Search For Outstanding Microentrepreneurs Launched

The search for the country’s most successful microentrepreneurs is on, with the launch of the annual Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards (CMA) recently held at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor Benjamin E. Diokno and Citi Philippines chief executive officer Aftab Ahmed led the launch of the 17th CMA, which honors microentrepreneurs who have overcome poverty by partnering with microfinance institutions that support the government’s financial inclusion and enterprise development initiatives.

Funded by Citi Foundation, the nationwide search is a partnership among BSP, Citi Philippines and the Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc. (MCPI).

(L-R) Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor Benjamin E. Diokno, 2018 Youth Microentrepreneur of the Year  Mary Ann Montemayor and Citi Philippines chief executive officer Aftab Ahmed

“The partnership with MCPI and Citi Philippines remains one of BSP’s cornerstones in stakeholder engagement for financial inclusion. The Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards, as the fruit of such remarkable partnership, serves as an important platform to convey the message that collaboration with a strong shared vision, coupled with responsive policies and reforms, can bring the best out of the Filipino people,” said Governor Diokno.

This year’s National Selection Committee is headed by Governor Diokno and Aftab Ahmed. Committee members include notable industry and community leaders such as Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, SM Investments Corporation vice-chair Tessie Sy-Coson, Ayala Corporation president Fernando Zobel de Ayala, JG Summit Holdings, Inc. president and CEO Lance Y. Gokongwei, RFM Corporation president and CEO Jose Ma. A. Concepcion III, former Philippine Daily Inquirer chair Marixi Rufino-Prieto, University of the Philippines Diliman Chancellor Dr. Michael L. Tan, Samahan ng mga Pilipina para sa Reporma at Kaunlaran (SPARK!) Philippines president Imelda M. Nicolas, and MSME Development Council Mindanao private sector representative Mary Ann Montemayor.

“We are thrilled that after 17 years, the CMA continues to provide economic empowerment opportunities for microentrepreneurs, including a growing number of young people. We take pride in the fact that this initiative has helped us make a meaningful and lasting contribution on the diversity front. A sizeable percentage of the award recipients have been women and the program has empowered them and helped them improve the lives of their families and communities,” said Ahmed.

The CMA has significantly helped several microentrepreneurs. 2018 Youth Microentrepreneur of the Year winner Mary Grace Bayalas said, “My win at the 2018 CMA helped me expand my business. It was not only the cash prize that was important but also the skills and knowledge I acquired from the training that CMA provided. I also deeply value the connections I have made with fellow microentrepreneurs.”

The awards are open to microenterprises with assets less than P3 million. To be recognized are the CMA National winner, regional awardees from the three major island groups (Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao), Youth Microentrepreneur of the Year and three special awards that are open to different categories including agriculture, green/sustainable business, community leadership, startup micro-business, persons with disabilities, social innovation, financial technology/digital enterprise, and preservation of traditions.

The CMA national winner will receive P200,000 while the three regional awardees, youth awardee and special awardees will each get P100,000. Loan officers and MFI branch partners of the awardees will each get a cash incentive of P10,000. Semi-finalists will get a cash incentive of P10,000.

Deadline for submission of entries is July 19, 2019. Entries should be submitted to MCPI. Finalists will be chosen by the Country Team composed of officers of Citi Philippines, MCPI and BSP. The National Selection Committee will select the winners who will be awarded on November 26, 2019.

Aside from the prizes, CMA awardees also get access to supplementary tools that can help them grow their businesses. They will receive microinsurance coverage and a nine-day entrepreneurship training at the Citi Microenterprise Development Center, a laptop each and basic computer training. They also gain automatic membership to the CMA Alumni Network to build their market connections and to participate in a mentoring program that will help them further improve their businesses.

CMA was introduced in 2002 when Citi marked its 100th year in the Philippines and in Asia. The awards program has since been adopted as a global program and introduced in over 30 countries. In the last decade, it has honored over 100 Filipinos, many of whom have grown their businesses significantly in terms of profits and assets.

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