Digital champions honored in 1st Digital Financial Inclusion Awards

Digital Financial Inclusion Awards

Outstanding microentrepreneurs and microfinance institutions (MFIs) who have successfully transitioned their business to harness digital solutions have been honored at the 1st Digital Financial Inclusion Awards (DFIA).

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and Citi Philippines headed the virtual awarding of the 1st DFIA, which aims to strengthen financial inclusion through digitalization of the microfinance sector in the Philippines. The DFIA program is a financial inclusion initiative funded by Citi Foundation in partnership with the Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc. (MCPI), with support from the BSP.

The program focuses on acknowledging outstanding microentrepreneurs as well as MFIs that have successfully adopted digital solutions in their operations and an awareness and readiness campaign on digitalization of MFIs.

Twenty-four microentrepreneurs were recognized and awarded with cash prizes and laptops. The fourteen winners who were awarded with PhP100,000 are: Norma Alcrates, Lorie Jane Almazora, Phoebe Borce, Margie Bunzol, Ofelia Cabral, Marilyn Centeno, Vicente Cristobal, Rosalyn Espenorio, Jeriel Gelito, Josie May Iroy, Susana Malabanan, Sarah Jane Pascual, Leonie Reyes, and Ma. Hazel Vitamog. Ten winners who were more advanced in the use of digital solutions were awarded with PhP110,000. The winners are: Angelita Dagoc, Rosalinda Espana, Maxima Forbes, Merlyn Jolo, Ma. Sol Manlabe, Nida Lyn Paculba, Lalyn Reporas, Adela Rivadeneira, Melanie Valenzuela, and Alfredo Villocino.

Four microfinance institutions were also announced as winners during the awarding ceremony. A cash incentive of PhP100,000 was awarded to the winning MFIs. The cash prize is intended for continuous improvement of their digital financial services program. The MFI winners are Cantilan Bank, Inc, CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions, Kabalikat para sa Maunlad na Buhay, Inc. and Taytay Sa Kauswagan, Inc.

“We congratulate the twenty-four microentrepreneurs and four MFI awardees who have demonstrated resilience and pursued innovations amid the challenges of the pandemic. May your stories inspire many more to embrace digitalization and contribute to accelerating financial inclusion in the country,” said BSP Deputy Governor Bernadette Romulo-Puyat who represented BSP Governor and DFIA National Selection Committee (NSC) co-chair Felipe M. Medalla during the ceremony.

Citi Philippines CEO and DFIA NSC co-chair Aftab Ahmed hopes the advocacy drive of the MFIs and microentrepreneurs intensifies further and the DFIA awards program continues to inspire and recognize their efforts for decades to come. The program is an indication of Citi’s continuous support in strengthening financial inclusion in the country.

“I would like to congratulate all the award winners. The manner in which you have handled the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the high resilience and entrepreneurship spirit of the Filipino microentrepreneur,” said Mr. Ahmed. “Despite the pandemic-related challenges that have impacted all businesses, you have successfully prevailed in the face of adversity. You have innovated, grown your businesses, and continued to provide livelihood opportunities in your local communities.”

Through these efforts, the 1st DFIA will ultimately motivate other MFIs and microentrepreneurs to adapt digital solutions in their institutions that will expand digital financial services and empower local businesses.

The program evolved from the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards (CMA) which MCPI implemented for 18 years starting in 2002. The DFIA program enables Citi Foundation and MCPI to continue raising awareness about the importance of microentrepreneurship and microfinance in supporting the financial inclusion and economic empowerment of low-income individuals.