CARD MRI Rizal Bank, Inc., a unit of the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development–Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD-MRI), opened on Monday its first branch in Mindanao, located in Oroquieta City, Misamis Occidental. In a press statement, Elma B. Valenzuela, bank president and chief executive officer, said expanding to the southern islands is part of their goal to reach “more underprivileged communities.” The microfinance-oriented rural bank now has 27 branches nationwide with a P2.5 billion savings portfolio and a P3.09 billion loan exposure. “We want our dear clients to realize the value of saving in a bank. With this, they can gradually gain financial freedom and become ready in times of financial distress,” Ms. Valenzuela said. “We want to ensure that they can receive equal opportunities in terms of financial and community development services,” she added. The seven-year old bank provides loans to micro, small and medium enterprises as well as savings and remittance products. — Carmelito Q. Francisco