Citi Philippines and Bayan Academy mark three years of nurturing high-potential micro business owners

Citi Microenterprise Development Center (CMDC), a program of Citi Philippines and Bayan Academy for Social Entrepreneurship and Human Resource Development, Inc., recently celebrated its third year of nurturing high potential micro business owners at the CMDC training center in Quezon City.

Citi Philippines CEO Batara Sianturi and Bayan Academy executive director Raul Manikan led the launch of the 3rd year of the Citi Microenterprise Development Center in Quezon City.

Citi Philippines CEO Batara Sianturi and Bayan Academy executive director Raul Manikan led the launch of the 3rd year of the Citi Microenterprise Development Center in Quezon City.

Since 2011, CMDC has been providing training, coaching and business advisory services to more than 660 microfinance clients around the country, opening more doors for entrepreneurship in the microfinance sector.  Funded by Citi Foundation, the program seeks to address knowledge and skills gaps to enable its participants to grow their businesses, resulting in asset and income growth, as well as job generation for their local communities.


On the celebration of CMDC’s third year, Bayan Academy Executive Director Raul Manikan expressed his joy on the continuing success of the program: “We are glad that this program which started in Metro Manila has now spread to all over the country, helping microentrepreneurs scale up and take their businesses to the next level. I am amazed at how far we have come in our shared advocacy with Citi in promoting not only microfinance but also enterprise development.”


In August, CMDC received the Social Empowerment Award during the 2013 Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Awards (AREA) held in Singapore.  AREA is one of Asia’s most prestigious recognition programs for organizations that champion sustainable and responsible entrepreneurship. The Social Empowerment award honors businesses that promote empowerment of communities or individuals that are socially excluded or economically disadvantaged. CMDC received the award for the impact it makes on microfinance clients towards improving and scaling-up their businesses, and was a timely and unequivocal confirmation of the relevance of what Bayan Academy is doing together with Citi Foundation and Citi Philippines.


Addressing the first batch of scholars for CMDC’s third year, Citi Philippines CEO Batara Sianturi made a strong case for entrepreneurship.  “Entrepreneurship is what drives economic progress.  It is what makes economies prosper through innovation and wealth creation. If we look at first world nations like the United Kingdom and the United States, they were built on entrepreneurs who sparked the first industrial revolution.  Close to home, if we look around, the most successful people in this country are also entrepreneurs like Henry Sy who started selling shoes in a small store that eventually become SM, a retail chain that now impacts the economies of local communities.”


“Our goal in CMDC is to equip you with knowledge and skills that helped these successful individuals grow their businesses from very small and humble beginnings.  Some of them did not have much capital to start with; sometimes not even a college education, but they had the drive, passion, and ability.  Through CMDC, we can all become partners for your success,” said Sianturi.


High potential micro business owners receive entrepreneurship training as well as customized coaching and business advisory at CMDC.

High potential micro business owners receive entrepreneurship training as well as customized coaching and business advisory at CMDC.

During the event, CMDC hosted its first batch of 40 scholars for the Grassroots Entrepreneurship and Management course, an entrepreneurship course designed for micro business owners.  Participants included clients of several microfinance institutions such as Kasagana-Ka Development Center, Inc., Kabalikat para sa Maunlad na Buhay Inc., Center for Community Transformation, Uplift Philippines, and Bayan Academy.  Some participants of the CMDC also showcased their products to demonstrate how the program has succeeded in aiding them develop their products and grow their businesses.


Two successful microentrepreneurs – Alvin Abaja and Rona Bautista – gave testimonials during the celebration. Alvin, the owner of Buchi King, started with only four employees and now employs 21 workers as his innovative product attracted more and more patrons. Rona, on the other hand owns Luce Global Environmental Health and Safety Specialist Inc, a trading company that grew from a small enterprise into a corporation that now supplies safety gloves, shoes, helmets to companies big industries.


Through the likes of Alvin and Rona, and the many aspiring microentrepreneurs it has helped, CMDC continues to enable and uplift the skills of these individuals so they can improve their lot in life and help others through the jobs they generate.

