Search for pandemic-resilient microentrepreneurs begins

    Benjamin Diokno, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor. (Photo from

    The achievements and contributions of the country’s microentrepreneurs were at the forefront once again with the virtual launch of the 2020 Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards (CMA).

    Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno and Citi Philippines CEO Aftab Ahmed led the launch of the 18th CMA, which aims to give due recognition to outstanding microentrepreneurs. The 2020 edition of the annual ceremony was also modified to respond to community needs resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Funded by Citi Foundation, the nationwide search is a partnership among BSP, Citi Philippines and the Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc. (MCPI).

    “More than ever, it is vital to sustain our microentrepreneurs, who provide essential products and services in the “last mile.” Predominant in low-income areas and serving as engines driving local economies, microentrepreneurs also nurture swathes of the Filipino population depending on them for post-pandemic recovery and rebuilding. Through CMA 2020, we highlight the creativity and internal fortitude of our microentrepreneurs to serve as a great inspiration,” said Diokno.

    The 2020 program will be focusing on two main components: COVID-19 rehabilitation support package and recognition of outstanding microentrepreneurs during the COVID-19 crisis.

    “We are happy that through the CMA program, we are able to help microentrepreneurs overcome some of the financial challenges that they are facing and to improve their business proposition, their products and their services. It is essential for these businesses to learn to adapt as well as implement new strategies. This will be particularly important in the coming months as we start moving towards normalization,” said Ahmed.

    The first component focused on responding to the rehabilitation needs of previous CMA winners. Through this part of the program, past CMA winners were awarded with a cash incentive of up to P50,000 each. One of the recipients of the 2020 COVID-19 Rehabilitation Support Program is Keith Gonzales Varias, 2017 Youth Microentrepreneur of the Year Awardee.

    “The pandemic has posed a lot of challenges for my computer business, ultimately affecting my family, my workers, and myself. However, CMA is helping me to bounce back from the adversities and rebuild my livelihood. It has been truly a blessing to be a recipient of this program,” said Varias.

    The second component will focus on highlighting the important role of microentrepreneurs in rebuilding local economies during the COVID-19 crisis. One of those microentrepreneurs is Rosario Amoroto, 2018 CMA Regional Awardee for Visayas. Her business struggled with the imposition of community quarantines but she still continues it so that she can help the families of her workers and the farmers who dependon her calamansi business.

    “Winning the CMA has brought good things for my business. The cash prize and the skills and knowledge that the CMA has provided me really helped me take my business to the next level and survive this pandemic. We all have to help each other in order to survive this crisis,” Amoroto added.

    The awards are open to microenterprises with assets less than P3 million. To be recognized are three island group winners from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, as well as two other special awardees, namely the Youth Entrepreneurship awardee and the COVID-19 response champion. All five awardees should have successfully rebuilt their enterprise to a level that is now contributing to local economies during the COVID-19 crisis, while maintaining a healthy repayment record on their loan even as they continue to rebuild their enterprise.

    Additionally, the COVID-19 response champion should have supported, innovated, or led pandemic response initiatives to help others. The three island group winners, the Youth Microentreprenuer, and the COVID-19 response champion will get P100,000 each, as well as one-year microinsurance coverage. From the five winners, a National Winner will be selected who will be receiving an additional P100,000.

    All winners will be determined by the NSC and recognized in a simple awards ceremony in June 2021. Through these efforts, the CMA will ultimately highlight role models for aspiring and hardworking entrepreneurs and generate greater awareness and appreciation of microfinance and microenterprise development as a tool for employment generation and poverty reduction. 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 141 Filipinos, many of whom have grown their businesses significantly in terms of profits and assets.


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