20,000 Mindanao quake victims seek relief from Microfinance NGO

More than 20,000 victims of the spate of earthquakes that rocked parts of Mindanao recently have found solace from the quick response for relief provided by a grassroots-based non-government organization that specializes in microfinance.

Jocelyn Dequito, executive director of the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development, Inc., reported that their NGO managed to provide immediate relief assistance such as food, water, clothes, and medicines to quake victims from 4,878 affected families in Mindanao.

“The recent earthquakes in the different parts of Mindanao is a reminder that Filipino families continue to be vulnerable to natural disasters. Not only were houses and establishments destroyed, but lives were also taken away because of the recent disaster,” Dequito said.

“While these calamities cannot be prevented or avoided, there is always hope for vulnerable. Organizations like the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development, Inc., a Microfinance NGO, are always ready to extend their helping hands whenever the socio-economically challenged faces adversities,” Dequito added.

Since the establishment of the microfinance NGO in 1986, it has vowed to empower communities by providing access to social and economic development services including disaster management.

From 2016 to 2018, more than 320,000 affected individuals of calamities were given relief assistance amounting to PHP64 million.  As of November 2019, the institution spent more than PHP580,000.00 for the relief assistance to afflicted communities.

“CARD, Inc. also allows its clients to become resilient when calamities strike. More than 64,000 of its clients received claims payment having access to microinsurance services. This served as their safety nets in times of uncertainties,” Dequito explained.

However, it is not only during calamities when the poor faces uncertainties. It is when there is lack of access to education, healthcare, and other development programs that they remain trapped in the cycle of poverty,” she added.

As such, Dequito noted that CARD, Inc. implements relevant community development programs and services for the communities. Continuous and better healthcare programs and services, through its microfinance and health protection program, are brought closer to the communities especially to those impoverished and disaster-stricken areas.

In the last three years, more than 20,000 of its clients received hospitalization benefits and 337 thousand individuals have access to affordable and quality medicines, and to other healthcare-related services. For these, the institution allocated an average of PhP 45M per year.

The Microfinance NGO envisions a future when every household will have at least one college graduate, hence the One Family One Graduate Program.

“When people are educated, their chances of creating a better future for themselves and their families become higher,” Dequito said.

CARD, Inc. also offers scholarship programs that enables deserving individuals to complete their education. Currently, a total of 11,777 beneficiaries has already received scholarship/educational assistance program and in the last three years, CARD, Inc. allocated an average of PhP 23 M per year for this.

Apart from formal education, CARD, Inc. also provides other platforms for communities to become informed and educated. More than 2.2 million CARD clients received Credit with Education, 1,338 had the opportunity to attend educational tours, 16,587 received marketing assistance, enterprise development, and livelihood trainings. CARD Inc allocated an average of PhP 24M per year since 2016 for these services.

Being an institution that has lasted for more than 30 years, Dequito said CARD, Inc. hopes to create more impact to the communities it serves. With partnerships created with appropriate agencies, private institutions and other organizations and individuals, CARD, Inc. is able to facilitate change in the lives of more than 2.1 million families.

One concrete example is the support given by the government when it passed the RA 10693 or the Microfinance NGO Act, signed on November 2015. This Act supports the low-income sector by giving tax incentives to Microfinance NGOs that the latter use as fund to implement community development programs.

“Microfinance NGOs can continue creating sustainable programs for underserved families and encourage them to start entrepreneurial activities because of the two percent preferential tax contribution based on gross receipts from microfinance operations,” Dequito explained.

“The advocacy of microfinance NGOs to touch more lives through extending their social causes to create meaningful impact will endure. No earthquake, typhoon or any other calamity will be strong enough to shake its mission of ending poverty in the country. With continuous support, CARD and other microfinance NGOs will continue the work it has started in nation building and development until all Filipinos are free from extreme poverty,” she added.