THE DEPARTMENT of Trade and Industry (DTI) has assisted over 110,000 micro-entrepreneurs after releasing P5.1 billion worth of loans through its Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) program.

The P3 program was launched in 2017 to provide an alternative to predatory “5-6” loans.

“The P3 program was created so that even the smallest of entrepreneurs, like the sari-sari stores owners and market vendors, will have an opportunity to grow their business without the usurious 5-6 loans,” DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said in a statement.

“I encourage all entrepreneurs in need of capital to avail of the P3 program through the DTI Negosyo Centers and accredited credit delivery partners.”

DTI’s micro-financing arm Small Business Corporation (SB Corp.) released assistance to 110,006 entrepreneurs as of Dec. 23.

SB Corp. released the P5.15 billion worth of loans through 412 partner micro-finance institutes to reach rural and far-flung areas. SB Corp. in July had also partnered with 10 credit delivery partners for efficient loan delivery.

Through the program, micro-businesses can borrow between P5,000 to P200,000. The loan amount is based on business need and repayment capacity.

Interest rate and service fees are capped at 2.5% monthly, compared with the 20% nominal interest rate given to small businesses by the “5-6” money lending industry. P3 has no collateral requirement.

The P3 program also released P7.5 million of loans to 457 Maranao borrowers in the Bangon Marawi initiative following the armed conflict in the region.

Soldiers and police officers who were either wounded or killed in action during the conflict were also given assistance. The 412 individuals or their families were given P31 million in assistance. — Jenina P. Ibañez