Rural Bankers share Lessons Learned from the Housing Microfinance Training

The recently concluded Market Research phase of the Housing Microfinance (HMF) Training by the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines-Microenterprise Access to Banking Services (RBAP-MABS) Program served as a venue for rural bankers to learn many lessons and insights. During the training held at GM Bank Training Room, Cabanatuan City on February 8-10, 2012, participants practiced using the tools for market research with hands-on field survey data gathering, processing and analyzing.  The thirteen (13) participants from four (4) rural banks also conducted face-to-face interviews with group loan clients of GM Bank.

Seeing is believing. Mr. Arnold C. Pagaduan, the Product Development Head of GM Bank shared, “I am happy to have personally attended this workshop, which made me realize that housing microfinance is not only about house construction and major repairs involving relatively large loan amounts. From the survey, the demand is more on home improvements and repairs involving smaller amounts and shorter terms. We won’t realize that there is a very big demand from among our group loan clients if we did not conduct the market research with them. Now we already have a solid basis for developing demand-driven HMF Loan.”

Learning by doing
.  “It’s a very engaging, informative and helpful workshop for our bank, especially the pointers of conducting market research and the actual experience of doing it in the field. There is a very big difference between classroom learning versus actually doing it,” Mr. Ramil Manabat of Rural Bank of Angeles said after the training workshop. Majority of the participants also echoed Mr. Manabat’s statement, confirming that the workshop helped them with hands-on experiences in gathering, processing and analyzing market research data collected in the field.

Not cut and paste nor one size fits all.  “What works in other institution, may not work in another institution.” This is the general comment of the participants on the need to conduct their own market research activities in their area of operations as a solid basis for developing their housing microfinance loan product.

The workshop concluded with participants preparing their respective bank’s action plans for the next steps: convincing their banks’ management to offer HMF, conducting market research with their own bank and clients, and preparing for the second part of the workshop scheduled on March 7-9, 2012, which will focus on HMF Product Development.

Back to back with the training of rural bankers, MABS also held a train-the-trainers session with MABS Service Providers (MSPs).

An initiative introduced under the 4th phase of the United States Agency for International Development–supported RBAP-MABS Program, housing microfinance has taken root in nine (9) MABS participating banks.  More than 75 rural banking units now offer micro loan products mostly for minor home improvements and repairs as well as to leverage investments that borrowers have made in a new home construction. Cumulatively, 3,434 borrowers have obtained micro housing loans worth PhP 144.9 million.