Citi Philippines CEO Batara Sianturi (3rd from left) and Corporate Affairs Director Aneth Lim (rightmost) join (from left) Bayan Academy executive director Raul Manikan in congratulating Luce Global Environmental Health & Safety Specialist Inc.’s Rona Bautista and Buchi King’s Alvin Abaja and Christian Caparas, two micro businesses that have considerably grown their assets and income following their participation in CMDC.

Citi Philippines CEO Batara Sianturi (3rd from left) and Corporate Affairs Director Aneth Lim (rightmost) join (from left) Bayan Academy executive director Raul Manikan in congratulating Luce Global Environmental Health & Safety Specialist Inc.’s Rona Bautista and Buchi King’s Alvin Abaja and Christian Caparas, two micro businesses that have considerably grown their assets and income following their participation in CMDC.



Citi Microenterprise Development Center was cited for Social Empowerment in 2013 Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Awards

The Citi Microenterprise Development Center, a three yearold training and coaching program for high potential microentrepreneurs, was adjudged the winner for the Social Empowerment category during the 2013 Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Awards (AREA) held in Singapore.

Funded by Citi Foundation, and jointly implemented by Bayan Academy for Social Entrepreneurship and Human Resource Development Inc. and Citi Philippines, the organizers lauded these institutions for their contribution and commitment towards developing relevant and sustainable microenterprise development programs in the country.
The Citi Microenterprise Development Center or CMDC promotes entrepreneurship among the low-income population by providing high potential microfinance clients the opportunity to receive quality training and customized coaching and business advisory. Established in 2011 after a successful pilot in 2010, the program works with hundreds of high potential microfinance clients each year in order to increase their income, employ additional people, and improve on their loan performance.

“We are pleased to receive this award on behalf of the men and women that have participated in CMDC and have since taken their new learnings to improve their businesses, their lives as well as make a positive impact to their communities.  Citi as a global institution is strongly committed to financial inclusion, and to increasing the financial capability of the poorest of the poor and helping them build their assets and escape poverty.  Our goal is to empower individuals to improve their lives by supporting innovative programs in microfinance and enterprise development that show impact and results,” said Citi Country Officer for the Philippines Batara Sianturi.
AREA is one of Asia’s most prestigious recognition programs for organizations that champion sustainable and responsible entrepreneurship.  The Social Empowerment awards honor businesses that promote empowerment of communities or individuals that are socially excluded or economically disadvantaged.  CMDC received the award for the impact it makes on microfinance clients towards improving and scaling-up their businesses.

Citi Country Officer for the Philippines Batara Sianturi and Bayan Academy president Raul Manikan with their awards won from the 2013 Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Awards.

Raul Manikan, president of Bayan Academy said: “It is a timely and unequivocal confirmation of the relevance of what we are doing together with Citi Foundation and Citi Philippines for the community.  We are greatly honored to receive this award.”
Microfinance clients who join CMDC will need to show clear results that include higher income, job creation and improved loan performance.  This is achieved by offering participants a two-week course on Grass Roots Entrepreneurship Management as well as one-on-one mentoring and coaching sessions through the Citi Small Business Advisory and Coaching Sessions (SBACS) program.  The Citi SBACS is also a venue for skills-based volunteerism where Citi employees actively contribute their talents and skills towards helping participants in aspects related to law, finance, marketing, operations, and human resources.  To date, more than 850 individuals have enrolled in CMDC’s training programs and/or received business coaching.
In winning the award, CMDC went through an independent site audit conducted by Enterprise Asia, Inc., the organization that organizes AREA.  Citi’s nomination was also vetted by an independent panel of judges that consist of leading businessmen, non-profit leaders, and retired government officials from across the Asian region.

Sianturi added, “Citi has been in the Philippines for 111 years, and since the days we opened shop here in the country, we have always looked to making an impact in not just the nation’s economy, but in local grass roots communities.  We are very pleased to receive this regional recognition for the work that we are doing on the ground, and it is an affirmation that the Citi Microenterprise Development Center is indeed one way where Citi is promoting inclusive economic growth in this country.”


