RIZAL Bank Inc. (RBI), a microfinance-oriented rural bank and a member institution of Center for Agriculture and Rural Development-Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (Card-MRI), recently launched in Dumaguete City its first branch in Visayas.
RBI President and CEO Flordeliza Sarmiento said that initially, some 1,257 clients from Dumaguete Unit of Card Inc., another institution of CARD MRI, that are transitioned to RBI will now have access to formal banking.
Sarmiento said good performing members of Card Inc. from the municipalities Sibulan, San Jose, Pamplona and Tanjay City will be transferred or open their account to RBI.
Once transitioned to RBI, members will also have the same opportunity to avail themselves of various financial and non-financial services being offered by the bank.
She also emphasized that with the establishment of Dumaguete branch, the bank will have a wider opportunity to increase its membership, provide higher loans for various businesses and mobilize savings from the general public.
However, Sarmiento said that “members do not necessarily come to the bank to transact but they can deposit through their respective center because we have approval from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) that we can accept micro deposit.”
In 2010, Card MRI, a social development organization, started its operation in Negros Oriental and Siquijor as microfinance NGO, through Card Inc.
The institution provides community development and financial services to socio-economic-challenged families.
Card-MRI projects provide loans such as small-scale livelihood activities, agriculture, education, health and disaster risk management especially to poor women and their families in the countryside.
To date, Card already reached 31,000 clients in Negros Oriental.
“The establishment of RBI in Dumaguete is a fulfillment of what Card MRI has promised to the people of Dumaguete and to other CARD members; that is ownership of a bank,” Sarmiento said.
Members of RBI can use their savings to buy shares of stocks after they have been a member for three years and recorded 100 percent repayment rate on all loans availed from the bank.
She added that as part of the bank’s expansion program, transitioning of good performing members of Card from Sibulan, Tanjay, San Jose and Pamplona offices will be done until May 2016.
For her part, Card Executive Director Elma Valenzuela said that she is grateful that Dumaguete is now fully transitioned to RBI.
Card focuses on areas with low poverty level and expand in remote places in the Visayas and other parts of the country to develop more members who will also eventually be transitioned to other banks of Card MRI.
Card member Jonah Flores of Dumaguete City said: “I am a Card stockholder and is enjoying several benefits from Card. I started with hog raising business and now I am also into crop farming. With this transition to RBI I know they will meet our needs beyond our expectations.”
As of March this year, RBI is providing financial and non-financial services, which are provided by other institutions under Card MRI, to almost 100,000 clients through its seven branches within Luzon.
Sarmiento said RBI will open more branches in Negros Oriental.
This is in support to the 5-8-40 strategy of Card MRI wherein in five years from 2016, Card MRI will reach a total of eight million clients to provide financial and non-financial services and insure 40 million individuals. (PIA)