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Published on Jun 21, 2008
As part of its flagship program to help end the cycle of poverty in the country, the PLDT-Smart Foundation partnered with ASA Philippines Foundation recently to help contractual employees of PLDT and Smart gain access to micro-financing.
With the launching of this PSF-ASA micro-finance project, recipients can now start borrowing capital at a very small interest to start their business and thus help them augment their income and take home pay, PLDT and Smart Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said.
PLDT-Smart Foundation President Butch Meily said the program is groundbreaking since it makes funds available to janitors, waiters, drivers, guards and other PLDT and Smart contractual, casual and temporary employees who would have otherwise found it hard to apply for loans in regular banks or financial institutions.
“Nowhere else in the world is micro-finance used in this way – for the casual employees of a company – it is usually given to micro-entrepreneurs,” Meily explained.
So far, the PSF has extended a five-million peso contribution to ASA last year to finance its’ operations. This year, the foundation is poised to provide a fresh input of capital to the foundation by way of a loan, added Meily.
“This is a novel use of micro-financing – to help uplift the lower income casual employees of a company,” said Kamrul Tarafder, president of ASA foundation, a non-profit, non-stock organization.
Aside from helping contractual employees gain entry to micro-finance, the PSF, together with partners such as the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), is also gearing up for other livelihood projects in the countryside such as livelihood seminars and training.
“We’re looking around for projects that can really help break the cycle of poverty and one of the things that we are focusing on is micro-finance. It helps people help themselves and, at the same time, has a multiplier effect,” Meily said, noting that entrepreneurs are able to help their families, customers and suppliers.
ASA Philippines Foundation is a leading micro-finance institution in the country, whose 70,000 beneficiaries posted a repayment rate of 99.7 percent since 2004.