MANILA, Philippines—Citibank Philippines and Citi Foundation, in partnership with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Microfinance Council of the Philippines Inc., recognized 11 Filipino microentrepreneurs in the 8th Citi Microentrepreneur of the Year Awards at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila.
“The triumph of our microentrepreneurs reflects the triumph of microfinance institutions (MFIs) which provided valuable assets to finance their enterprises,” Governor Tetangco told stakeholders at the awards ceremony.
The success stories of awardees, he said, shows that microfinance can be implemented in a formal and prudently regulated environment, that sustainability can be balanced with social responsibility, and “small clients can become good clients,” given the right products and services.
Last month, a survey of 54 countries ranked the Philippines as the second-best performing country for microfinance and the best worldwide in terms of “Overall Microfinance Business
Environment” in the 2010 study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Peru was the top-ranked country.
“We improved our ranking from No. 3 to No. 2 by overtaking Bolivia. The Philippines also maintained its ranking in the policy and regulatory framework sub-category,” Tetangco said.
Citibank Philippines country head Sanjiv Vohra said, “After eight years, they (microentrepreneurs) continue to inspire all of us.”
He said that since 2002, the awards’ success resulted in the roll-out in over 23 countries.
Microentrepreneurs, he said, are the new hope of this generation and the force that “will take this nation to new heights.”
The awards program has been successful in increasing awareness for microfinance, and providing incentives to microentrepreneurs to enhance technology, improve production and accelerate income-generating activities.
Through the years, the inspiring stories of awardees have served as motivation for other microentrepreneurs to succeed in their own fields. This year, Citibank is giving more than P1 million to deserving awardees in various categories.
The Masikap Award is given to microentrepreneurs who successfully started a business that is now a reliable source of income for the family. Under this category, one National Awardee gets P200,000, while three Island Group Awardees (one for Luzon, another for Visayas and a third for Mindanao) receive P100,000 each.
The national awardee in Masikap category is Ester Lumbo from Negros Oriental, who manufactures export-quality bags made of pandan. Island Group winners are Zenaida Avellaneda, a trader of pawid (nipa shingles) and duckraiser, the winner from Luzon; Mary Jane Reyes, who produces turmeric tea, from the Visayas; and Analiza Candole, who owns a restaurant and sari-sari store, from Mindanao.
The Maunlad Award is given to microentrepreneurs whose businesses generate employment for other people aside from household or family members. As with the Masikap category, one National Awardee gets P200,000, while three Island Group Awardees receive P100,000 each.
The national awardee for the Maunlad category is Nora Bagaforo, fisher and sari-sari store owner from the Visayas. The Island Group winners are farmer Elma Gabriel from Luzon, organic farmer Enrico Jingco from the Visayas, and owner and manager of a manpower services company Letecia Tabotabo from Mindanao.
Special Awards are also given to three microentrepreneurs engaged in agriculture, green or sustainable enterprises, and businesses operating in hard-to-reach areas. These awardees receive P75,000 each.
Farmer Herminigildo Dularte tops the agriculture category, copra harvester Lourdes Acuna gets the prize in the category for businesses operating in hard-to-reach areas, while recycler Ismael Adiaton wins for green or sustainable enterprises.
Each year, the selection process starts with nominations coming from numerous network agencies of MCPI, or the Microfinance Council of the Philippines. These entries are then screened by the Country Team, composed of senior representatives from Citi Philippines, BSP, and MCPI. The same team later convenes to choose the finalists.
The final screening is done by the National Selection Committee, co-chaired by BSP Governor Amando Tetangco and Citibank Country Head Sanjiv Vohra, together with pillars from the print media, the academe, and the private or business sector: Joey Concepcion, Marixi Prieto, Tessie Sy-Coson, lawyer Felipe Gozon, Antonino Alindogan Jr., Dr. Darwin Yu and Fernando Zobel de Ayala.