Citi Volunteers share expertise and mentor microentrepreneurs

Citi employees marked their 8th Global Community Day with Bayan Academy, engaging in skills-based volunteerism at the Citi Microenterprise Development Center.


Citi volunteers in the Philippines showcased the bayanihan spirit anew as they celebrated Global Community Day (GCD) along with colleagues from 95 countries.  Now on its 8th year, GCD is an annual opportunity for Citi employees, along with their families and friends, to come together as a global volunteer team. Tens of thousands of Citi employees participate each year, showcasing the company’s commitment to supporting and improving communities.


This year, over 65,000 Citi volunteers across the world served more than 14,200 meals to the hungry, built 240 houses, and revitalized more than 200 parks, beaches and green spaces.   As many as 6,000 Citi employees also provided skills-based advice to various communities through mentorships, coaching, and training workshops.



In the Philippines, Citi teamed up with several non-profit partners including Bayan Academy, and together created opportunities for mentoring of high potential microentrepreneurs at the Citi Microenterprise Development Center Program (CMDC).  The CMDC is a Citi Foundation-funded program that trains high potential microfinance clients to scale their businesses through entrepreneurship training and personalized business coaching.


Citi Country Counsel Pia Lacson leads Citi lawyers during the legal clinic held at the Citi Microenterprise Development Center

Over four weekends in June, a total of 26 Citi volunteers served as teachers and facilitators in the CMDC’s Small Business Advisory and Coaching Sessions Program, providing skills-based volunteerism to 41 high potential microentrepreneurs in areas covering microenterprise law, marketing, finance, human resources and operations.


Citi Country Officer for the Philippines Batara Sianturi said, “Global Community Day is a Citi tradition that highlights our deep commitment to the community.  By working with Bayan Academy, we were able to continue this practice by contributing our skills as bankers towards promoting the development of Philippine microenterprise.  I am very proud that our employees were able to make an impact on the lives of Filipino microentrepreneurs, proving that Citi Microenterprise Development Center and our partnership with Bayan Academy truly transcends checkbook philanthropy. ”


On June 1, Citi Country Counsel Pia Lacson opened Global Community Day by leading a group of Citi lawyers in discussing with CMDC participants business registration, labor issues, lease agreements, trademarks, and applicable microenterprise laws.   This legal clinic was followed by a similar session on June 8 with Citi Business Training Manager Carrie Megino guiding volunteers and beneficiaries in a session on marketing strategies and customer service.   On June 15, Citi Systems Control Group Head Cel Tungol led Citi employees in offering sessions on human resources and operations.  The month-long GCD celebration was capped off on June 22, with Citi Treasury Vice President Noel Balao leading Citi volunteers in teaching the basics of finance and accounting.


The sessions were a success as the microentrepreneurs attested to the knowledge and impact of Citi volunteers. “The sessions are very informative.  The volunteers were very accommodating and we learned so much.” shared Milagros Hiyas, a participant in the session covering marketing principles.  Ismael Adiaton, a microentrepreneur who attended the legal clinic said that he always looks forward to learning from Citi volunteers. “Citi volunteers make us aware of certain issues that are applicable to us, and they also give good advice on the problems we face.  I appreciate that they also offered to make themselves available after this session.”


Citi Business Training Manager Carrie Megino offers Marketing and Customer Service advice with Roger Calfoforo

Volunteerism is a central part of the Citi employee experience, with Citi volunteers regularly engaging in community service year-round in order to meet the needs of local community such as literacy and education, housing, environmental stewardship, health and human services, and disaster relief.  For 2013 Global Community Day, Citi focused on offering employees skills-based volunteer opportunities to harness the knowledge and talent available at one of the world’s leading financial institutions.


Citi Philippines was highlighted along with four other markets for the skills-based volunteering conducted with Bayan Academy.

