Manila — The Citi Microenterprise Development Center (CMDC), a partnership between Citi Philippines and the Bayan Academy for Social Entrepreneurship and Human Resource Development, Inc., recently held the graduation rites for its 50th batch of micro entrepreneur-scholars.
The CMDC scholars spent 9-days under the Grassroots Entrepreneurship and Management (GEM) course to learn the different facets of enterprise management including self-mastery, situation mastery, and enterprise mastery. The lectures were facilitated by experts who clearly understand the unique business operations and workings of a microenterprise.
Funded by Citi Foundation, CMDC was launched as a pilot program in 2011 and has since served as a training haven for micro economic heroes.
Citi Philippines Public Affairs and Corporate Citizenship Director Aneth Lim was present to congratulate the graduates, just as she encouraged them to take full advantage of this life-changing opportunity by making a real difference not only in their families but also in their communities. “The future of this nation lies in your hardworking hands,” Aneth said. “We hope you value the investment we have made in you, and pay it forward by growing your businesses, sharing your knowledge smd skills and serve as mentors, and continuing to fuel your success with your courage and determination.”
After graduation, CMDC will continue to support the scholars as they are transitioned to the Citi-Small Business Advisory and Coaching Services (Citi-SBACS) where they are provided with one-on-one business coaching and mentoring on issues such as marketing, finance, human resources, operations, and regulatory requirements.
Bayan Academy’s Chairman & President, Dr. Eduardo A. Morato, Jr., thanked Citi Foundation and Citi Philippines for bringing to life their organization’s entrepreneurship education advocacy throughout the entire Philippines. He also acknowledged more than 250 microfinance institutions, cooperatives and other likeminded institutions in 36 municipalities and cities all over the country for believing in the power of educating micro entrepreneurs on self mastery and enterprise development.
“Through the Citi Microenterprise Development Center, we will continue to empower more Filipino entrepreneurs and other enablers by responding to their needs to create a new entrepreneurial culture in the Philippines,” he added.
The graduates are enthusiastic in their desire to avail of, and benefit from, the programs offered by CMDC—activities that aim to empower and equip them through intensive knowledge and technology transfers.
Foremost among the participants were two winners of the 2015 Citi Microenterpreneurship Awards (CMA): Ester Sheila Vitto of Bahag Footwear and Repair Shop in Oriental Mindoro, who was the Regional Awardee from Luzon; and Special Agri Micro-Business Awardee Victoria Bantilan of Edna’s Fresh Mushrooms in Negros. The CMA is a partnership among Citi Philippines, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and Microfinance Council of the Philippines that honors outstanding Filipino microentrepreneurs through an awards program. Winners of the CMA are awarded scholarships to CMDC.
Since receiving their respective awards last year, which also included generous cash grants that they’ve reinvested into their businesses, these two successful microentrepreneurs have begun reaping the benefits of the recognition gained.
Ester shared that she is in the process of completing a new manufacturing site slated to open this year, which was partly financed from the proceeds of her cash prize. Through this facility, Vitto’s Bahag Footwear and Repair Shop can now increase production and take in more orders of their slippers and sandals, all made from recycled rubber. She is also more confident in her ability to expand beyond Oriental Mindoro, and is looking into franchising as a means to help other micro-business owners.
Meanwhile, Victoria, together with her husband Roberto, have just added a half-hectare lot for organic red and brown rice production, which they grow in addition to mushrooms. Apart from this, they are also looking into expanding their mushroom harvest by way of constructing a new growing house, again using the proceeds from the money that she won.
Even with these achievements, these two enterpreneurs refuse to rest on their laurels, and still find the need for further learnings and knowledge, particularly in the areas of entrepreneurship and business management.
“Even though I already earned a degree in accounting, I realized that by participating in CMDC’s training session, there are still so many things I have to learn,“ shared Victoria. “Apart from that, I was also able to expand my network by meeting like-minded people.”
For Bantilan, such trainings are a boon to those like her who received little formal education. “Even at our age, the training we received will be very beneficial as it opened our minds on how to further grow our business,” she enthused.
