FINTECH -for the poorest of the poor
Gadgets|March 2020
How NWTF has committed to invest in technology to create a stable and robust FINTECH infrastructure for the poor.
Presy Alba

NWTF—Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation—is a microfinance non-government organization headquartered in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. Founded in 1984 at the height of the sugar crisis to address the problem of poverty by enabling the women to harness their innate skills to earn a living to support their families, this non-profit NGO has quietly moved thousands of families out of poverty.

Now on its 36th year, NWTF was the one of the first microfinance replicators in the Philippines, adopting the Grameen method developed by Nobel Laureate, Professor Muhammad Yunus in Bangladesh in 1989. Its flagship microfinance program, PROJECT DUNGGANON now has 197 branches spread mostly across the rural parts of the islands of Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte, Samar, Panay, and Palawan; and the Luzon Provinces of Laguna, Batangas, Albay, Quezon, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Rizal, with plans to open 55 more branches this year.

HOW MICROFINANCE WORKS

The Grameen method of microfinance organizes five unrelated women, ideally friends or neighbors, who could vouch for one another into one group. Before they are accepted into the program, the women must go through a short orientation where they are instructed on how the microfinance program works and what their rights and obligations are. This includes a workshop that helps them identify their marketable skills and decide on the business activity they can engage in using existing skills and talents.

The initial loan can be as small as a thousand up to five thousand pesos. Because they are not required to provide asset collateral, it is the group’s responsibility to make sure that each member pays their weekly installment. Ten groups make up a center, which meets once a week for about an hour to pay their weekly installment. The Center Meeting also serves as venue for knowledge sharing where the women share their stories and experiences, providing each other with moral support and encouragement. It is in these meetings that the women build strong bonds of community.

INNOVATIONS

Over the years, NWTF learned that providing access to financial assistance is really not enough to help the poor move out of poverty. One illness, one calamity—such as a typhoon, earthquake, or flood—can totally wipe out everything that the family has built over several years.

This is why, in addition to the usual microloans for their business activities and access to micro-insurance, NWTF offers its clients low-interest higher-education loans so their children could go to college. They can also avail of special loans so they could improve their houses, build sanitary toilets, and have safe water access and environment-friendly light sources and cookstoves.

To improve the quality of life of its clients, NWTF also provides free non-financial services such as financial literacy, skills trainings, and capacity-building workshops. It conducts medical, surgical and dental missions with free medicine in all its branches, at least twice a year.

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