Rural bankers unveil new paradigm in microfinance

NRT 2011-1Rural bankers welcomed new development in providing microfinance services during the 2011 RBAP-MABS National Roundtable Conference on May 23-24 at the Hyatt Hotel & Casino in Manila.

Almost 150 participants mainly from rural bank and private sector partners attended the conference, which featured the latest local and global trends and updates in microfinance. In his keynote speech, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. recounted how the face of microfinance has been transformed through the years, noting that the new paradigms faced by microfinance today are built on age-old fundamentals. He recalled that several years back, microfinance in the Philippines was being offered by only a few banks and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which provided loans to microentrepreneurs. “Today,” he said, “microfinance can also be about a client paying for his or her housing loan or using mobile phone banking to pay for loans or deposit money to his or her bank account.”

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Deputy Governor Espenilla enumerated some of the recent BSP circulars, which expanded the definition of microfinance to include other products and services such as micro-agri, housing microfinance, microinsurance and mobile phone banking, among others. He expressed the BSP’s support for the rural banking sector’s microfinance initiatives, as well as his optimism for the industry that, according to him, is being watched closely by the international community.

The RBAP-MABS National Roundtable Conference featured presentations and discussions on the latest BSP regulations expanding microfinance services; transparent pricing practices; new strategies for deposit mobilization; value chain financing options for agricultural microfinance; new technologies for microfinance operations; credit bureau services; responsible and effective sales, marketing and servicing of microinsurance; and new marketing leadership strategies for rural banks.

NRT 2011-3MABS participating banks were also given an annual analysis of their microfinance performance based on MABS’ EAGLE (Efficiency, Asset Quality, Growth, Liability Structure, and Earnings) assessment, as well as an update from the MIX Market. The two most outstanding rural banks based on the EAGLE criteria – Bangko Kabayan and Rural Bank of Gattaran – were given the RBAP-MABS EAGLE Achievement award and were honored on the night of May 23.

Ms. Shari Berenbach, Director of the Microenterprise Office of USAID/Washington, welcomed the guests and participants to the EAGLE Achievement Awards Night. In her welcome address, she stated that “side by side, the country’s goal of poverty alleviation and economic growth is addressed through your (rural banks’) efforts to change the face of microfinance in the Philippines.”