Put your money where your heart is
The Philippines , January, 30 2007 -
Two Mondays ago, I attended the first anniversary of the Pinoy Micro Enterprise (Pinoy ME) consortium at the Tiendesitas shopping complex. The consortium was organized by former President Corazon C. Aquino through the Benigno S. Aquino Jr. Foundation to wage war against poverty through micro enterprise. In President Aquino’s view, the war against poverty can be waged by raising People Power to another level.
The new level of People Power involves harnessing the energies of individuals and institutions to make microfinance reach five million poor households and raise P5 billion for capacity-building, guarantee-funding and other support interventions to help microfinance institutions (MFIs) to achieve the requisite scale in five years. The Pinoy ME seeks to create a sense of national pride and should be seen as a drive to move forward by empowering the poor through micro-enterprise development.
A key component of Pinoy ME is raising the P5-billion capital for microfinance. To help achieve this gargantuan task, the Pinoy ME Social Investment Fund (SIF) was launched with businessman Ramon R. del Rosario Jr., treasurer of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and member of the Pinoy ME Steering Committee providing details on various aspects of the SIF.
The SIF is a joint project of Pinoy ME and the PBSP. Both organizations aim to raise P1 billion that will be used to support MFIs. The fund will be the first step in the consortium’s goal of raising P5 billion in capital for microfinance.
Del Rosario said that the SIF will initially be managed by PBSP with Pinoy ME envisioned to be an independent nonstock, nonprofit corporation that adapts the business model of an investment house. Unlike however the traditional investment house, the SIF will focus on serving poor groups and individuals who do not have access to the formal financial system. The SIF will promote the principle of the double bottom line by accomplishing both financial and social profits, according to del Rosario. Through the healthy profit it will make from its operations, the SIF will become a stable financial institution with a social mission way beyond its life.
The ultimate goal of the fund is not only to make capital available to the traditionally nonbankable segments but also to enable capital to flow down to that neglected level of the economic pyramid. If it works, this initiative could encourage other financial intermediaries to enter this market thereby creating a robust financial market at this segment of the economy.
There is much more to be learned about Pinoy ME and the SIF such as who can access the fund, how will the fund operate, how will funds be raised and how one can invest. Suffice it to say however that we have the beginnings of a pioneering social enterprise that uses basically the same force that resulted in People Power I: the generous heart of the Filipino.
“Thru the SIF, Pinoy ME is committed to make an investor’s money grow so that its benefit will continue to multiply, hopefully beyond our lifetime. If you strongly feel that you want to do something about poverty, if your heart is with us in Pinoy ME, we say, put your money where your heart is” asserts del Rosario.
Philip Ella Juico is Dean of the De La Salle Professional Schools—Ambassador Ramon V. del Rosario Sr. Graduate School of Business. He was Secretary of Agrarian Reform during the administration of Corazon C. Aquino and Chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission under Fidel V. Ramos. Juico holds the Corazon C. Aquino distinguished chair for Business Management at De La Salle.