CMDC has trained nearly 3,000 microentrepeneurs. More than half have experienced an increase of 10% in their income and almost 4,000 new jobs have been created by the scholars and their businesses. CMDC was formed as a response to the expressed needs of the majority of microentrepreneurs to go back to the learning table and address their knowledge and skills gap in developing and growing their micro businesses.
Citi Philippines Public Affairs and Corporate Citizenship Director Aneth Lim (leftmost) wished the graduates success in their entrepreneurial journey as microbusinesses towards small and medium enterprises in the future. She is joined by (from left): Ester Sheila Vitto and Victoria Bantilan, who were recently named among the winners of the 2015 Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards, and Bayan Academy Executive Director Philip Felipe.
CMDC is a recipient of the Social Empowerment award at the 2013 Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Awards (AREA) for its impact on improving and scaling-up microfinance clients’ businesses.
Citi Philippines and Bayan Academy for Social Entrepreneurship and Human Resource Development Inc. joined hands anew in launching Year Five of the Citi Microenterprise Development Center (CMDC). Funded by Citi Foundation, CMDC provides hundreds of high potential yet low-income micro business owners access to training, coaching and business advisory services on enterprise management, to aid them in growing and expanding their businesses.
Aftab Ahmed, CEO of Citi Philippines led the opening ceremony and commended the microentrepreneurs’ hunger to excel and do well in their micro businesses. In his speech, he said: “I admire each of you for having the conviction to make your dreams a reality. Each of you has successfully created businesses from the ground up, and started an income stream not just for yourselves but also opened job opportunities for the community.”
With four decades of banking experience in 11 countries, Ahmed generously shared his insights and advised the microentrepreneurs not to be afraid to take risks and have the willingness to fail in order to make their businesses grow.
Established in 2011 after a successful pilot in 2010, CMDC has trained and mentored over 1,700 microentrepreneurs nationwide. CMDC was borne as a response to the expressed needs of the majority of microentrepreneurs to go back to the learning table and address their knowledge and skills gap in developing and growing their micro businesses.
Ma. Wilma Ruiz, a 2013 CMDC scholar, attended the opening to inspire the incoming batch of “students”. She shared how the entrepreneurial management courses of CMDC gave her the courage and ability to create a new micro business of selling her own line of perfumes. From a buy and sell business, she has become a producer and built Gemfrali Collection into a viable microenterprise. Today, she carries a growing selection of perfumes and earns more than twice her monthly income compared to when she first started her business.
From 2010, CMDC scholars have steadily experienced an increase in income by at least 10% and have generated over 3,500 jobs. This impact on the lives of the beneficiaries was further validated by a study conducted by the University of the Philippines College of Social Work and Community Development’s Sikhay Kilos Foundation in 2013 from a pool of CMDC scholars from 2010-2011. The study noted that majority of the scholars have obtained positive net worth along with other notable changes in their micro businesses’ such as improvement and/or expansion of product lines, increase in inventories, engagement in other forms of businesses and creation of additional jobs.
Dr. Eduardo A. Morato, Jr., Chairman and President of Bayan Academy thanked Citi Foundation and Citi Philippines for their continued partnership, and pioneering the program that believes in the power of Filipino entrepreneurs. Through CMDC, Bayan Academy is able to share its intellectual capital to the clients of microfinance institutions and at the same time, build a strong social capital that would move the country to its greatest heights in the years to come through enterprise development.
On its 5th year, CMDC is set to train over 600 microentrepreneurs and loan officers on entrepreneurship, including topics on self-mastery, personal finance, marketing, operations, human resources, and finance. Upon graduation, the scholars are entitled to receive Citi Small Business Advisory and Coaching Services from experts that include volunteers from Citi Philippines.
“CMDC is more than just a training and coaching facility – it has become a hub that brings together aspiring micro business owners, business coaches and mentors that include Citi volunteers, as we all work together to build our nation from below,” said Dr. Morato.
With Citi’s commitment in growing grassroots enterprises, the CMDC was recognized as the Social Empowerment Awardee in the 2013 Asia Responsible Most Outstanding Awards given by Enterprise Asia.
This year, as Citi marks 10 years of its Global Community Day, our doors continue to be wide open to the increasing number of Citi volunteer-business mentors who never fail to give their all when coaching our “student” microentrepreneurs.
