Continuing its commitment to promote greater financial inclusion, especially among the unbanked and underserved communities, the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) kicked off the fourth run of its Financial Inclusion Caravan with the theme “Ipon at Kabuhayan Para sa ating Kababayan.”
The first leg of this year’s caravan was held in Sto. Niño, Cagayan, which gathered more than 500 participants, including farmers, fishers, market vendors, and beneficiaries of the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer Program.
The half-day forum featured modules on financial literacy to introduce the participants to formal banking services, as well as business and livelihood opportunities. Also presented during the caravan were some of LANDBANK’s direct lending programs for farmers, including the Accessible Funds For Delivery to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (AFFORD-ARBs), the Expanded Rice Credit Assistance under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ERCA-RCEF), and the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF).
“This year’s Financial Inclusion Caravan is more targeted because we made sure that at least 60% of the participants in each site is farmers and fishers. This is in line with our continuing efforts to intensify our support to agriculture sector, and to help our farmers and fishers improve their income and manage their finances,” LANDBANK President and Chief Executive Officer Cecilia C. Borromeo said.
The caravan was graced by Cagayan Governor Manuel N. Mamba and Sto. Niño Mayor Vicente G. Pagurayan, who both expressed their gratitude to LANDBANK for officiating such kind of event in the municipality of Sto. Niño.
As it pushes forward with its aggressive thrust to promote greater financial inclusion, the state-owned bank is also banking on solid partnerships and technology-driven strategies to bring financial services closer to Filipinos.
One of these is the implementation of the LANDBANK Agent Banking Program, which aims to broaden the bank’s reach through partnering with client cooperatives, associations, small and medium enterprises, and individuals, who can serve the public’s basic financial transactions in areas without LANDBANK presence.
In Cagayan, the LANDBANK Agent Banking Program was also launched during the caravan, with Sto. Niño Credit and Development Cooperative (SNCDC) as the pilot agent banking partner.
To encourage attendees to participate in the said program, LANDBANK provided them a free agent banking card with a load of P100. Live demonstration on how the card can be used was also shown, together with some of its features.
According to SNCDC Manager Robert Simeon, financial inclusion is what the residents of Sto. Niño in Cagayan need, given the fact they really lack access to financial institutions.
“Given our geographical location, we are bisected by rivers, the Cagayan River and Chico River, so it’s really very hard for the people to access financial services of any institutions. It’s good they launched this kind of program, bringing financial services to the people through the agent banking concept,” Mr. Simeon told BusinessWorld in an interview.
Moving forward, LANDBANK is actively looking for more partners to be part of its Agent Banking Program with the help of local branches. LANDBANK First Vice-President and Head of Card and e-Banking Group Randy Montesa said that the bank plans to deploy thousands of agent banking partners across the country.
“Hopefully, within three years, malibot natin ang buong bansa (we reach the entire country),” Mr. Montesa told the local press on the sidelines of the event.
Since LANDBANK’s Financial Inclusion Caravan was launched in 2016, a total of 25 third- to sixth-class municipalities and over 10,000 underserved Filipinos nationwide has reached and helped.
Other areas included in this year’s series of the Financial Inclusion Caravan include Rizal, Palawan; Libacao, Aklan; Aloguinsan, Cebu; Mayantoc, Tarlac; Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte; Claveria, Misamis Oriental; and Polillo Island, Quezon.