8th Citi Microentrepreneur of the Year Awardees Bared

Citibank Philippines, Citi Foundation award over P1 million to Filipino microentrepreneurs from across the country

November 17 – Citibank Philippines and Citi Foundation, in partnership with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc. (MCPI), recognized 11 outstanding Filipino microentrepreneurs in the 8th Citi Microentrepreneur of the Year Awards held today at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila.

Now on its eighth year, the awards program has been successful in increasing awareness for microfinance, and providing incentives to microentrepreneurs to enhance technology, improve production, and accelerate income-generating activities.

According to Citibank Philippines’ Country Head Sanjiv Vohra: “The Citibank Microentrepreneur of the Year awards was introduced here in the Philippines in 2002.  Its success has led to the rollout of similar recognition programs in other markets starting in 2005, and today, it is in 23 more countries.  While we’ve done more than our fair share of transporting best practices from our shores onto other countries, I admit to being extremely proud for having been the catalyst for spreading this particular goodwill to other countries.”

Through the years, the inspiring stories of awardees have served as motivation for other microentrepreneurs to succeed in their own fields. This year, Citibank and Citi Foundation gave more than P1 million pesos to deserving awardees in various categories.

The Masikap Award is given to microentrepreneurs who successfully started a business that is now a reliable source of income for the family. The asset size of the microenterprise in this category must be below PHP300,000. Under this category, one National Awardee gets P200,000, while three Island Group Awardees receive P100,000 each.  This year’s National Awardee is Ester Lumbo, a manufacturer of bags made from pandan leaves from the Visayas.  The Island Group winners are: Pawid trader and duck raiser Zenaida Avellaneda from Luzon, Turmeric tea grower and trader Mary Jane Reyes from the Visayas and Carinderia owner Analiza Candole from Mindanao.

The Maunlad Award is given to microentrepreneurs whose businesses are generating employment for other people aside from household or family members. The asset size of the microenterprise in this category must be between PHP300,000 to PHP1 million. As with the Masikap category, one National Awardee gets P200,000, while three Island Group Awardees receive P100,000 each.

This year’s National Awardee for the Maunlad category is Nora Bagaforo, fisher and sari-sari store owner from the Visayas.  The Island Group winners are: farmer Elma Gabriel from Luzon, Organic farmer Enrico Jingco from the Visayas and Owner and manager of a Manpower services company Letecia Tabotabo from Mindanao.

Special Awards are also given to three microentrepreneurs engaged in agriculture, green or sustainable enterprises, and businesses operating in hard-to-reach areas. These awardees receive P75,000 each.

Farmer Herminigildo Dulatre is the winner in the Agriculture category, Copra harvester Lourdes Acuna bagged the prize in businesses operating in hard-to-reach areas category, while recycler Ismael Adiaton won for green or sustainable enterprises.

Each year, the selection process starts with nominations coming from numerous networks of microfinance institutions in the Philippines. These entries are submitted to MCPI then screened by the Country Team, composed of senior representatives from Citibank Philippines, BSP, and MCPI.  The Country Team members later convene to choose the finalists, with the final screening done by the National Selection Committee.

The National Selection Committee is co-chaired by BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. and Vohra, together with community pillars: Joey Concepcion, Marixi Prieto, Tessie Sy-Coson, Atty. Felipe Gozon, Antonino Alindogan, Jr., Dr. Darwin Yu and Fernando Zobel de Ayala.

“The program was designed to honor the best Filipino microentrepreneurs, to raise awareness of microfinance and its benefits in impoverished communities, create role models, and inspire others to be more enterprising,” related Vohra.  “After eight years, they continue to inspire us all at Citibank.  If you are looking for stories of real courage, passion, commitment, hard work, you don’t have to go further than the microentrepreneurs we are toasting today here in this room.”