Nurturing successful microentrepreneurs at Citi Microenterprise Development Center

Every Filipino entrepreneur aspires for success – but the road is not always easy. How does one get the ample funding, right skills, and an effective network? Faced with these challenges, not everyone is able to turn their dream of owning their own business into reality.
Enter Bayan Academy, an organization established in 1997 which has since been spearheading a movement for building this nation from below. The organization is anchored on promoting change through the three E’s – Entrepreneurship, Education and Employment.
In 2007, Bayan Academy launched its flagship Entrep-Eskwela Program, also known as Grassroots Entrepreneurship and Management (GEM) Program, to assist participants in learning the various facets of enterprise management.
With the support of the Citi Foundation in 2010, the GEM program was customized to better serve low-income microentrepreneurs. Then known as Citi-Bayan Entrep-Eskwela, the program initially trained close to 200 microentrepreneurs. Buoyed by the successful results of this initial batch, Citi established the Citi Microenterprise Development Center (CMDC), a center of entrepreneurship that caters to the needs of various microentrepreneurs across the country. CMDC goes beyond classroom training by offering the Citi Small Business Advisory and Coaching Services (SBACS), where microentrepreneurs and students receive personalized coaching and mentoring sessions from experts in marketing, finance, human resources, operations, regulatory (requirements and applicable laws), and technical services.
“With the CMDC, the Citi Foundation is helping us build the nation from below. The CMDC has reached out to small and medium entrepreneurs — the ones who have the power to revitalize the economy and help those who are ‘below’ the economic strata. Through the various programs and trainings at the CMDC, the beneficiaries were given the opportunity to be guided and exposed to best practices that they in turn can implement in their own businesses,” said Dr. Eduardo Morato, chairman of Bayan Academy. “With their success, they are able to help their families, uplift their communities, and achieve their dreams of a better life.”
“We share Bayan Academy’s vision of democratizing entrepreneurship education for the poor. Citi Philippines in partnership with Citi Foundation is committed to create more wealth and opportunities in this country among low-income communities through entrepreneurship. CMDC is one of our many initiatives, and we are pleased to have opened doors for nearly 500 microentrepreneurs over the last three years,” related Aneth Ng-Lim, Corporate Affairs Director for Citi Philippines.
Since the launch of CMDC program last November 2011, the center has witnessed inspiring stories of Filipinos who have successfully used entrepreneurship as a tool to improve their lives and help the community.
Being Your Own Boss Makes Sense
One of these entrepreneurs is 38-year-old Fidel Seño of Baclaran, Parañaque, who has lived most of his life in a wet market.
“I started my own business in the markets of Baclaran after I got retrenched from my job as a machine operator in a plastics factory during the Asian crisis of 1997,” he shared. “I realized that being your own boss makes sense, so I started my own business using the very little money I received as separation pay.”
Fidel opened a meat shop, where he initially served as the butcher. Later on, as money came in, he got involved in other business activities. “I made profit from my businesses but I did not earn from them; money was always slipping out of my fingers even if I worked almost 24 hours a day.”
Fidel was recommended to take the training program offered at CMDC. He was at first skeptical as it will take him away from his business which meant losing profits, but was surprised that the days he spent attending the workshop proved to be life-changing. “I learned a lot from our trainers. I found out that managing your own business is not as easy as it seems. One needs to instill discipline in yourself and your employees and learn how to properly designate work to people,” he said.
Some of the changes he implemented affected his relatives whom he employed in the business. In particular, he applied lessons learned from CMDC’s training program on financial literacy. “I told them to value their work and their salary. I reprimanded them for not having the compassion to help the business prosper and for using their hard-earned salary to buy expensive gadgets or branded clothes that are mostly of decorative value.” Some of them did not take this lightly and quit, but most of his relatives heeded his advice. “I told them how important it is to budget expenses, from the house to the merchandise they are selling, even their salaries.” He extended this discipline to his wife and kids, and taught them how to save.

Mr. Seño being a hands on entrepreneur as he helps sell his meat products.

