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CMA to honor COVID-19 response champion

/ 05:10 AM January 03, 2021

As the new coronavirus disease pandemic continues to ravage the country, the Citi Microentrepreneur of the Year Award (CMA) 2020 will honor small businesses that have shown resilience, flexibility and determination to overcome the unexpected disruptions.

The annual CMA search, which was launched virtually recently, has tweaked its criteria a little to accommodate the realities of the pandemic that resulted in lockdowns, quarantines and travel restrictions, among others. It has also added a specific category to honor outstanding performance at this time of crisis, COVID-19 Response Champion.

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Rather than simply choosing micro, small or medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs) who successfully grew their businesses with modest start-up capitals and loans from microfinance institutions, CMA, in the time of COVID-19, will “recognize outstanding microentrepreneurs, especially ones who supported, innovated, or led COVID-19 response initiatives to help others.”

With the challenges posed by the continuing pandemic, the 2020 CMA recipients, “should have successfully rebuilt their enterprise to a level that is now contributing to local economies during the COVID-19 crisis, while maintaining a healthy repayment record on their loan even as they continue to rebuild their enterprise.”

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The annual CMA, which will actually be presented in June 2021 because of the pandemic, will choose a national winner from among three island group winners representing Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, and two special awardees, a Youth Microentrepreneur and COVID-19 Response Champion.

The island group winners, Youth Microentreprenuer and COVID-19 Response Champion will each get P100,000. The national winner from among the five will get an additional P100,000. Winners will also be given a one-year microinsurance coverage (life insurance amounting to P200,000 and health insurance covering hospitalization, out-patient care, preventive health care, emergency care, and dental health care) to protect them and their dependents against death, injury and illness, and other unforeseen events.

Funded by Citi Foundation, the nationwide search is a partnership among the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Citi Philippines and the Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc.

The competition is open to microenterprises with assets less than P3 million ($58,000). Nominees for the Youth award must be between 15 and 30 years of age. The COVID-19 Response Champion should have supported, innovated, or led COVID-19 response initiatives to help others.

Citi Philippines chief executive officer Aftab Ahmed said in his opening remarks at the CMA 2020 launch, “Despite the pandemic-related challenges, Citi Foundation continues with its mission to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. Citi also continues to invest in efforts that lead to an increase in financial inclusion and is constantly engaged in reimagining and redefining strategies for purposes of helping build economically vibrant communities.”

BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno described the  search “a landmark for the CMA program, for being launched amid the COVID-19 pandemic and showcasing the determination of Filipino microentrepreneurs to succeed at this trying time.”

Diokno underscored the importance of MSMEs, calling them a “critical sector of our country” that had to be sustained because they provided essential products and services.”

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He pointed out that “MSMEs account for 99.5 percent of business enterprises, 62.4 percent of total employment, and 35.7 percent of gross value added.”

MSMEs were, the governor noted, “Predominant in low-income areas and serving as engines driving local economies; microentrepreneurs also nurture swathes of the Filipino population depending on them for post-pandemic recovery and rebuilding. Through CMA 2020, we highlight the creativity and internal fortitude of our microentrepreneurs to serve as a great inspiration.”

Aside from choosing new winners, this year’s CMA program will also extend a COVID-19 rehabilitation support package of up to P50,000 to previous award recipients to help revitalize their businesses.

Ahmed said, since the CMA was launched in the Philippines in 2002, “we have recognized 141 outstanding Filipino microentrepreneurs for their business skills, for the success of their respective enterprises, and for the extraordinary contributions made to their communities.”

Two of the recipients of the rehabilitation package attended the CMA virtual launch: Keith Varias, a Youth Microentrepreneur winner who runs a computer center in Alfonso, Cavite; and Rosario Amoroto, 2018 regional winner for Visayas who has a calamansi juice business.

Varias said “CMA is helping me to bounce back from the adversities and rebuild my livelihood. It has been truly a blessing to be a recipient of this program.” The CMA, Amoroto said, helped her to “take her business to the next level and survive the pandemic,” as she struggled to help her workers and farmer partners and their families and their community. —CONTRIBUTED

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TAGS: Citi Microentrepreneur of the Year Award (CMA), COVID-19, small businesses
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