Microfinance ‘Nanays’ back Sen. Bam’s re-election bid, thank him for making free college a reality

TACLOBAN CITY — Hundreds of Microfinance ‘Nanays’ declared their support behind the re-election bid of Sen. Bam Aquino, saying he helped uplift their lives through his Free College Law and other laws in support of micro entrepreneurs.

The Microfinance ‘Nanays’, or microfinance beneficiaries, expressed their backing for Sen. Bam during a sectoral meeting here on Wednesday.

“At home na at home ako dito. Nakauwi ako sa sektor na malapit sa puso ko at pinaglingkuran ko noon, ang mga nanay sa komunidad na tinulungan namin sa Hapinoy na magnegosyo,” said Sen. Bam, referring to work with the microfinance sector during his time as social entrepreneur before becoming a senator.

In his speech, Sen. Bam said he drew inspiration from community-based mothers in pushing for the passage of the Free College Law, saying he wants to fulfill their dreams of seeing their children obtain a college degree.

“Ang pangarap ng mga magulang na makatapos ang kanilang anak sa kabila ng hirap sa buhay ang nagtulak sa akin na isulong ang Libreng Kolehiyo,” said Sen. Bam, who pushed for the passage of the landmark law as principal sponsor.

“Madalas kong nairirinig sa mga nakakausap kong magulang na simple lang ang pangarap nila, huwag maranasan ng mga anak nila ang hirap na dinanas nila,” he added.

If he wins a second term, Sen. Bam promised to push for the passage of his Trabaho Center Bill, which is aimed to solve the prevalent problem of jobs mismatch and high unemployment rate in the country.

“Kung makakabalik tayo sa Senado, isusulong ko ang Trabaho Center Bill kung saan pagtatagpuin ang mga naghahanap ng trabaho at ang mga kumpanyang naghahanap ng empleyado,” Sen. Bam said.

Sen. Bam emphasized that the Trabaho Center Bill is the next best crucial reform after the Free College Law to help uplift the lives of Filipinos, especially the poor.

Aside from the Free College Law, Sen. Bam also pushed other measures that support micro, small and medium enterprises and microfinance sector, such as the Go Negosyo Act, Microfinance NGOs Act, Credit Surety Fund Cooperative Act, and Personal Property Security Act.

Scaling up support

In 2007, I co-founded the Hapinoy program with the goal of helping women micro-entrepreneurs in the Philippine countryside by creating a solid business network through their sari-sari stores, providing them rigorous training and mentorship, and giving them access to financing, markets, and more business, opportunities.

My experience working with them has deeply shaped my principles on poverty alleviation, inclusive growth through business and empowerment through enterprise.

Our nanays were asked to invest time and energy developing their entrepreneurial and financial management skills to be well equipped to seize the opportunities available to them.

Being a witness to their dedication to uplift their lives and of their family members’ as well, I have deep respect and hope for the micro-entrepreneurs in our country.

Watching them make the most out of their new-found knowledge and business network to expand their stores and sales, I was sold to the belief that if we are able to provide the right opportunities and give them the right break, they would do everything with that opportunity to succeed.

I have seen how our fellow Filipinos with humble backgrounds transformed themselves to astute entrepreneurs with the right support mechanisms in place.

Take the example of Nanay Lani Rebong from Laguna. She started with a table and 3,000 to 5,000 pesos worth of diaper supplies and the will to grow her business to make a better life for her two children.

Since joining the program in 2009 and undergoing business training, she has had three expansions and renovations.

She was given the opportunity to run a mobile money business and now offers money remittance and airtime loading – services that attract regular customers and provide more capital for her store.

From a store-front sari-sari operation, she was able to convert the entire first floor of her home to cater to her growing enterprise. Her store has grown to supply other smaller ones in her area.

She was able to buy a house and lot, a motorcycle, and a tricycle. Most importantly, she was able to send her two children to school and provide a comfortable life for her family.

Nanay Lani and many others are evidence that, given proper training and exposure to opportunities, Filipinos have the grit to better their own lives. Given the chance, the poor themselves can overcome poverty.

Considering that micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) make up 99.6% of all businesses in the Philippines and 91.6% of MSMEs are micro-enterprises, we can only imagine what sort of impact we can generate by growing these businesses and sustaining their success.

Empowering the micro-enterprises around the country is a key to unlocking inclusive growth and shared prosperity.

With this in mind, I authored the Go Negosyo Act, which was signed into law last July 2014. It mandates that a Negosyo Center be established in every municipality, city, and province in the Philippines with the hope of replicating the success of our nanays.

Each Negosyo Center is aimed to be a comprehensive support system for entrepreneurs. Patterned after our experience in Hapinoy, Negosyo Centers will offer training and mentorship, access to financing, and market linkages to help all our small businesses get to a level of sustainability.

This year alone, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is tasked to open one hundred Negosyo Centers around the country, and by 2019, we hope to have over a thousand of these centers equipped to provide valuable support to our MSMEs.

This year, we have already launched Negosyo Centers inDaet, Camarines Norte, Albay, Aklan, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Zamboanga del Sur, and Surigao.

There is no better time than now to push for a massive scale-up of MSME support. We have a proven model for success, a policy to back it up, a substantial base of micro-enterprises, and eager Filipinos just waiting, clamoring to develop their skills and grab at any opportunity.

There is no better time than now to push for inclusive growth and to empower our countrymen to climb out poverty through enterprise development.

The Hapinoy nanays have proven that they can become successful, and my hopeful heart is certain that there are more Filipinos out there who yearn to prove to themselves and to the world that they, too, can succeed, given the right push and support.


First Published on Manila Bulletin

Sen. Bam: PH social enterprise to take centerstage at WEF

Social enterprise in the Philippines will take centerstage when Senator Bam Aquino discusses his experience in empowering and creating opportunities for the poor during the 2014 World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meetings in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.
The senator, who chairs the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, will speak during a session for social entrepreneurs on Jan. 21. The forum proper will be held from Jan. 22 to 25.
The senator will talk about social entrepreneurship in the Philippines during the morning session entitled “Changing the Game: Innovating Smartly in Organizations and Systems” at Post Hotel.
In the afternoon session entitled “Cracking the Emerging Market Code”, Sen. Aquino will share the story behind the successful Hapinoy Program which he co-founded in 2006 before he entered politics.
The Hapinoy Program is a micro-enterprise development program which focuses on small neighborhood convenience stores or sari-sari stores, commonly set up by Filipino mothers to help augment their family’s financial needs.
The program provides mothers with training, access to capital through micro financing, and opportunities for new businesses that will benefit both their families and the communities they are in.
Other Filipino achievers are also expected to join the lawmaker as they attend sessions on business, policy, design and social enterprise.
Sen. Aquino was a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum in 2006 and was a WEF panelist in 2012 for the “Learning from the Frontiers” session.
Based in Geneva , Switzerland , the World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas.
Incorporated as a non-profit foundation in 1971, the WEF is tied to no political, partisan, or national interests. This year’s forum will have “The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business” as its theme.
In April, the Philippines will host the 23rd World Economic Forum on East Asia , which is crucial in the region’s preparation for ASEAN integration in 2015.
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