Today, Fidel still maintains his meat shop, but he also takes care of his wholesale grocery business and sub-dealership of meat products from a well-known company. “It is still not an easy road that I am treading, but at least I have the tools and the confidence to pursue the goals I want to reach, thanks to CMDC.
To date, Fidel has 14 employees. His enterprise’s assets have grown by 35% since he enrolled in the course.
In the Ministry of Good Business
If there is one thing Pastor Bienvenido Manglo has learned, it’s that being a good entrepreneur does not necessarily mean having to create your own products.
“The idea of becoming a retailer dawned on me when I attended courses at CMDC. I discovered the possibility of creating a market for products being made by other people,” he revealed.
A native of Batangas, Pastor Bienvenido is a 51-year old engineering graduate who now resides in Biñan, Laguna. He used to support his family by selling load for prepaid phones, raising livestock and soap-making. His strong faith as a pastor has helped him weather various challenges as an entrepreneur. “Sometimes I am baffled why I try all these businesses when I don’t even get much return,” he confessed.
Struggling to achieve his business goals, Pastor Bienvenido was referred to CMDC by the microfinance institution Center for Community Transformation (CCT). He was hesitant at the beginning. “I was already doing my ministry in my church, so I wondered what good would I get from it,” he shared. The experience proved to be worth it. “I met all these wonderful entrepreneurs who made very good products but did not know where to sell them. One made eco-friendly bags made from natural fibers like rattan and abaca, while another made compressed smokeless charcoal. I found my true purpose, which is to help them find their market. I became their marketing manager.”
Pastor Bienvenido contacted his former classmates at CMDC and bought some of their products, which he sold to outlets like supermarkets and department stores. In a few months, wholesalers and retailers came to him for more orders. He now also sells handicrafts like table ornaments, wallets, displays and other items. He also helps other aspiring entrepreneurs at the CCT, as a trainer and inspirational speaker. “I have learned in this life that if you let God be your guide, he will take care of the rest. You just have to do your best,” he shared.
From two employees in January 2011, Pastor Bienvenido now employs 12 workers. His monthly income rose by 80%, while his assets grew by 54%.

Mr. Bienvenido Manglo showcases his products during an exhibit at SM Megamall.

Weaving the Fabric of Success
In Corazon Bautista’s house in Taytay, Rizal, all kinds of made ready-to-wear (RTW) clothes abound in one corner. “They are actually for delivery tomorrow,” the 42-year-old housewife explained as she sorted them out. What many people do not know is that her house used to be a makeshift structure just a year ago, without concrete flooring. Thanks to her determined spirit and the training she received from CMDC, she now earns a comfortable living making short pants, t-shirts and office wear. She also provides income and employment for people in her community.
Her situation was different only a few years ago. “I just relied on the earnings of my husband who is a painter for a subcontracting company. I was a plain dressmaker who used to do jobs for others,” she recalled. “I only got inspired to open my own business after my own employer became successful.”
A mother of two boys, this native of Albay came to know about micro-lending after she saw a few neighbors, mostly ladies of her age, converging under a tree for prayer meetings. She was eventually invited to join the group and discovered that it not only involved prayers, but also micro-lending for startup businesses. “Admittedly, I did not want to join because I didn’t want to incur debt,” she said. But when she realized that securing a loan could pave the way to start her own garments business, she approached Tulay sa Pag-unlad Inc. (TSPI), a micro-lending institution, to finance the purchase of two sewing machines on a rent-to-own basis.
Armed with a strong determination to succeed, she began selling RTW ladies and children’s shorts in the Pasig market. It did not take her long to sell her items: one wholesaler passed by and examined her products. She got the surprise of her life when the wholesaler purchased her entire inventory.
In 2011, Corazon was nominated by TSPI for the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards. She won and bested over 100 nominations from across the country. As part of her prize, the Citi Foundation sponsored her training at CMDC.
It was at CMDC that Corazon learned how to run a micro-enterprise and take care of her finances. “I learned to be realistic when it comes to dealing with others, to be aggressive and competitive,” she said. Now, she has about 25 employees. Corazon was also able to buy her own sewing machines, both for her in-house and outsourced workers.
Her newly renovated house includes a second floor, where her in-house employees, mostly people who asked her for a job, sew and cut a target number of RTW shorts set to be delivered in the next two days. “The good thing is that many of my employees earn a living from my own business. Through this business, my dreams for my family are slowly being fulfilled too,” Corazon said.
Impressively, her asset base recorded before the start of enrolling in CMDC increased by 150%. “I am very grateful to Citi and CMDC not only for teaching me how to maximize the potentials of my business but also for inspiring me to become a better entrepreneur. I would not have fulfilled my dreams without their support.”

