Micro-finance supports SMEs

Teodoro P. Estacio Teodoro P. Estacio

With a network of 1,150 branches as of end of 2018, this micro-finance foundation covers about 82 provinces serving over a million borrowers in 25,239 barangays . As of year in review, they have disbursed more than P190 billion in micro loans since it was founded way back in July, 2004.

To administer its current program of activities, it has employed more than 8,000 staff, 6,000 of which act as micro-finance officers who not only promote the foundation’s services among the poorest of the poor but also ensure that the loans extended are put into its proper use , repayment agreement are efficiently fulfilled while savings generation continues. To date, the foundation is proud to report a 94.5% collection efficiency for every loan extended to the community.

The foundation is named ASA Philippines Foundation , founded in July 9, 2004 by three men whose concern for the poor is unparalleled – namely, Howard O. Dee, Edward S. Go and Kamrul H. Tarafder with bulk of their initial capital provided by two private foundations.

One will probably ask the difference of ASA with other micro-finance enterprises? What could be their formula for success to be able to build its current network of branches and serve a big percentage of our barangays? How are they able to “get connected with the people”?

If one will examine their historical performances and review their program of activities, it is not easy to miss and notice that this foundation has worked beyond their mission of providing the poor with their much needed micro-finance loans but also ensured the development of their staff by providing them above standard employment benefits and career path that otherwise is not easy to achieve with other companies. Lastly, they ensure that the foundation is managed properly and becomes the best in the sector.

One noticeable difference of ASA with other micro-finance and even community credit cooperatives is their ability to develop the habit of savings among their family members. The more than 1.7 million members have generated a savings of more than P8 billion.

Another achievement of ASA in the field of lending is their ability to see through that their clients put up their desired micro enterprises. These clients have projects in progress like handicrafts-making, contract farming, agri-products trading, fishing and similar micro-enterprises. Further analysis of loans granted showed that eighty one percent (81%) of the foundation borrowers are able to send their children to school.

In the process of their lending activities, the foundation continues to develop supplementary interventions to the family of the borrowers. They have partnered with national and local schools and training agencies to continue offering development seminars and business training not only to their clients but to the community at large.

Partnership with giants like PLDT Foundation enables them to do more social activities for the members and the community. Other partners of the foundation includes – Water.org, Coca-cola, Landbank, National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, Habitat, and PBSP.

Outside of the usual savings, credit and lending activities, ASA Foundation has set up and provided scholarships program for deserving family members. As of today, they are happy to report 3,498 school children as recipients of more than P28 million in scholarship grants. The foundation has also done relief activities for disaster affected communities (relief extended even to non-clients ), relief to dislocated families of Marawi, and medical missions to many barangays where they operate.

“Nay sa ASA, Boss Ka! “ that is how many of their clients described the foundation for they found in them not only the facility to get the loans that they need but an organization that listen to them.

Micro-Finance need not be a cut and dry operations. It can be a major partner in community development. It can be the right conduit of governments numerous development assistance to the community. Lastly, when it works for the people, works with the people and works beyond their mssion, community development and people building is easy to achieve.