• Matt Damon to visit poor PH communities


    Holywood actor Matt Damon may visit the Philippines soon to check clean water and toilet facilities in poor communities around the country.

    Local microfinance institution (MFI) ASA Philippines and global non-profit organization Water.org, co-founded by Damon, have announced collaboration for financing to benefit poor Filipinos in need of water and sanitation facilities.

    The financing will be open to the more than one million active clients of ASA Philippines, one of the country’s leading MFIs, present in 700 locations across all 82 provinces of the country. These micro-loans must be used for water connections, pumps, tanks or filters; or for the construction or improvement of toilets.

    The collaboration is the local implementation of the Water.org’s global WaterCredit Program, which has already assisted over 600,000 households in nine countries, since it began in 2003. In the Philippines, an estimated 200,000 households are seen to benefit from the program, which will run until 2018.

    The United Nations Chidren’s Fund (Unicef) and the World Health Organization (WHO), in a report release last year pointed out that, despite improvements made in offering access to water and sanitation, three percent of Filipinos still tap water from surface sources and 26 percent have poor access to sanitation facilities.

    “We are impressed with ASA Philippines demonstrated commitment to representing and serving the needs of low income and vulnerable Filipinos. Through the Water and Sanitation Financing program, there is enormous potential to impact the health, safety and productivity of families across the Philippines,” Richard Thorsten, Water.org’s Director of International Programs, said.

    ASA Philippines chief executive officer Kamrul Tarafder is optimistic about the program, having run a successful pilot of it last year, which has already benefited over 3,000 households.

    “Undoubtedly, there is a need for water and sanitation loans among our existing clients,” he said.

    “With the trust that we have fostered with them, we are now confident that we can offer them more products and services, that can help improve their lives, and contribute to true financial inclusion in the Philippines,” Tarafder added.

    Having achieved a milestone of a million clients last year, and boasting of a loan repayment rate of 99 percent, ASA Philippines is now looking at strategic partnerships to broaden their offering to clients. Their collaboration with Water.org, co-founded by social entrepreneur Gary White and actor Matt Damon, is its first.


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