A little help from her friends
Article from Manila Bulletin: https://business.mb.com.ph/2020/03/12/a-little-help-from-her-friends/
Crabs are Melinda Dilag Belinario’s means of livelihood, but it is the opposite of crab mentality that has allowed her to prosper in the business.
One of Aling Melinda’s crab stalls in Occidental Mindoro with BPI Banko manager, Laiza Jayne Perino
She only had P10,000 in capital in 2006 when she decided to start selling crabs at a public market in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. For 11 years, she worked hard, thankful that she had a source of income even though she was restless and dreamed of something bigger.
Sometime in 2017, a fellow seafood vendor told her about Bank of the Philippines Islands’ (BPI) Banko and suggested she try applying for a loan. Aling Melinda was apprehensive – her business was, after all, very small. Interest rates may be too high especially since she did not have any collateral to offer. She was worried she might not be able to produce the documents needed for her loan application.
But Aling Melinda was in for a surprise. She learned that BPI Banko, BPI’s microfinance arm, provides loans to self-employed micro-entrepreneurs. BPI Banko representatives took notice of her good, marketable products as well as her capacity and eagerness to expand. She obtained an initial loan of P100,000 at friendly interest rates; she used this immediately to open another store.
The returns were brisk. In the next three years, she was able to avail herself of three more loans ranging between P100,000 and P150,000. She used the proceeds to open other stalls in Occidental Mindoro as well as a grocery store.
Over the years, Aling Melinda’s business thrived, not only because of the funds made available to her, but because of the support and encouragement she got from BPI Banko. “They give me advice on how to use the loans for the business and make smart investments,” she says. “I value all their input because they help me become a more discerning entrepreneur.”
Aling Melinda is one of some 277,000 other small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Ayala network.
Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are an increasingly significant contributor to economic growth in the country. They account for some 99.5% of the total number of Philippine businesses today. They contribute about 35% of the country’s total gross domestic product. MSMEs employ 63% of working Filipinos.
For the Ayala network of SMEs, inclusivity and support are common themes.
“We want to help achieve a shared prosperity. Ayala has always believed that true success is inclusive and benefits many businesses beyond our own companies within the group,” says Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Ayala Chairman and CEO.
“We believe that success must ripple throughout entire ecosystems, to eventually create and help accelerate the growth of other entities like self-employed micro-entrepreneurs.”
Aside from being her financial advisers, BPI Banko professionals have become Aling Melinda’s personal coaches. They tell her, for instance, not to get disheartened when some challenges come her way. For example, when her crabs die in transit to Manila, she now finds it easier to recover the loss. When people fail to pay her back after she lent them money out of the goodness of her heart, she now is more discerning on whom to trust. She is able to handle her money better.
“’Charge them to experience,’ that’s what they tell me,” she says. They are patient with her questions, helpful with their advice – and most of all, they themselves are long-standing customers of her crab business.
“My daughter is in college studying accounting, and she helps me in the business with the things she has learned in school. My sons drive me around and help me manage my stores.”
“I am very thankful to BPI Banko for its trust and support. I was able to provide a better life for my family. I learned that you can achieve anything you want if you are determined and if you have people around you to make your load lighter and pull you up.”