Friday, 15 June 2007

Microfinance systems in the Philippines

This October 2006 country study of microfinance in the Philippines was conducted by Ma. Piedad S. Geron in the context of MICRONED, an alliance of ICCO, Hivos, CORDAID and Oxfam/Novib around microfinance activities.

The study is structured in the following way: Chapter 1: The Philippines: general overview, geographical, economic growth, population and employment, poverty situation; Chapter 2: The Philippine financial system, types of financial institutions; Chapter 3: The Philippine microfinance sector, about the microfinance policy environment, the demand and supply of microfinance services, donor support to the microfinance sector, priority needs and support gap to the MFIs ; Chapter 4: Meso-level support to microfinance, about the meso level supporters, needs and support gaps at the sector level; Chapter 5: Conclusion and recommendations, regarding three types of support: to clients of microfinance services, to the MFI sector, to networks, associations and federations

Table 3 in Section 3.1 presents some key policy measures on microfinance taken in the Philippines:

In Section 3.2 (Demand and supply of microfinance services) it is stated that demand not always matches supply. Most microfinance service suppliers prefer to provide services to those already engaged in some form of entrepreneurial activity. So many poor do not have access to microfinance. Very few MFIs provide start up funds for clients. Women comprise more than three fourths of the clients of microfinance institutions in the Philippines.

The study gives information on the three major types of institutions involved in microfinance in the Philippines: microfinance NGOs, cooperatives, and banks (rural and thrift banks). It presents their activities, total loan portfolio and number of clients. It also provides some judgement on their maturity and quality of operations. In the Philippines NGOs serve the highest number of clients and have the largest portfolio.

In Section 3.3 (Donor support to the microfinance sector) Official Development Assistance for microfinance is addressed and the portfolio of Dutch institutions in microfinance in the Philippines is presented, including amounts invested by Cordaid, ICCO, OxfamNovib, Rabobank Foundation, FMO, Oikocredit, and DOEN Foundation in 2002-2005.

In Section 3.4 (Priority needs and support gap to the MFIs) the kind of current donor support is summarised and gaps for future support are identified:
  • Assistance in developing new products that meet the changing demands of current and prospective clients;
  • Using technology based systems (e.g. use of cellphone based technology in payments and use of Personal Digital Assistant in recording loan payments) in lending operations;
  • Development of savings products appropriate to the needs of the poor;
  • Provision of insurance and microinsurnace services;
  • Provision of services to accommodate Remittances from Overseas Filipino Workers;
The study also provides a description of various meso level supporters (section 4.1), such as associations of banks engaged in microfinance, federations of cooperatives, and training service providers, involved in promoting best practice, acting as lobby group, providing capability building to their member-institutions. It identifies needs at this meso level as well, for example (section 4.2):

• Improving the credit information system for microfinance clients
• Improving financial literacy among users of microfinance
• Development of a microfinance database and indicator system for monitoring purposes

Read the report.

The synopsis was prepared by Justine Anschütz to help make ICCO sponsored 'research' more accessible

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