Throughout its more than 12 years of working to strengthen the Philippine microfinance industry, the USAID-supported RBAP-MABS program has sought innovative methods not only in microfinance product and service delivery, but also in training methods on how to sustain best practices and maintain strong business partnerships.
At the 2011 National Roundtable Conference held in Manila on May 23-24, RBAP-MABS, for the first time, employed a “speed networking” approach to facilitate networking among rural banks and other microfinance partners so as to nurture relationships and explore partnerships and business opportunities. RBAP-MABS brought together partner rural banks, insurance providers, MABS service providers (MSPs), and ATM and m-banking partners in the activity.
About Speed Networking
“Speed networking” is a social and business networking event “based on speed dating and a Jewish tradition of chaperoned gatherings of young Jewish singles, originally intended to keep Jewish singles from marrying out of faith”. (See source: European Association for International Education (EAIE) RBAP-MABS modified the original mechanics of this approach to structure an innovative networking opportunity for its partners. Conducted in a “structured and timed environment”, the activity provided an opportunity for participants to learn about each other in a more interactive and intimate setting.
There were 11 institutions with their own “stations” to which participants rotated in small groups. Participants were given six minutes to interact with each group, making sure their presentations meet the EAIE’s 5Cs: Catchy, Concise, Creative, Content Rich and Connective. Each presentation was patterned after the C.U.B.A. guideline to include the following information:
- Company products, including its specialty and what makes it unique
- Users or consumers of the products
- Benefits of the products how this will help in achieving the bank’s goals and objectives
- Availability of the products, including their cost and timing
Through this activity, RBAP-MABS connected rural banks with partners offering microinsurance, mobile phone banking, and the MABS Approach. Moreover, the activity paved the way for business partnerships to increase access to microfinance clients to a broader array of products and services.
Presenting their products and services to rural bankers were microinsurance providers (Bankers Assurance, Cocolife, Country Bankers Life Insurance, MicroEnsure Philippines, Philippine Prudential Life Insurance, Pioneer Life Inc.); ATM (automated teller machine) providers (ENCASH and InfoServe/Nationlink), MF Transparency, Punla sa Tao Foundation, and Globe Telecom’s G-Xchange Inc. (GXI).
GXI offered the participating rural banks an opportunity to become channels for the distribution of conditional cash grants for the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
A Fun New Experience
Both the presenters and participants enjoyed the speed networking activity, seeing it as another way of doing business. According to Mr. Joel Luna of 1st Valley Bank, the activity served as a chance to know new products.
Mr. Nilo Quiroz of GM Bank, who won an umbrella after answering a question from one of the presenters, shared how he enjoyed the new experience of engaging in a new stimulating activity. Other bankers also expressed their enjoyment, like Ms. Brenda Hernandez of Banco Santiago De Libon who commented that the activity is jolly, and that they got the chance to ask lots of questions.