‘Tech-savvy’ microentrepreneurs, microfinance firms honored
The same pioneering spirit, determination and resilience that had given them the courage to start modest business ventures and survive and thrive during a deadly pandemic enabled 24 microentrepreneurs to embrace digital financial technology.
For their openness to change and innovation, the microentrepreneurs were honored at the country’s first Digital Financial Inclusion Awards (DFIA), jointly undertaken by Citi Philippines, Microfinance Council of the Philippines and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
Awards were also presented to four microfinance institutions that harnessed the latest in financial technology and used digital solutions to expand their services and make more convenient, faster and safer various transactions “from payments to savings to disbursements and investments.”
The first DFIA recipients were: Norma Alcrates, Laguna; Lorie Jane Almazora, Laguna; Phoebe Borce, Dumaguete City; Margie Bunzol, Batangas; Ofelia Cabral, Bulacan; Marilyn Centeno, Pangasinan; Vicente Cristobal, Cavite; Angelita Dagoc, Cebu; Rosalinda Espana, Aurora; Rosalyn Espenorio, Cotabato; Maxima Forbes, Quezon; Jeriel Gelito, Quezon; Josie Mae Iroy, Davao City; Merlyn Jolo, Caloocan City; Susana Malabanan, Quezon; Maria Sol Manlabe, Bago City; Nida Lyn Paculba, Iligan City; Sarah Jane Pascual, Pateros (Metro Manila); Lalyn Reporas, Negros Occidental; Leonie Reyes, Laguna; Adela Rivadeneira, Marinduque; Melanie Valenzuela, Batangas; Alfredo Villocino, Cavite; and Maria Hazel Vitamog, Ilocos Sur.
The four microfinance institution awardees were Cantilan Bank, Surigao del Sur; CARD MRI, Laguna; Kabalikat para sa Maunlad na Buhay, Inc., Valenzuela City; and Taytay sa Kauswagan, Inc., Rizal.
The winners received cash and other prizes.
The offshoot of the Citi Microentrepreneur Award (CMA), DFIA “was developed to encourage and support microentrepreneurs and microfinance institutions to leverage digitalization as a means to grow and enhance their customer base, their sales volume, and their profitability.”
Aftab Ahmed, Citi Philippines chief executive officer, describes DFIA as the evolution of CMA, which ran for 18 years. The DFIA, he says, is “another and equally important initiative that will continue to help microentrepreneurs grow their businesses and provide enhanced employment opportunities in their respective communities.”
He underscores the importance of digital transformation of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in promoting financial inclusion, a priority goal of the Philippine government, spearheaded by the BSP.
Keynote speaker BSP Deputy Governor Bernadette Romulo-Puyat says the DFIA puts the spotlight on MSMEs “that have successfully leveraged digital transformation to grow their businesses.”
The awards are also seen to push the digital transformation of rural financial institutions to develop digital solutions and channels to expand and strengthen their services.
Ahmed and BSP Governor Felipe Medalla cochaired the national selection committee, which consisted of Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual, RFM Corp. president/CEO Jose Ma. Concepcion III, SM Investments Corp. independent director and former Trade chief Ramon Lopez, Inquirer Group of Companies CEO Alexandra Prieto Romualdez, financial trainer and adviser Salve Duplito, Asian Development Bank’s Kelly Hattel and International Finance Corp.’s Lowell Campbell.
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