Our partnership with Citi Philippines began in 2011 when Citi Foundation agreed to pilot our proposal to address the knowledge and skills gap faced by low-income microentrepreneurs who wished to scale up.
We established the Citi Microenterprise Development Center (CDMC) and through a Grassroots Entrepreneurship and Management program, we began providing quality and intensive enterprise development training programs in Metro Manila.
We also knew that our students would need more than formal training so we introduced Small Business Advisory and Coaching Services to mentor our microentrepreneurs as they sought to build bigger and better businesses.
What we didn’t know, however, was just how much support Citi Philippines would provide. We quickly learned that the bank was so much more than checkbook philanthropy. It has and continues to be committed to tapping its people as agents for positive change.
Throughout these years and across our various initiatives, Citi volunteers have guided our microentrepreneurs by providing their expertise on a range of relevant business topics – finance, marketing, operations, law, and leadership, amongst many others.
We at Bayan Academy have been privileged spectators, seeing for ourselves the efforts put in by Citi volunteers to really make an impact in the lives of our beneficiaries.
Our students share the same experience: they continue to be amazed at the deep involvement of Citi volunteers from CCO visits to roundtable discussions and having Legal officers orient them on the laws governing their businesses.
This Global Community Day, aside from classroom mentoring, Citi volunteers will be going one step further. They will be visiting the business premises and employees of our microentrepreneurs, providing them with deeper insight on what they can improve and further develop.
These sessions will further continue post-Global Community Day so that Citi volunteers can monitor the actual implementation of their suggestions and recalibrate if and when necessary.
The entire Bayan Academy community is glad to see Citi volunteers actively engaged; their generosity has become a powerful tool to capacitate the microentrepreneurs towards continuous growth.
The contributions of Citi Foundation, Citi Philippines and the Citi volunteers is more than corporate social responsibility; it is in fact impact investing that has created a model of microenterprise development here in the Philippines.
To date, with support from Citi, Bayan Academy has nurtured almost 2,000 micro business owners keen to take that next big step. Our programs have also gone beyond Metro Manila, to include Visayas and Mindanao.
I look forward to yet another successful Global Community Day with Citi Philippines and to the further development of our strong partnership.
Bayan Academy and Citi Foundation partners to help micro-entrepreneurs upgrade their business potentials
Remember the timeless adage, “Behind the success of a man is a woman?” In the case of Rosemarie Eroles and Catherine del Monte, it was the other way around. Rosemarie’s husband Alex and Catherine’s husband Richard, have always been the ever-supportive partner to these aspiring businesswomen.
For 10 years, Rosemarie and Alex have been at the helm of a 12-year-old enterprise selling native handicrafts, which in turn is helping plain housewives and young women in Lucban, Quezon who weave buri and pandan leaves into fashionable bags. Their business Marilex Handicrafts was the offshoot of Rosemarie’s training with Bayan Academy’s Citi-Bayan Entrep Eskwela program, where she was part of Batch 3 in 2012.
On the Del Monte couple’s side, their one-stop cellphone repair and accessories shop in Sta. Lucia mall bloomed through the years that their business now occupies an entire block in the mall’s floor and they have even expanded into various cellphone-related businesses. They started in just a small corner a few years ago with people discouraging them to get that small area as it is not usually noticed by mall goers, but through their persistence and hard-work, their efforts paid off.
“I have been selling bags and handicrafts made from buri and pandan, which I learned from my parents who have been doing it since 1978,” explains Rosemarie while in her shop at a mall in Quezon City. “But when I attended the classes at Bayan Academy, I got to learn more about improving and marketing the products. I learned that I could turn the bayong, which is usually something you would only bring to the market, into something fashionable and classy.”
She then put up Marilex Handicrafts, an offshoot of their husband-and-wife business Eroles Collections, which turns the woven bags that they buy from their hometown in Lucban into artsy accessories in their house in Luzon Avenue. From selling their products in bazaars and tiangges, people started noticing the quality and style of their bayongs which paved the way for them to supply for the likes of SM and The House of Tesoro. She proudly says that they have become a hit with balikbayans who buy many pieces and in turn, become “exporters” of her products.
