US Ambassador Joins FAIRBank’s Outstanding Microentrepreneur of the Year Award Ceremony

First row (left to right): Cerila Verdida, Gil Verallo (FAIR Bank CEO), Amb. Harry K. Thomas Jr., Dinah Verallo (FAIR Bank Corporate Secretary) and Luzviminda Moralde Banan. Second row (left to right): Julito Malinao, Carina Gonato, Anuncianon Santillan and Anastacio Postrero

First row (left to right): Cerila Verdida, Gil Verallo (FAIR Bank CEO), Amb. Harry K. Thomas Jr., Dinah Verallo (FAIR Bank Corporate Secretary) and Luzviminda Moralde Banan. Second row (left to right): Julito Malinao, Carina Gonato, Anuncianon Santillan and Anastacio Postrero

First Agro-Industrial Rural Bank Inc. (FAIRBank), a rural bank with eleven (11) branches in the province of Cebu, recognized its outstanding microloan clients during a ceremony held on September 16, 2011.  Kaabag sa Pamilya (Helper to the Family) Awards, a bank-wide search for outstanding microentrepreneurs, aims to create awareness for microfinance by giving due recognition and honor to outstanding clients of the bank. The United States Ambassador to the Philippines, Harry K. Thomas Jr., attended the ceremony, and handed out the plaques to the awardees. United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/Philippines Mission Director, Gloria Steele, together with other U.S. Embassy and USAID representatives were also on hand to witness the event.

The U.S. Government, through the USAID funded Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines Microenterprise Access to Banking Services (RBAP-MABS) Program, has been working with FAIRBank and other participating rural banks to develop their capacity to more effectively provide financial services to microenterprises.

Three Microloan clients Ms. Carina Gonato, Mr. Anastasio Postrero, and Ms Luzviminda Banan received Outstanding Microentrepreneur awards. Ms. Gonato started as a lumpia vendor. Her business now employs 33 people and sends supplies to places as far as Surigao, Manila, and Zamboanga. Mr. Postrero started with a small sari-sari store, and slowly but surely diversified into seaweed farming and production of dried fish. Ms. Banan also started with a sari-sari store then expanded to other micro-businesses – an eatery, a piggery, and a boarding house.

Amb. Harry K. Thomas Jr.During his remarks, Ambassador Thomas highlighted the partnership between the U.S. Government and the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines as an example of how public-private partnerships can make a difference for small business entrepreneurs. He commended FAIRBank microloan clients, saying “Microentrepreneurs, like our awardees today, are a testament to the enabling role that a rural bank can play in helping bring economic opportunity and prosperity to areas not reached by the big commercial banks.  They are the real success stories.”

The event was part of “America in 3D” tour to Cebu, a U.S. Embassy road show that features diplomacy, development, and defense. The road show highlights American culture, values and society and is one of the Embassy’s initiatives for closer interaction with Filipinos.

Mr. Gil Verallo, the Chief Executive Officer of FAIRBank, stated that the bank’s decision to participate in the USAID RBAP-MABS Program was one of the best decisions his bank ever made.  Since the joining the RBAP-MABS Program in 2005, more than PhP2.4 billion in microloans has been disbursed to more than 53,000 borrowers. The bank services almost 42,000 micro deposit accounts with a total value exceeding PhP48 million. RBAP-MABS also assisted FAIRBank to develop and offer a housing microfinance loan product and to offer microinsurance services to its clients as a licensed agent of Pioneer Insurance.