tiger grass, a computer shop, and G-Cash remit center in Bagulin, La Union.
With earnings of about P40,000 monthly, Cleto and her husband were able to send their children to a good school, provide employment for people in their community, convenient access to goods and services, and keep the local soft broom industry alive.
In 2010, after a typhoon devastated their community, Cleto secured a loan from Tulay sa Pag-unlad inc. (TSPI) to restock her mini grocery, and she has since been a valued client of the microfinance institution.
The central bank is urging more Filipino entrepreneurs to join the growing microfinance sector.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas launched the 12th Citi Microentreprenuership Awards (CMA) with Citi Philippines and the Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc. (MCPI) on Wednesday.
“As co-chair of the selection committee for CMA for 10 years now, I have personally witnessed how microentrepreneurs survived scarcity by making their business a reliable source of family income—all because they accessed . . . and sensibly used . . . microfinance loans,” BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said at the 12th CMA launching ceremony.
Citing central bank data, Tetangco noted that as of September 2013, 183 banks have provided P8.1 billion in microfinance loans to more than a million borrowers—an average bank loan of P8,000 per borrower.
Seven years ago in December 2006, the total microfinance loan portfolio of banks stood at only P4 billion for 650,000 borrowers, or an average of 6,150 pesos per borrower.
“In other words, bank loans to microenterprises increased by 102 percent in seven years, while the number of microentrepreneurs who accessed micro loans from banks increased by 56 percent. Over the same period, the average micro loans increased by 30 percent,” Tetangco said.
In terms of bank savings, the accumulated savings of microentrepreneurs have jumped to P8.8 billion from P1.4 billion in 2006, an increase of 525 percent. This means the average deposit per microentrepreneur increased from P2,000 in 2006 to P8,650 in 2013, an improvement of 332 percent in seven years, he said.
“As a regulator, it is a joy to see tangible proof that our microfinance policies and regulations have such a powerful impact on families and communities,” Tetangco said.
“Let us therefore continue to spread the word about microfinance . . . and the stories of our CMA winners . . . some of whom are with us today. Through them, we are reassured again and again . . . that microfinance is a viable option for entrepreneurial Pinoys,” he said.
Citi Philippines Chief Executive Officer Batara Sianturi recognized the important role of microenterprises in the development of any economy and society.
“At Citi, we are honored to have the opportunity to work with the BSP and the MCPI to comb the countryside each year for outstanding individuals that deserve recognition,” he said.
Sianturi added that through the CMA, the bank wishes to put the spotlight on the men and women who have found sustainable solutions to escape poverty, not only for themselves but even for their families and community members.
The CMA is an annual search for the most outstanding Filipino micro business owners. This year, seven winners will be awarded following a six-month process that involved nominations from microfinance institutions, screening and field visits by senior officers from the BSP, Citi and MCPI and a final selection by a national committee composed of industry and community leaders.