Manila — The Citi Microenterprise Development Center (CMDC), a partnership between Citi Philippines and the Bayan Academy for Social Entrepreneurship and Human Resource Development, Inc., recently held the graduation rites for its 50th batch of micro entrepreneur-scholars.
The CMDC scholars spent 9-days under the Grassroots Entrepreneurship and Management (GEM) course to learn the different facets of enterprise management including self-mastery, situation mastery, and enterprise mastery. The lectures were facilitated by experts who clearly understand the unique business operations and workings of a microenterprise.
Funded by Citi Foundation, CMDC was launched as a pilot program in 2011 and has since served as a training haven for micro economic heroes.
Citi Philippines Public Affairs and Corporate Citizenship Director Aneth Lim was present to congratulate the graduates, just as she encouraged them to take full advantage of this life-changing opportunity by making a real difference not only in their families but also in their communities. “The future of this nation lies in your hardworking hands,” Aneth said. “We hope you value the investment we have made in you, and pay it forward by growing your businesses, sharing your knowledge smd skills and serve as mentors, and continuing to fuel your success with your courage and determination.”
Citi Philippines Public Affairs and Corporate Citizenship Director Aneth Lim (leftmost) wished the graduates success in their entrepreneurial journey as microbusinesses towards small and medium enterprises in the future. She is joined by (from left): Ester Sheila Vitto and Victoria Bantilan, who were recently named among the winners of the 2015 Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards, and Bayan Academy Executive Director Philip Felipe.
After graduation, CMDC will continue to support the scholars as they are transitioned to the Citi-Small Business Advisory and Coaching Services (Citi-SBACS) where they are provided with one-on-one business coaching and mentoring on issues such as marketing, finance, human resources, operations, and regulatory requirements.
Bayan Academy’s Chairman & President, Dr. Eduardo A. Morato, Jr., thanked Citi Foundation and Citi Philippines for bringing to life their organization’s entrepreneurship education advocacy throughout the entire Philippines. He also acknowledged more than 250 microfinance institutions, cooperatives and other likeminded institutions in 36 municipalities and cities all over the country for believing in the power of educating micro entrepreneurs on self mastery and enterprise development.
“Through the Citi Microenterprise Development Center, we will continue to empower more Filipino entrepreneurs and other enablers by responding to their needs to create a new entrepreneurial culture in the Philippines,” he added.The graduates are enthusiastic in their desire to avail of, and benefit from, the programs offered by CMDC—activities that aim to empower and equip them through intensive knowledge and technology transfers.
Foremost among the participants were two winners of the 2015 Citi Microenterpreneurship Awards (CMA): Ester Sheila Vitto of Bahag Footwear and Repair Shop in Oriental Mindoro, who was the Regional Awardee from Luzon; and Special Agri Micro-Business Awardee Victoria Bantilan of Edna’s Fresh Mushrooms in Negros. The CMA is a partnership among Citi Philippines, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and Microfinance Council of the Philippines that honors outstanding Filipino microentrepreneurs through an awards program. Winners of the CMA are awarded scholarships to CMDC.
Since receiving their respective awards last year, which also included generous cash grants that they’ve reinvested into their businesses, these two successful microentrepreneurs have begun reaping the benefits of the recognition gained.
Ester shared that she is in the process of completing a new manufacturing site slated to open this year, which was partly financed from the proceeds of her cash prize. Through this facility, Vitto’s Bahag Footwear and Repair Shop can now increase production and take in more orders of their slippers and sandals, all made from recycled rubber. She is also more confident in her ability to expand beyond Oriental Mindoro, and is looking into franchising as a means to help other micro-business owners.
Meanwhile, Victoria, together with her husband Roberto, have just added a half-hectare lot for organic red and brown rice production, which they grow in addition to mushrooms. Apart from this, they are also looking into expanding their mushroom harvest by way of constructing a new growing house, again using the proceeds from the money that she won.
Even with these achievements, these two enterpreneurs refuse to rest on their laurels, and still find the need for further learnings and knowledge, particularly in the areas of entrepreneurship and business management.
“Even though I already earned a degree in accounting, I realized that by participating in CMDC’s training session, there are still so many things I have to learn,“ shared Victoria. “Apart from that, I was also able to expand my network by meeting like-minded people.”
For Bantilan, such trainings are a boon to those like her who received little formal education. “Even at our age, the training we received will be very beneficial as it opened our minds on how to further grow our business,” she enthused.
CMDC is a recipient of the Social Empowerment award at the 2013 Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Awards (AREA) for its impact on improving and scaling-up microfinance clients’ businesses.
CMDC has trained nearly 3,000 microentrepeneurs. More than half have experienced an increase of 10% in their income and almost 4,000 new jobs have been created by the scholars and their businesses. CMDC was formed as a response to the expressed needs of the majority of microentrepreneurs to go back to the learning table and address their knowledge and skills gap in developing and growing their micro businesses.