They are called “micro-entrepreneurs.”
They are small market vendors, owners of sari-sari stores and small bakeries, tricycle drivers and they are changing the quality of their lives through micro-financing.
BPI Foundation, the social responsibility arm of the Bank of the Philippine Islands, has been helping these individuals achieve the dreams for the past 12 years. A pioneer in micro-financing, BPI Foundation provides a credit line for non-government organizations and cooperatives that seek to uplift the lives of Filipinos in need.
The foundation’s micro-financing program called Financing Assistance Line (FAL) began in 1989 with a breakthrough partnership with Tulay sa Pag-unlad, Inc., now known as the TSPI Development Corporation. BPI Foundation initially provided the non-profit grassroots organization a P0.5 million credit line. With this support, TSPI successfully implemented programs that allow the poor to start small businesses to meet their family’s needs.
Today, TSPI is considered a leading organizer of small and micro enterprise development. TSPI now has 47,000 active clients, most of whom obtain an average of P5,000 to start up micro businesses such as market stalls, small groceries, and dressmaking shops.
Thousands more have since benefited from BPI Foundation’s micro-finance program, proving that the poor are credit-worthy given the right mechanisms in place. For instance, TSPI’s credit line with BPI Foundation now stands at P4.0 million and has over P15 million total loan exposure at the Bank of the Philippine Islands. Its loan programs record a high repayment of 98.7 percent, even higher than commercial banks.
BPI Foundation has developed several strategies to ensure the success of micro-financing. These include targeting a large number of borrowers and using group lending and group guarantees. It also established sound credit policies as well as checks & balances that are strictly observed. Through BPI’s prudent credit management, FAL has released P55 million in loans to over 2,000 micro to small enterprises via 14 NGOs and cooperatives.
Observes BPI Foundation executive director Veronica Tapia-Merk: “BPI Foundation has proven that micro-finance is applicable in the Philippines in helping the people in their struggle to break out of the cycle of poverty. Today, our commitment to social responsibility remains steadfast as ever.”
Thanks to the pioneering efforts of NGOs such as BPI Foundation and TSPI Development Corporation, micro-finance models are now widely accepted as an effective tool in getting more and more Filipinos out of poverty