However, this has not stopped her from pursuing other things. Now, she is also selling ladies’ accessories like bracelets, necklaces and earrings; and homemade food like yema cake, Lucban longganisa, and pancit habhab from her hometown. These items now help augment income to the already thriving sales of her bags. She has also been a regular fixture in community bazaars, tiangges and trade shows. In short, the once plain housewife is now a full-time businesswoman.
“When we started, we were the only one who does repairs and service for cellphones. We started really small but we saw the opportunity to provide cellphone accessories and sell more units. Customers came in because we were a one-stop shop for all their cellphone needs. Soon, we were being emulated by other tenants in the mall,” says Richard. ”With the income we have set aside, we expanded our space and got other spaces too so that we can reach out to more customers.”
The Del Monte couple are unfazed with the competition. In fact, they relish it as they discover more opportunities for income-generating activities. “Right now, we have opened a pawnshop for gadgets… as we found this another good venture as people are sometimes in need of immediate cash. We also opened a printer repair shop so if the cellphone business takes a backseat, then there is another business to turn back to.”
Rosemarie and Catherine credit a lot of their training from the Citi-Bayan Entrep-Eskwela in honing further their entrepreneurial skills, with how they manage their people and the financial side of the business.
“The most important business technique I learned from [the classes] is to avoid taking the profits from the business into buying things that are usually ‘luho’. I admit that it was really tempting in the beginning to buy things that would make us feel good. But now, we take into consideration first what we would do with the profit. We decided to save while rotating the capital to other businesses,” says Rosemarie. Catherine wholeheartedly agree, adding that “income from business should be used to expand the business, not to buy items that are not necessities for everyday living. Capital should also not be touched for personal purposes.”
Since 2006, Bayan Academy’s flagship Entrep-Eskwela Program, also known as Grassroots Entrepreneurship and Management (GEM) Program, had a total of 21 program licensees. These licensees are now implementing GEM in their own organizations through 426 accredited trainers who have undergone training for this purpose.
“The reach of this program is estimated to be 500,000 micro-entrepreneurs who will now be able to bring their enterprises to a higher level,” says Dr. Eduardo Morato, Bayan Academy President. “This is real nation-building at its finest as these successful micro-entrepreneurs will uplift not only the lives of their family but also their community or even back to their hometowns.”
With support from Citi Foundation, the CSR arm of Citibank Philippines, the Citi-Bayan Entrep-Eskwela Program was launched. It is part of the “Citi Microenterprise Development Center (CMDC)” Project, which supported the establishment of a center that will cater to training 200 high-potential microfinance clients. Composed of more than 100 modules, the program assists participants in learning the various facets of enterprise management, including a self-mastery module.
Manila – Citi Microenterprise Development Center (CMDC) recently opened its doors to a new batch of student-microentrepreneurs, signaling Year 4 of a very successful partnership between Citi Philippines and Bayan Academy for Social Entrepreneurship and Human Resource Development, Inc.
Funded by Citi Foundation, CMDC was established to promote entrepreneurship among low-income microfinance clients, giving them the opportunity to receive quality training and customized coaching and business advisory from a pool of subject matter experts that include Citi employees.
After a successful pilot to over 100 microfinance clients in 2010, CMDC was formally launched the year after and it has since nurtured nearly 1,300 high potential microentrepreneurs. This year, CMDC hopes to reach out to another 870 microentrepreneurs across Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
According to the Department of Trade and Industry, the Philippines has a large microenterprise sector that accounts for 89% of all registered businesses. However, most of these businesses fail to grow to become small- or medium-sized enterprises primarily due to the lack of critical skills by the entrepreneur.
Through CMDC, Citi and Bayan Academy seek to address this skills gap and empower entrepreneurs to grow and sustain their micro businesses, and eventually scale it up to the next tier.
Citi Philippines CEO Batara Sianturi spoke at the ceremonial launch, and challenged the students to grab the most of the learning opportunity. “We are investing in you because we see your potential to grow. Your continued success will mean a better quality of life not only for you and your family, but also for your community and eventually for this country.”
Attesting to this statement was Bienvenido Manglo, a CMDC graduate from 2011 and proprietor of Bensley Marketing that distributes a wide range of Philippine made products, from bags to handcrafted decors to souvenir items.
