But for ABS-CBN Bayan Foundation, microfinancing is a way to uplift the lives not only of individuals but the whole community as well. “Our clients (the borrowers) are empowered because they are given the chance not only to earn but to change their lives. We boost their entrepreneurial spirit and encourage them to expand their income potentials,” said Eduardo Morato, Jr., ABS-CBN Bayan Foundation’s president.microfinancing is a way to uplift the lives not only of individuals but the whole community as well.
Ms. Nerisa’s business expansion is among the thousands of success stories. However, there is still a need to provide them the skills and business know-how’s in order to excel in a competitive environment.
This is the reason why ABS-CBN Bayan Foundation has launched the Grassroots Entrepreneurship Management (GEM) program also known as “Entrep Eskwela.”
“Entrep Eskwela is a free training program for Bayan’s clients. This program consists of modular entrepreneurial lessons which are developed by experts but can be easily comprehended by emerging entrepreneurs,” said Morato. “The program targets clients who possess a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit and have proven that through the loan, they are able to increase their sales and uplift the quality of lives around them.”
Important topics include “Setting the Entrepreneurial Mindset” which is taught on the first day. In this session, participants are exposed to what makes a successful entrepreneur. There is also a visioning exercise where trainers help the participants come up and describe their personal vision of themselves as successful entrepreneurs.
“Marami akong napag-aaralan sa GEM lalo na sa pagnenegosyo, tamang pagbabudget, at tamang pagmamasid sa kapaligiran (I learned a lot from GEM especially when it comes to business, right budgeting, and observing the environment),” Ms. Nerisa revealed.
“Our advantage as an MFI is due to the fact that we give training. Though it is not a requirement for our clients to undergo the GEM, it is an added bonus since this is very useful for them. With the GEM, they realize their potentials,” explained Katherine Seño, branch manager of ABS-CBN Bayan Foundation Lucena City.
On the other hand, Anita Jaca, 45 years old, is overwhelmed by the learnings that GEM provides. She never skipped the staggered 20-day modular training days due to the benefits she has gained. “Na-iadopt ko sa negosyo ang mga lessons dahil makabuluhan ang itinuturo sa amin (I was able to adopt the lessons in my business because what they impart to us is very important),” Ms. Anita said. She also cited the fact that the medium of instruction in the classes is Filipino which helped her understand fully. The lessons are likewise complemented by audio-visual materials and participants are encouraged to interact with one another thus broadening their understanding.
The GEM program metamorphosed from the Bridgecom sa Bayan training program that ABS-CBN Bayan and Globe Telecom was conducting in 2005. The initial phase of their program benefited both the Globe-sponsored communities and Bayan microentrepreneuers.
Inspired by its success, they ventured out into the Phase II which benefited 3,179 individuals. This time, ABS-CBN Bayan Foundation involved many communities like Argao (Cebu) Development and Multipurpose Cooperative, Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) integrees, Cebu’s Turismo Rural Foundation (TRF) and Sagip Kapamilya. Even winners of the Wowowee noontime show were also trained because they too can be taught to utilize the prize money.
The experience enabled Bayan to formalize the training, thus Entrep Eskwela was born. Coordinated in partnership with the Center for Community Transformation, they integrated lessons learned during the past program and developed 100 modules in micro and small business entrepreneurship.
“Ms. Maria and Ms. Anita will get a certification after they complete the training. They can now teach other clients in entrepreneurship at their own communities. Hopefully, this will democratize entrepreneurship in the whole country and encourage Filipinos become empowered entrepreneurs,” said Seño.
ABS-CBN Bayan Foundation aims to reach 120,000 microfinance clients through their partners all over their country. Since ABS-CBN Bayan is viewed as a collaborator and a co-worker in development, building network relationships with like-minded institutions and even competitors is now a strategy to potentially serve more people effectively. By 2012, it envisions to serve two million clients who will be certified Entrep Eskwela entrepreneurs. To do this, ABS – CBN Bayan is training the trainors of other microfinance institutions so that they can also teach entrepreneurship to their beneficiaries.
Published in Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov. 9, 2007); Philippine Star (Nov. 5, 2007); and Manila Times (Nov. 4, 2007); Business Mirror (Nov. 2, 2007); and Manila Standard (Nov. 1, 2007)