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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. The MOTY is Citibank’s annual recognition of top micro entrepreneurs in the country, implemented in partnership with the  Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc. and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. The award program was launch in 2002 in celebration of Citi’s centennial year in the Philippines.

The Entrep-Eskwela Program is Bayan Academy’s core initiative in honing the entrepreneurial skills of micro entrepreneurs in the country. Dr. Eduardo A. Morato, the Chairman of Bayan Academy, saw the need for enterprise development as a way of uplifting the lives of many clients of microfinance institutions. The Entrep-Eskwela program is a nine-day training on self mastery, situation mastery and enterprise mastery.
The Citibank-Bayan Entrep-Eskwela Program is an innovation of the original Entrep-Eskwela Program. It contains advanced teachings in Customer Profiling and Finance and also incorporates mentoring and coaching in various sessions. The program also serves as a venue where many micro entrepreneurs can meet and share their own successes and challenges.
The culminating ceremony for the first batch of graduates was held on November 4, 2010, and was attended by 52 clients from ABS-CBN Bayan Foundation. On January 28, 2011, the second batch of micro entrepreneurs finished their nine-day training on entrepreneurship and management program at Bayan Academy. The nine-day program  was attended by a total of 52 clients, which included 13 clients from ABS-CBN Bayan Foundation, 18 clients from Center for Community Transformation, five clients from Alay Buhay Community Development Foundation, and 16 semi-finalists, special awardees, and national winners of MOTY.
Citibank Director for Corporate Affairs Ms. Aneth Lim, who graced the closing program, emphasized the direction where Citibank’s corporate social responsibility is headed. In her closing remarks during Batch 1’s graduation rites, she mentioned that “Citibank together with Citi Foundation has been initiating relevant programs and teaming up with strategic community partners to effect positive change in the microfinance industry.  One of the outcomes we are looking for is to make micro businesses more pro-active, market sensitive and sustainable.
Furthermore, the Citibank-Bayan Entrep-Eskwela Program is not just about training the beneficiaries but more importantly, it gives equal importance in monitoring the impact that was made to the entrepreneurs, their families, and their respective enterprises. Half of the participants will  be randomly selected to gauge their progress in terms of loan performance (through the clients’ loan size, loan cycle, and repayment rate) and enterprise performance (measured by their asset size, monthly gross revenue, and number of employees). Through the help of their microfinance institutions, the net worth of their businesses before and after the training will be compared.
Initial results from the first batch of participants who were monitored three months after the Entrep-Eskwela showed promising results. From the average loan cycle of 8 at P 129,231 in November 2010, they are now at an average of 9 cycles at P 143,889 in April 2011. Repayment rate of their current loans remains at an impressive 100%. The common reason for acquiring loans is for investment in their inventories and for sustaining their working capital. At this point, the monitoring process for the second batch of participants is ongoing. It is expected that the same positive result will be generated.
This is the third joint venture of Citibank and Bayan Academy since 2004. Initially, the partnership developed and implemented Values Training and Micro Enterprise Development Program in 2004 and 2008, respectively. The Citibank-Bayan Entrep-Eskwela program is a first step towards a long-term partnership where  innovative developmental interventions between Citibank and Bayan Academy can be achieved.
Aside from enhancing entrepreneurship and management courses that are existing in the country, it is expected that the partnership will reach more and more micro entrepreneur clients of microfinance institutions, cooperatives and other rural banks across the country. Bayan Academy will continue to develop learning materials and technologies to help other institutions advocate entrepreneurship within their respective organizations.