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ATENEO RENEWS PARTNERSHIP WITH BPI GLOBE BANKO ON MICROFINANCE

On February 18, 2011, Ateneo de Manila University signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with BPI Globe BanKO for the renewal of their partnership on the Ateneo Microfinance Capacity-Building Program. This program aims to extend capacity-building interventions to local and international microfinance and microenterprise stakeholders to improve their delivery of financial services to the enterprising poor.

Ateneo started to offer Microfinance as an elective course to undergraduates in 2002 through the Development Studies Program, and soon the first Microfinance Series for practitioners was offered in 2005. A full-blown Diploma Course in Microfinance was launched in 2006. In the same year Ateneo forged a partnership with BPI Foundation to deliver the courses outside Metro Manila. The Ateneo Diploma Course in Microfinance covers a broad range of topics and trends in microfinance and equips the training participants with practical and employable tools for improving the institutional and operational policies of microfinance institutions (MFIs).

All the trainers of the Ateneo’s Microfinance Program are also part of the Social Enterprise Development Partnerships, Inc. (SEDPI), a microfinance capacity-building institution led by young and dynamic social entrepreneurs. Aside from the public training courses offered under the Ateneo Microfinance Capacity-Building Program, SEDPI also offers organizational appraisals, public and customized trainings, technical and mentoring assistance, research, strategic planning and other management services for microfinance institutions. SEDPI also conducts trainings on Financial Literacy for remittance senders and receivers both locally and internationally.

To date, 46 trainings in 11 key cities in the Philippines have been conducted, with a total of 957 participants from 169 organizations, including participants from different provinces in the Philippines and different countries abroad. Among the participants who have attended the trainings are middle and senior managers of microfinance institutions, donor agencies, government agencies and development-oriented business firms. The trainings are currently being conducted in five training hubs with partner MFIs in Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Dipolog and Quezon City. Four more training hubs in Baguio, Cebu, Vigan and Metro Manila are being eyed for this installment of the partnership. The list of training courses includes Fundamentals and Methodologies of Microfinance, Market-Based Financial Product Design and Development, Delinquency Management and Financial Analysis, among others. In the past six years, the number of topics offered has grown from five courses to 16 courses.

The first Memorandum of Agreement with BPI Foundation was signed in August 2006. Ateneo takes the role of building the capacity of MFIs while the BPI Foundation offers Capacity-Building Loans to complement the program. These loans are offered to MFIs for their capacity-building programs such as trainings for their personnel and development of their management information systems. MFIs may borrow up to Php 1 million.

Now in its third installment, the partnership with BPI is handled by BPI Globe BanKO, a mobile savings bank for Filipinos with limited access to financial services. BanKO is a joint venture among BPI, Ayala Corporation and Globe Telecom, combining and harnessing the three companies’ specializations on sustainable development, financial services and mobile technology. According to BanKO President Ms. Teresita B. Tan, BanKO, which translates in English as “My Bank,” was put up primary as a response to the needs of the poor. According to her, “Our first learning when we were going around [the Philippines] is that the poor want a bank that they can relate to.” The bank primarily focuses on wholesale lending and capacity-building for microfinance institutions as well as financial services for the poor through mobile banking.

The MOA signing, which was held in BPI Globe BanKO’s office in Greenhills, San Juan, marks another milestone in the partnership. Mr. Josaias Dela Cruz, Vice President of BPI Globe BanKO, is proud of the partnership between these institutions that share the same goal of nation-building. According to him, “We are all very happy [for this partnership]. Hopefully, [through this partnership], we not only become men and women for others, but make our country proud as well.” The renewal of the partnership is also in line with the nation-building theme of the recently concluded Sesquicentennial Celebration of the Ateneo de Manila University. Its President, Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, SJ, has this to say, “We really appreciate this partnership and we look forward to [expanding it]. This is a big challenge for all of us. Hopefully, [through this program], the poor will have a bigger share of the national wealth.”