Citi Microenterprise Development Center Foundation’s COO Brandee McHale visits Bayan Academy’s Citi Microenterprise Development Center

Citi Foundation’s Chief Operating Officer Brandee McHale was in the Philippines recently to visit Bayan Academy’s Citi Microenterprise Development Center (CMDC) where she came to witness a Grassroots Entrepreneurship Management (GEM) Program lecture. It was her first time in the Philippines and she was excited to impart some words of wisdom to a group of beneficiaries who are now creating a difference in their communities by becoming competent and successful entrepreneurs.


“Your business, no matter how big or small it is, radiates to the world economy. Because of technology, we are all interconnected. That’s why I also commend the launching of a website that will impart useful tools to your business that can be accessed any time of the day,” she said. Ms. McHale also mentioned that she comes from a family of entrepreneurs and she knows the challenges faced on a day-to-day basis. “That is why it is important to persevere and know that there are resources and mentors out there, like here at CMDC, that can help you overcome your business challenges.”


On the same occasion, Dr. Eduardo Morato, Chairman of Bayan Academy, together with Raul Manikan, President, also formally unveiled the CMDC’s website, which can be accessed at The website contains various online mentoring programs which will extend the classroom experience and will become an interactive venue for students and mentors to exchange ideas and solve problems.


The CMDC is a partnership endeavor of Bayan Academy and Citi Foundation. It seeks to address various issues by providing a venue where entrepreneurial Filipinos can learn management and receive constant mentorship and advice from professionals. The center, located at Bayan Academy in Quezon City, has so far trained a total of 310 micro entrepreneurs engaged in a wide array of industries, from trading to manufacturing; from retailing to servicing.


On a global scale, Citi Foundation is committed to economic empowerment and to help create vibrant communities. It believes in providing a hand up instead of a handout and this program is in line with its goal of designing sustainable ways of lending assistance.

Brandee McHale (3rd from left), COO of Citi Foundation and Dr. Eduardo Morato (3rd from right), Chairman of Bayan Academy, is shown here with colleagues from Citi and Bayan Academy including (from left) Kevin Goco, Jasmine Thomas, Rajitha Vinnakota and Raul Manikan.

Citi Microenterprise Development Center launched in the Philippines

Citi marks milestone in partnership with Bayan Academy.

Citi Philippines reaffirms its commitment to microenterprise development as it formally opened the Citi Microenterprise Development Center (CMDC) in Quezon City this October. Funded by the Citi Foundation, CMDC is collaboration between  Citi and long-time community partner Bayan Academy. It will serve as a venue for training, mentoring and providing consultancyservices to high potential micro entrepreneurs. Country corporate affairs director Aneth Lim led the ribbon-cutting ceremony with Bayan Academy Chairman Dr. Eduardo Morato, Jr., and President Raul Manikan. Continue reading

Promoting microentrepreneurs development in the Philippines through the Citi-Bayan Entrep-Eskwela Program

By Philip S. Felipe

In October 2010, Citibank and Bayan Academy partnered to form the Citibank Bayan Entrep Eskwela program with a shared vision of transforming Filipino micro-entrepreneurs into business people who initiate change in their own lives, offer value-added products and services to the community and contribute to the country’s overall wealth. The program, supported by Citi Foundation, aims to train at least 100 micro borrowers from ABS-CBN Bayan Foundation and other clients of microfinance institutions in the Philippines. It also serves as a training program for the winners of the Citi Micro Entrepreneurs of the Year (MOTY) to enhance their entrepreneurial skills and competencies. Continue reading