Over 200 rural bankers and other participants throughout the Philippines attended the 2012 National Roundtable Conference organized by the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP) – Microenterprise Access to Banking Services (MABS) Program. The two-day conference is a gathering of all RBAP-MABS participating banks to share and exchange experiences on microfinance operations, new developments in the field, and marks the Programs’ 15th anniversary. The United States Chargé d’Affaires, Ms. Leslie Bassett, opened the 15th year anniversary of RBAP-MABS and Awards Dinner along with Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ Monetary Board Member Ignacio Bunye.
The MABS Program, now on its 15th year, was developed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with RBAP. The Program is overseen by the Office of the President through the Mindanao Development Authority. The Program works with rural banks to develop their capacity to profitably provide financial services – microloans, microdeposits, microinsurance, and mobile phone banking services – to microentrepreneurs, small farmers, and low-income households. The Program has also provided training and technical assistance to more than 300 rural banks and has directly worked with more than 120 banks with more than 1,300 branches and other banking offices to expand a range of microfinance services. These participating banks have disbursed over three million loans totaling overPhP43 billion ($925million) to more than 1,000,000 new microfinance, microagri and housing microfinance borrowers. The banks also manage over 1.4 million microdeposit accounts.
Four (4) past rural bank client winners of the Citibank Microentrepreneur of the Year Awards were also recognized by Ms. Bassett during her opening message which highlighted the credible and effective public-private partnership between USAID, the Philippine Government, and RBAP. She commended the program, saying “We believe that economic growth is sustainable and inclusive if the poorest sectors of society also benefit from this growth. Their ability to save, borrow, and protect themselves financially are critical to this deal. Through USAID’s MABS Program, this has been largely realized for hundreds of thousands of partner banks’ customers.”
The event also marks the continuation of the USAID-supported MABS activities and initiatives under the RBAP and the Rural Bankers Research Development Foundation, Inc. Key discussions during the two-day conference focused on new regulations on consumer protection and transparency, microinsurance, mobile banking technology, market research, microfinance services, and the uses of social networking tools to reach clients.