Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) in the Philippines Agree to Deliver Health Services to Their Clients and Community
Laguna, Philippines (15 October 2012) – In agreement and recognition of the importance of having sound health conditions of members as part of their economic and social development, sixteen key microfinance institutions (MFIs) in the Philippines signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to include basic health services in their main programs and share leadership and resources to efficiently and effectively deliver said health services that will benefit about 4.3 million clients.
The MoU, which was signed last 06 October 2012 at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Conference Center in Makati City, Philippines, brought together sixteen MFIs in the Philippines to form a technical working group and pilot test sharing of their resources for health programs such as community clinics, joint venture on pharmacies, provision of affordable medicines, and the like. These MFIs are Alalay Sa Kaunlaran, Inc. (ASKI), ASA Philippines Foundation, Inc., Bukidnon Integrated Network of Home Industries, Inc. (BINHI), Center for Community Transformation (CCT), Daan sa Pag-Unlad, Inc. (DSPI), Kabalikat Para Sa Maunlad na Buhay, Inc. (KMBI), KFI Center for Community Development Foundation, Inc. (KCCDFI), LifeBank Foundation, Inc., Pag-Inupdanay Inc., Rural Bank of Talisayan-Mutual Benefit Association (RBT-MBA) and Fonus Multi-Purpose Cooperative (MFI), Inc. Taytay Sa Kauswagan, Inc. (TSKI), Tulay Sa Pag-Unlad, Inc. (TSPI), USWAG Development Foundation, Inc., Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) Inc., CARD Bank, Inc. (A Microfinance-Oriented Rural Bank), and CARD SME Bank, Inc. (A Thrift Bank).
Witnessing the MoU signing were Dr. David Lozada, Jr., Undersecretary of Department of Health, Prof. Ernesto Garilao, President of Zuellig Family Foundation, and Dr. Jaime Aristotle Alip, President of CARD Inc. and Managing Director of CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI).
“This is a historical event for the microfinance industry in the Philippines,” said Dr. Jaime Aristotle Alip, President of CARD Inc. and Managing Director of CARD MRI. “For the first time, the 16 biggest MFIs in the country are present and showed their support for the project which could benefit about 4.3 million MFI clients, or about 20 million including their family members, which constitute to about 1/5 of our country’s population.”
This initiative was a result of a two-day workshop conducted by CARD Inc. and Freedom from Hunger (FFH), a U.S. based international development organization, on 30-31 August 2012 for the selected MFIs in their desire to reach more Filipinos and provide them with health services. The workshop enabled these MFIs to share experience-based examples, lessons learned, cost information and discussions in addressing the link between poverty and ill health without taking them off-track their respective institutional objectives.
In 2006, Freedom from Hunger implemented the Microfinance and Health Protection (MAHP) Program to 5 partners in India, West Africa, Latin America and Philippines. In the Philippines, CARD Inc. was chosen as its partner for the implementation of MaHP Program and was provided technical assistance by FFH to implement the program. The partnership ended in 2009 and CARD Inc. continued and expanded the health programs it has already established.
CARD, Inc., along with the MFIs who signed the agreement, believes that it should also focus on the health needs of its clients and members in order to fully reach economic and social development.
“There is really a need to address not only their livelihood but also their health needs and requirements. We must go back to our original objective why we established microfinance,” Dr. Alip said.
Microfinance has been an instrumental tool for promoting social and economic development of the poor as it provides them capital to enable them to establish small-and-medium enterprises that help them improve their economic and social conditions. Having already addressed these concerns, the MFIs now go beyond microfinance and look into providing health services to their clients as having sound health conditions is also essential in reaching development.
Professor Ernesto Garilao, President of the Zuellig Family Foundation, who was also one of the keynote speakers of the event, said, “Clients come to the microfinance institutions to have a chance to break their cycle of poverty through livelihood opportunities. This is an opportunity for the MFIs to help them realize this, since we all know that whatever gains they made through capital build-up, somehow, somewhere, this gets decapitalized when the clients or their family members get sick. Maternal and child health are the most affected by health inequities.”
Basic maternal and child healthcare are one of the components of the program which will initially run for six months.
The Department of Health values this partnership among MFIs to provide basic health services to their clients.
“We concur with you that integrating microfinance and health programs makes perfect collaboration. You can offer unique opportunities for the distribution of health education, products and services, as well as providing health care financing option to millions of hard to reach poverty stricken communities. We thank you for affirming the importance of health services as part of the mutually reinforcing institutions’ social responsibility to clients and their community,” Dr. David Lozada, Jr., Undersecretary of the Department of Health, also one the keynote speakers of the signing, said.
CARD, Inc. was established in December 1986 as a social development foundation as a concerted response to the growing poverty incidence in depressed communities in Regions IV and V, particularly in the provinces of Laguna, Quezon, Mindoro Oriental, Mindoro Occidental, Marinduque, Masbate and the Bicol Region. Its vision has always been to establish a bank created for, owned and managed by landless rural women.
Today, CARD, Inc. has grown to nine different mutually reinforcing institutions dedicated to ultimately empower socially-and-economically challenged women and families through continuous access to financial, micro insurance, educational, livelihood, health and other capacity-building services to eventually transform them into responsible citizens for their communities, reaching more than 1.7 million families in the country. It has about 1,551 offices which include partner offices in Cambodia, Laos, Hong Kong, Laos and Myanmar.
(For additional information, please contact Ms. Cleofe Figuracion, Manager, CARD MRI Microfinance and Health Protection (MAHP) Program at email@example.com /firstname.lastname@example.org and/or Ms. Sylvia Christine Inciong, Corporate Communications Consultant, CARD MRI Corporate Communications Unit at email@example.com.)