More than 20 percent of Filipinos live below the poverty line, according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development, a specialized UN agency tasked to eradicate poverty and hunger in developing countries.
The incidence of high poverty is especially felt in the rural areas, with underemployment and unemployment prevalent in these areas due to lack of access to knowledge, technology, market and capital.
The existence of microfinancing institutions like ASA Philippines Foundation provide a financing system for poor communities to establish small and social enterprises or finance the basic needs of their families. Poor communities are typically not served by traditional banks or insurance companies. Microfinancing serves as a tool that directly generates self-employment for poor communities to produce goods and services.
With the help of microfinancing, ASA Philippines gives these communities cheaper and collateral-free micro credit, empower women, eliminate abusive money lenders, pressure the microfinance market to reduce rates and make loans affordable, and reduce the poor’s dependence on charity and grants. ASA Philippines has put a special focus on giving women livelihood opportunities to sustain their families.
ASA Philippines has funded projects such as: building sanitation systems in Apayao, Leyte, Maguindanao, Marawi; developing renewable energy sources in Bicol, Palawan, and Samar; and providing disaster response to Leyte, Zamboanga and Marawi. From these projects, the communities have acquired financial education and exercised personal responsibility, thus ensuring the projects’ sustainability.
“While we received grants in the initial stages of our operation, it has always been the goal of the Foundation to be self-sustaining and to be the best managed microfinance institution in the country. We have been able to accomplish this, expanding our outreach to poor communities in all 82 provinces in the country while relying solely on funds generated from operations and bank borrowings. We have not asked for any additional grant funding,” said ASA Philippines Foundation CEO Kamrul Tarafder.