BSP, Citi and MCPI mark 10 years of honoring microentrepreneurs

Hog raiser Floraiwin Cainglet could not prevent her tears from falling when she was announced as the 2012 Citi Microentrepreneur of the Year.  With husband Rommel by her side, Cainglet vowed not only to continue growing her business, but also to share her prize money to a local feeding program.

Hog raiser Floraiwin Cainglet (center) of Iloilo was named the Citi Microentrepreneur of the Year in ceremonies held at the Hyatt Hotel. She started with two piglets in 2004, and now manages a P2.5 million business with her husband Rommel (4th from right). The couple’s use of innovative technologies including an automatic feeder for swine and use for biogas reduced their operating costs as well as increased productivity. They are joined in photo by judges led by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco, Jr. (4th from left) and Citi Country Officer Sanjiv Vohra (rightmost). Other judges include (from left) Dr. Darwin Yu, Jose Concepcion III, Robina Gokongwei-Pe, Marixi Prieto and Antonino Alindogan, Jr.

Cainglet joined five more outstanding individuals who were honored by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Citi Philippines and the Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc. (MCPI) in ceremonies held at Hyatt Hotel. Three microentrepreneurs hailed from Luzon, while two were from Visayas and one from Mindanao.  These women bested over 100 nominees and received more than P750,000 in cash prizes as well as scholarships to entrepreneurial training and three-year microinsurance coverage.

Funded by Citi Foundation, the Citi Microentrepreneur of the Year Awards (CMA) was launched in 2002 as part of the celebrations for Citi’s 100th year in the Philippines.  The program recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs with assets of P3 million or less, who have achieved remarkable growth as indicated by employment generation, profits and sales turnover as well as contributed to community development.

All these criteria were clearly met by Cainglet.  She started with two piglets in 2004, and now manages a P2.5 million business.  Her use of innovative technologies including an automatic feeder for swine and use for biogas considerably reduced operating costs as well as increased productivity.

In his welcome remarks, Citi Country Officer Sanjiv Vohra underscored the importance of access to microcredit.  “Microfinance and microenterprise play an important role in the development of any economy and society.  In the last decade, we have recognized and awarded nearly 90 outstanding Filipino microentrepreneurs, many of which have been able to use the awards as a boost to becoming sustainable enterprises that are not only providing opportunities for themselves, but for their families and community.  If there is one aspect about this program that makes Citi very proud, it is the fact that it shows that access to microfinance is truly adding real measurable value to local communities.”

Without access to microcredit, regional winners Milagros Hiyas (Luzon), Abella de Dios (Visayas), and Rabia Mangumping (Mindanao), would not have been able to realize their dreams and provide for their families.  Milagros’ rattan furniture business now owns three shops with 16 workers.  Abella’s burger joint has become a full blown buffet bar and restaurant with as many as 15 workers during peak season, while Rabia’s dress shop for Muslim brides has grown to a P2.3 million enterprise. Special awardees for social innovation, Marilyn Fajardo and Lenieflor Ico, also showed remarkable drive and success starting with almost nothing.  Marilyn was selling cosmetics and now owns a fleet of pedicabs with 41 drivers, many of whom are ex-convicts that she wanted to give a second chance at improving their lives.  Lenieflor had only P100 in capital when she began her icing flower candies business, and now enjoys sales of more than P3 million.

BSP Governor Amando Tetangco was the keynote speaker and he said: “The effective partnership between Citi, MCPI and the BSP has allowed us to provide a fitting venue to highlight the exceptional stories of our country’s industrious and resilient microentrepreneurs.  Today, as we mark our 10th year of cooperation, we celebrate this strong testament of the importance of client focus in microfinance.

Tetangco and Vohra serve as co-chairpersons of the National Selection Committee that determined this year’s winners. The other judges included industry and community leaders such as former Monetary Board member Antonino Alindogan, Jr., Ayala Corporation President and COO Fernando Zobel de Ayala, RFM Corporation President and CEO Jose Concepcion III, GMA Network Chairman Atty. Felipe Gozon, Robinsons Retail Group President and COO Robina Gokongwei-Pe, Philippine Daily Inquirer chairperson Marixi Prieto, and Ateneo de Manila University Professor Dr. Darwin Yu.

The affair also served as venue to launch the CMA Alumni Network, as BSP, Citi and MCPI work hand in hand to further support and strengthen the businesses of the men and women they have awarded over the last 10 years.

In announcing the CMA Alumni Network, MCPI Chairperson Mila Mercado-Bunker said: “With the launch of the CMA Alumni Network, the winners receive an intangible prize – that feeling of belonging to the circle of the most outstanding microentrepreneurs in the country. The Alumni Network will link and bring back the winners together to interact, learn from, and share with fellow role models the knowledge and experiences in the pursuit of continuously improving their businesses.”

Some of the newly-inducted members to the CMA Alumni Network were feted in a commemorative book entitled “Small Steps to Success”.  This publication was intended to celebrate the 10 years of CMA, and feature 10 inspiring stories of economic heroism.

“As we celebrate the 10th year of CMA, we hope that this program will continue to highlight the success stories of poor Filipinos who through microfinance were able to rise above poverty relying on hard work, perseverance, and innovation.  Microentrepreneurs are the new hope of this generation and the force that will take this nation to new heights. Citi remains steadfast in its support of the CMA, and we consider our investment in this program as one way in which we can contribute to the development of the Philippine economy,” concluded Vohra.