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Citi PH recognizes ‘green’ firms, young entrepreneurs

Two new categories have been added this year to the annual Citi Microentrepreneurship Award (CMA)—Youth Microentrepreneur of the Year and the Special Award for Green/Sustainable Business.

The new additions were announced during the recent launch of the annual CMA, which recognizes entrepreneurs who have overcome poverty with the help of microfinance institutions “as partners in financial inclusion and enterprise development.”

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The Youth Microentrepreneur of the Year will be presented to a successful entrepreneur between the ages of 20 and 30 while the Special Award for Green/Sustainable Business will recognize a microenterprise “that participates in environment-friendly activities to ensure that all processes, products, and manufacturing activities adequately address current environmental concerns while maintaining a profit.”

The annual CMA, a joint undertaking of Citi Philippines, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and Microfinance Council of the Philippines Inc., has honored in the past 13 years the Citi Microentrepreneur of the Year and one regional awardee each for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

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Special awards are also given for Agri Micro-business and for Community Leadership.

Nominations for all categories will be accepted until July 15. Winners will be announced in December.

The Microentrepreneur of the Year receives a cash prize of P200,000 while each of the other awardees, including those in the new categories, will get P100,000.

Semi-finalists will receive a cash incentive of P10,000 while loan officers and MFI branches of each awardee get a cash incentive of P10,000 each.

During the launch hosted by BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr., said the 14-year-old CMA had remained relevant and meaningful through the years because of “changes and enhancements … introduced in response to developments on the ground.”

Citing industry figures, Tetangco said the environment for the development of the microfinance sector continued to improve based on sustained coordination and cooperation with industry players and stakeholders.

“In December 2002, for instance, there were 390,635 microfinance borrowers from 119 banks. By 31 December 2015, the number of banks providing microfinance loans had increased by nearly 43 percent to 170 while the number of borrowers had increased by 277 percent to roughly 1.47 million. Overall, microfinance loans increased by 333 percent from P2.6 billion in 2002 to P11.3 billion in 2015,” he said.

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The BSP governor said it could be assumed that microfinance had improved the financial standing of microentrepreneurs, as they have accumulated savings of about P4.5 billion as of December. Compared to deposits as of December 2011, Tetangco said the amount represented a 22 percent growth.

Tetangco said it was encouraging global surveys indicated that “the Philippines has one of the world’s best environment for promoting  the quality of life of  people through sustained development of the microfinance sector. ”

The Economic Intelligence Unit’s 2015 Global Microscope on Financial Inclusion ranked the Philippines first in Asia and third in the world in terms of regulatory environment for financial inclusion, he pointed out.

He reaffirmed the CMA partners’ commitment to continue to find better ways to grow microfinance, such as mentoring microentrepreneurs under the CMA program.

“The mentoring was aimed at improving their (CMA winners) enterprises by providing support suited to their specific business needs. It covers, among others, helping products and services become more competitive in local and/or international markets; providing guidance in identifying critical processes and areas for improvement;  offering technical advice on infusing innovation into enterprises; and facilitating the development of business competencies. The end goal was for microenterprises to eventually transition into small and even medium enterprises,” he said.

Piloted last year, Tetangco said they would refine the program this year based on lessons learned from the engagement of the University of the Philippines Institute for Small-Scale Industries (UP ISSI), which mentored 13 past CMA winners for 7-8 months.

Tetangco cited recent moves and new laws and regulations designed to promote the growth of microenterprises, such as facilitating links with banks, training in finance and marketing, linking and providing access to microentrepreneurs to secured and sustainable markets etc.

The Barangay Micro Business Enterprises (BMBEs) Act, he said, sought “to encourage the formation and growth of micro business enterprises by integrating them with the mainstream economy through incentives, marketing assistance, as well as training programs in production and  management.”

Microfinance institutions (MFIs) and other financial service providers, Tetangco said, supported micro enterprises through financial products and other services critical to the entry, survival, productivity, and growth of enterprises.

UP ISSI, the governor said, found microenterprises resilient to operational issues or, in Filipino, “madiskarte.”

“This indicated that given appropriate training and mentoring as well as adequate funding support, our microentrepreneurs can favorably respond to business opportunities,” the BSP governor said.

In his opening remarks, Citi Philippines CEO Aftab Ahmed reaffirmed the bank’s commitment to promote and support microentrepreneurship. CMA was launched in 2002 to mark Citi’s centennial in the Philippines.

Ahmed said, “This (CMA) is a corporate citizenship priority for Citi and, as a firm, we are very focused on microfinance as a means to provide people with an opportunity to achieve their dreams and create jobs in their respective communities.”

He said, the bank, “as a global corporate citizen, supports financial inclusion, small businesses and entrepreneurs.”

Ahmed cited as proof of Citi’s commitment the $1.5 million in grants over the last five years for “training, rewarding and encouraging microentrepreneurs to realize their dreams and to create job opportunities for people in their respective communities.”

CMA honors successful microenterprises with assets ranging from P300,000 to P3 million.

The special award for Agri Micro-business recognizes a microentrepreneur engaged in agriculture, such as the production of food and goods through farming, forestry, livestock, poultry and fishing, while the special award for Community Leadership goes to a microentrepreneur who, through his/her involvement in community projects, has confronted societal or civic issues, addressed health or environmental concerns, or promoted education in the community.

Beyond the award ceremonies, the CMA also ensures awardees receive access to supplementary tools that can help them take their businesses to new heights. Aside from receiving microinsurance coverage and nine-day entrepreneurship training at the Citi Microenterprise Development Center, CMA winners will also be entitled to one laptop and basic computer training. They also gain automatic membership to the CMA Alumni Network to build their market connections and participate in a mentoring program that will help them further improve their businesses.

CMA was introduced in 2002 as Citi celebrated its centennial in the Philippines and in Asia. Since then, it has been adopted as a global program and introduced to over 30 countries. Over the last decade, it has recognized over 100 Filipinos, a number of whom have grown their businesses significantly in terms of profits and assets.

The awards are open to microenterprises with asset size less than P3 million, which is aligned with the microenterprises classification scheme of the Department of Trade and Industry. The business should have successfully grown their enterprise to a level that is now generating employment apart from the household and family members while maintaining a healthy repayment record on their loan even as they build their savings.

Ahmed and Tetangco serve as co-chairpersons of the CMA National Selection Committee that select the winners. Other members include industry and community leaders such as former Monetary Board member Antonino Alindogan Jr., Ayala Corporation president Fernando Zobel de Ayala, RFM Corporation president and CEO Jose Ma. Concepcion III, GMA Network chair Felipe Gozon, Philippine Daily Inquirer chair Marixi Rufino-Prieto, Commission on Filipinos Overseas Secretary Imelda Nicolas, and University of the Philippines-Diliman chancellor Michael Tan.

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TAGS: award, Business, Citi, Citi Microentrepreneurship Award, CMA, Special Award for Green/Sustainable Business, young entrepreneurs, Youth Microentrepreneur of the Year
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