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When Bankers Turn Mentors

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).

 

Citi Corporate Affairs Director Aneth Lim addresses eager participants during the personal finance session.

Citi Corporate Affairs Director Aneth Lim addresses eager participants during the personal finance session.

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.

 

Citi counsels spent two mornings educating microbusiness owners on the laws that apply to their enterprises.

Citi counsels spent two mornings educating microbusiness owners on the laws that apply to their enterprises.

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.

 

A Citi volunteer shares tips on how to attract more customers with CMDC trainees.

A Citi volunteer shares tips on how to attract more customers with CMDC trainees.

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.