U.S. Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, Jr. supports rural bankers’ advocacy for Greater Financial Inclusion

US Ambassador Thomas

In his keynote speech at the 57th National Convention of Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP), U.S. Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, Jr expressed his support for greater access to financial capital and social safety nets for all Filipinos.

The U.S. government has assisted the RBAP for more than ten years through the Microenterprise Access to Banking Services (MABS) Program that expands access to financial services to micro-entrepreneurs and low-income households by supporting rural banks’ capacity to provide services to the microenterprise sector. MABS partner banks have been able to provide over 2.2 million micro loans with a total of more than PhP29 billion for micro-borrowers numbering over 700,000.

The Ambassador cited that the project has relieved families from poverty and ignited Filipino entrepreneurial spirit.

Ambassador Thomas also stressed that the rural banks’ move to provide micro-insurance products and services to low-income households and to rural entrepreneurs of the Philippines are good examples of interlinked corporate success and social welfare. He urged the bankers to continue making the low-income sectors’ dreams a reality, quoting U.S. President Barack Obama’s words: “Real change comes from the bottom up.”

As a closing, the Ambassador emphasized, “The answers are in this room. The opportunity is here and the time is now. You can create the conditions for economic dynamism in the countryside where new ideas emerge; incomes rise; and rural communities blossom.”

This year’s convention at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza held on May 31 and June 1, is based on the theme “Towards Greater Financial Inclusion and Protection,” with attendees from 600 rural and cooperative banks of a combined network of over 2,700 offices and branches nationwide.