Metrobank Foundation champions livelihood, enterprise growth at 41st Grants Roundtable

The 41st Grants Roundtable was held at the GT Tower Penthouse in Makati City on May 24, 2024. In attendance were key representatives from Metrobank Foundation, Inc. and partner institutions from Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company, Manila Tytana Colleges, GT Capital, and First Metro Asset Management, Inc. They were joined by partner organizations and community-based enterprise beneficiaries such as Good Neighbors International Philippines, East-West Seed Foundation, Community Crafts Association of the Philippines, and Handicapped Care Association.

Metrobank Foundation, Inc. (MBFI) successfully hosted its 41st Grants Roundtable (GRT) on May 24, 2024, at GT Tower International, Ayala Avenue in Makati City, focusing on enhancing local enterprises’ productivity and resilience while promoting inclusive growth. Through the event themed “Engaging Networks for the Generation and Advanced Growth of Enterprises” (E.N.G.A.G.E.), MBFI aimed to foster collaboration and share best practices among partners to drive development aligned with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Key challenges facing Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the Philippines, such as financial literacy and digital adaptation, were highlighted by Corona Olivia Rivera, division chief of Area 1 of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) National Capital Region Office. She emphasized the role of DTI’s Negosyo Center, in bridging gaps in financial, technological, and market access, stating, “The challenges faced by the MSMEs are multifaceted, but with the right support and resources, we can empower these enterprises to thrive and contribute to economic growth.”

Corona Olivia Rivera, division chief of Area 1 - NCR Office of the Department of Trade and Industry, was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation by MBFI for her presentation on ”Overview and Insights in Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise Development at the Local/Community Level.”

Projects showcased during the event demonstrated tangible impacts on communities. Mary Joyce Gaviola, program manager of East-West Seed Foundation, discussed the success of the “Gulayamanan” project, noting, “The participants experienced a significant increase in knowledge and skills, which led to high harvest consumption and improved sales. Despite the challenges brought by the El Niño phenomenon, the community’s resilience and commitment were commendable.”

Mary Joyce Gaviola, program manager of East-West Seed Foundation, presented how vegetable production training, through the support of MBFI, benefited 25 families with no regular income.

Czarina Gragera, officer-in-charge for operations and program manager of Community Crafts Association of the Philippines (CCAP), highlighted the positive outcomes of the “Developing Community-Based Enterprise for Grassroots Women Weavers in Aklan” project. She mentioned, “This initiative successfully increased daily wages and improved financial management and market access for the beneficiaries.”

Czarina Gragera (left), officer-in-charge for operations and program manager, together with Jessylyn Gonzales (right), sales associate of Community Crafts Association of the Philippines, Inc. showcased handcrafted products made by their beneficiaries during the exhibit at the 41st Grants Roundtable.

Emma Concepcion Negros, field manager of Good Neighbors International Philippines, shared insights from the “Livelihood Access for Marginalized and Unemployed Women in Bohol” project, stating, “Empowering women economically has significantly enhanced their confidence and skills. The project’s success lies in the active participation and ownership demonstrated by the beneficiaries, which we consider our partners.”

Celeste Apa, fundraising manager, and Emma Concepcion Negros, field manager of Good Neighbors International Philippines, shared how their project restored the livelihood of 26 unemployed women in Bohol through capacity-building workshops on entrepreneurship, financial management, and literacy.

The event also featured an exhibit showcasing products from livelihood partner beneficiaries. Philip Francisco Dy, MBFI’s executive vice president, facilitated a workshop on the elements of implementing successful livelihood interventions where he stressed the importance of capacity-building in financial literacy, technical training, and market awareness, as well as the need to future-proof interventions to ensure sustainability.

Dy also expressed pride in the foundation’s partnerships and reiterated MBFI’s commitment to supporting impactful projects that uplift communities through open dialogues with partner institutions and supported local enterprises to ensure that projects stay on track and continually improve toward achieving its objective of uplifting lives.

“Many people are unaware that MBFI has a grants program. Through this program, we partner with amazing organizations to bring impactful projects to life. We are hopeful that opportunities like these, where we share knowledge and support each other, will help us find more advocates and uplift more lives. Knowledge empowers us to improve our work, gain confidence, and draw inspiration. Together, we can face challenges and implement new interventions for the betterment of our communities,” Dy stated.

The hybrid setup allowed partner organizations and beneficiaries outside Metro Manila to join the event. Online attendees included CCAP's community-based enterprise partner-beneficiaries named Monlaque Agrarian Reform Cooperative from Aklan, Milalittra Farmers Agriculture Cooperative from Bukidnon, Cabuaan Ginger Association as well as Development of Indigenous Women's Association from Nueva Vizcaya, and the Nueva Vizcaya Provincial Local Government-Provincial Cooperative and Enterprise Development Office. 

The success of the projects presented at the GRT showcases the strengths of community-based interventions supported by MBFI. These projects not only address immediate livelihood needs but also long-term capacities for self-reliance and sustainable growth. As MBFI continues to support various organizations, the Foundation remains committed to embodying our “Heart to Serve” in making a lasting impact on    the lives of vulnerable communities across the Philippines.