“At first, I was really hesitant to complete the course because it will take me away from my business for 9 days. I thought that’s a lot of potential sales loss, and I felt I already knew what I needed to know to run a business. They proved me wrong from the first day of lectures,” Manglo recalled. “Instead, all the lectures helped me understand the core of business management. More than that, I was able to acquire and apply the essential skills in growing my own enterprise. Until today, I still look back at my notes whenever I have questions that need answers.”
Armed with passion, dedication, and knowledge earned from CMDC’s courses, Manglo was groomed to become one of the most successful microentrepreneurs in the country. His monthly income has risen by 80%, while his assets grew by 54%.
“Education is our gift to these people who later becomes our contribution to society as they create value to their enterprises and generate jobs for others,” said Dr. Eduardo A. Morato, Jr., Chairman and President of Bayan Academy.
The CMDC offers participants a two-week course on Grassroots Entrepreneurship and Management (GEM) that covers entrepreneurship, including topics on self-mastery, personal finance, marketing, operations, human resources, and finance. The center is also home to the Citi Small Business Advisory and Coaching Services (Citi SBACS), a business clinic and advisory service that gives microentrepreneurs access to experts, including professors, practitioners, and Citi volunteers who provide coaching and mentoring services on specific business topics.
Citi continues tradition of coaching microbusiness owners at the Citi Microenterprise Development Center
Bayan Academy and Citi Philippines once again teamed up for several weekends in May and June to reach out to the students and alumni of the Citi Microenterprise Development Center (CMDC).
Starting May 17 through June 7, volunteers from Citi Philippines served as mentors on various subjects to micro business owners as part of the 9th Global Community Day (GCD), an annual day of service where employees go out and give back to the communities where they live and work.
“Global Community Day is a unique opportunity for all of us in Citi to convey a simple yet powerful message — through volunteerism, Citi employees are committed to making a positive impact in the local community globally,” said Citi Philippines CEO Batara Sianturi.
“For the Philippines, GCD is actually a misnomer,” Sianturi went on to say, “because we celebrate this milestone across several weekends to give our employees many opportunities to serve again and again.”
Indeed, this year, 17 activities were spread across five weeks and a total of 3,507 volunteers participated in various activities such as tree-planting, ocean cleanup, and building homes for Typhoon Yolanda survivors.
Out of this number, over 40 Citi employees imparted their expertise on various subject matters at the CMDC.
The partnership between Citi and Bayan Academy go as far back as 2005, when they joined hands to work on a financial program for working mothers. Since then, funding from the Citi Foundation has helped Bayan train over 1,300 high-potential microfinance clients so that they could bring their microenterprises to the next level.
Over four weekends starting mid-May, the volunteers played mentor and coach to 38 eager participants who received free lectures on matters that face them daily in the course of running their businesses.
On May 17, Citi volunteers arrived armed with advice regarding customer service and acquisition. They addressed the participants’ queries on handling customer complaints, maintaining an open dialogue with customers, and delivering personalized service.
On May 24, the volunteers shared the value of personal finance and managing one’s money. The microfinance clients wanted to know how to get their spending and debt under control, which investment tools are good for novices, and how to ensure a sustainable business.
On May 31 and June 7, the legal team from Citi conducted pro-bono legal clinics to the microentrepreneurs. On the first day, they tackled taxation, supplier contracts, and protective regulations. On the next weekend, they addressed issues regarding trademarks and patents.
Billie Adelman, a Citi volunteer who served during the personal finance session, opined that the learning that transpired across the activities was a two-way street. “Participating was a great opportunity for me to learn,” she said. “CMDC is an impressive facility, but the highlight for me was the coaching session with the microentrepreneurs,” she continued, pertaining to the one-on-one dialogue between mentor and trainee after the presentations. “I was impressed and humbled by their motivation and dedication, their commitment to their business despite some hardships and set-backs. I hope that my little contribution made a difference to someone’s life.”
Raul Manikan, executive director of Bayan Academy, said in a speech during an event to toast Citi’s NGO partners held prior to GCD that “It is a grace to be able to do something to redress social imbalances by way of helping people improve the skills they possess.” Citi volunteers should be proud to have been able to directly impact a person’s livelihood at CMDC, and the microbusiness owners can count on them in the coming years to continue the mentoring tradition.