Rizal Bank opens 2nd branch in Cebu

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Rizal Bank, Inc. (RBI), a mi­cro­fi­nance-ori­ented ru­ral bank, opened its sec­ond branch in Ar­gao, Cebu City on Septem­ber 25 to pro­vide wide loan and sav­ings op­por­tu­ni­ties to the com­mu­ni­ties cov­ered. The branch is the fourth branch in the Visayas re­gion and the 13th na­tion­wide.

RBI, one of the fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions of CARD Mu­tu­ally Re­in­forc­ing In­sti­tu­tions (CARD MRI), started its op­er­a­tion in Cebu last year. The op­er­a­tions of the bank is fo­cused in south Cebu since an­other mem­ber-in­sti­tu­tion un­der CARD MRI is in-charge of the north­ern part of the metro.

The two branches, ac­cord­ing to Pres­i­dent and CEO Elma Valen­zuela, will cover their op­er­a­tions from Minglanilla to San­tander. “Strate­gi­cally, more mi­crobank­ing of­fices (MBOs) will be es­tab­lished es­pe­cially in ar­eas where a reg­u­lar branch is not fea­si­ble to be set up,” Pres­i­dent and CEO Valen­zuela added.

Bangko Sen­tral ng Pilip­inas (BSP) de­fined MBOs as “scaled-down of­fices, which pro­vide a spec­i­fied range of bank­ing ac­tiv­i­ties and ser­vices such as ac­cep­tance of mi­cro-de­posits, dis­burse­ment of mi­cro-loans, sell­ing of mi­croin­sur­ance, pur­chase of for­eign cur­rency, bills pay­ments, govern­ment pay-outs, and e-money con­ver­sion.” The birth of RBI In 2005, CARD MRI started its so­cial devel­op­ment op­er­a­tion in Cebu un­der the Cen­ter for Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral Devel­op­ment (CARD), Inc. The op­er­a­tions of CARD paved way for the com­mu­ni­ties in Cebu to avail var­i­ous com­mu­nity devel­op­ment pro­grams and mi­cro­fi­nance ser­vices.

“Even­tu­ally, we’ve seen how the lives of our clients have been im­prov­ing. Their re­spec­tive busi­ness, too, need higher amount of cap­i­tal­iza­tion; hence, the need to es­tab­lish a for­mal bank­ing sys­tem was pressed,” Jocelyn De­quito, CARD, Inc. Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor, said in a phone in­ter­view.

In 2012, CARD MRI ac­quired RBI, then the Rizal Ru­ral Bank (Tay­tay), Inc. Right after its 100% ac­qui­si­tion, mi­cro­fi­nance pro­gram was im­ple­mented im­me­di­ately us­ing the CARD MRI method­ol­ogy. Based in Sta. Cruz, La­guna, RBI’s first ex­pan­sion is within the CAL­ABAR­ZON ar­eas. After a year, RBI be­came vis­i­ble in the north­ern ar­eas of Lu­zon; and in the Visayas area in 2016.

CARD, Inc. then tran­si­tioned its grad­u­ate clients in south Cebu to RBI in 2016, which led the es­tab­lish­ment of the first branch of the bank in the Visayas re­gion. “85% of CARD, Inc. clients have been tran­si­tioned to our RBI Car­car City Branch,” ED De­quito added.

Grad­u­ate clients are those who have ex­ceeded the stan­dards of CARD in terms of char­ac­ter per­for­mance and busi­ness vi­a­bil­ity.

The con­tin­u­ous ex­pan­sion, ac­cord­ing to Pres­i­dent and CEO Valen­zuela, is part of CARD MRI’s vi­sion to erad­i­cate poverty in our coun­try.”

RBI way of ze­ro­ing poverty

“To holis­ti­cally achieve our goal of zero poverty, we im­ple­mented var­i­ous fi­nan­cial and non-fi­nan­cial ser­vices tai­lored-fit to the needs of our clients,” Pres­i­dent and CEO Valen­zuela shared.

Among the fi­nan­cial ser­vices are mi­cro­fi­nance loans and SME-work­ing cap­i­tal loans es­pe­cially for clients who en­gage in liveli­hood ac­tiv­i­ties, en­ter­prises, or busi­nesses. These types of loan may be availed at a min­i­mum of Php2,000 to 5 mil­lion pe­sos.

The bank also pro­vides ed­u­ca­tional, health, and cell­phone loans to re­spond to the other needs of their mi­cro­fi­nance clients.

In col­lab­o­ra­tion with other mem­ber in­sti­tu­tions un­der CARD MRI, RBI also of­fers schol­ar­ship pro­gram for the chil­dren of its clients, links clients to part­ner health providers for to avail dis­counts on their med­i­cal ser­vices, and pro­vides var­i­ous train­ings and ca­pac­ity-build­ing ser­vices. One fam­ily, one grad­u­ate CARD MRI Manag­ing Direc­tor Flordeliza Sarmiento em­pha­sized also dur­ing her talk at the open­ing the im­por­tance of ed­u­ca­tion in al­le­vi­at­ing poverty. “Ed­u­ca­tion, other than the mi­cro­fi­nance ser­vices we of­fer, is the best weapon in com­bat­ting poverty,” MD Sarmiento said.

In 2016, CARD MRI launched a pro­gram called “One Fam­ily, One Grad­u­ate” to pro­vide ed­u­ca­tion to its mil­lions of clients. The pro­gram is an ef­fort to en­sure that for ev­ery fam­ily CARD MRI serves, one will grad­u­ate from col­lege, lead­ing to en­hanced eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion of the whole fam­ily.

Ac­cord­ing to CARD MRI Founder and Chair­man Dr. Jaime Aris­to­tle B. Alip it has been the in­sti­tu­tion’s dream that no stu­dent will be a school dropout re­gard­less of so­cial stand­ing. “CARD be­lieves in the value of ed­u­ca­tion and its im­por­tance in the ful­fill­ment of na­tion build­ing. Ed­u­ca­tion will lead to em­ploy­ment or en­trepreneur­ship, thus, break­ing the cy­cle of poverty in one’s fam­ily,” Dr. Alip added. 5-8-40 strate­gic di­rec­tion In sup­port to the goal of hav­ing a fi­nan­cially in­clu­sive coun­try, CARD MRI launched in 2015 its 5-8-40 strat­egy, which aims to reach eight mil­lion Filipinos na­tion­wide and in­sure at least 40 mil­lion in­di­vid­u­als in five years.

“To reach more com­mu­ni­ties, CARD MRI al­ready mapped ar­eas where we can sig­nif­i­cantly and rel­e­vantly ex­tend our mi­cro­fi­nance and com­mu­nity-based devel­op­ment pro­grams this year,” MD Sarmiento said.

MD Sarmiento also dis­closed that the ex­pan­sion of CARD MRI is fo­cused on is­lands, towns, and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties where for­mal bank­ing is lim­ited.

“RBI and the rest of CARD MRI will con­tinue to go be­yond bor­ders to achieve a fi­nan­cially in­clu­sive Philip­pines,” MD Sarmiento con­cluded.

To date, RBI has more than 20,000 mi­cro­fi­nance clients in Cebu and more than 213,000 na­tion­wide. CARD MRI, on the other hand, reaches to more than 4.64 mil­lion clients and in­sures more than 14 mil­lion in­di­vid­u­als.

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