LANDBANK-Smart livelihood program to benefit financially vulnerable sector

Published October 8, 2013

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LANDBANK and Smart awards the Panalo SIKAP Livelihood Package that includes a Smart e-load retailer kit to Pantawid beneficiary, Mylene Alterado, during the program launch. Photo shows from left, DSWD Undersecretary Mateo G. Montaño, LANDBANK President and CEO Gilda E. Pico, Smart Chief Wireless Advisor and Smart e-Money President and CEO Orlando B. Vea, EVP and head of wireless consumer business for Smart and Sun Cellular Charles Lim, Panalo SIKAP first-ever beneficiary Mylene Alterado and her children, and LANDBANK EVP and Branch Banking Sector head Jocelyn DG Cabreza.

The Panalo SIKAP (Sa Ipon at Kabuhayan Aahon ka Pinoy) program jointly embarked on by the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) and Smart e-Money, Inc. (SEMI), a wholly-owned mobile financial services subsidiary of Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), stands to benefit over four million Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries and more than five million of the country’s small farmers and fisher folks.

A first-of-its-kind worldwide, Panalo SIKAP is a revolutionary mobile-based incentivized credit, voluntary savings, insurance and livelihood program. It aims to initially cater to the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program beneficiaries of the government, and eventually expand to cover the financially-vulnerable communities from the agricultural sector.

During a formal launch held at the LandBank Plaza in Malate, Mylene Alterado was presented as the very first beneficiary of Panalo SIKAP. Alterado, accompanied by her two children, received a Smart e-load retailer business kit. This Panalo SIKAP livelihood package includes a start-up phone, retailer SIM, merchandising material, a selling guide and an initial P1000 load inventory.

“Malaki ang aking papasalamat sa LANDBANK at Smart para dito at nabigyan kaming mahihirap ng pagkakataon umangat sa among pamumuhay sa pamamagitan ng maliit na negosyo na ito (I am very thankful to both LANDBANK and Smart for this for giving us the opportunity to uplift our lives through a micro business such as this),” says Alterado, a Pantawid beneficiary. She helps her husband, a construction worker based in Iloilo, put their two kids to school by tending a small store, selling frozen food and water, and supplying bundled pages of old telephone directories to factories and markets.

“Masayang masaya ako dahil sa biyayang ito sa aming pamilya. Napakalaking tulong po ito lalo na para sa aming mga anak (I’m extremely happy because of this blessing to our family. This is a huge help especially for my children),” says a visibly emotional Alterado, who at age 11 had to start working as a household helper. To be part of Panalo SIKAP, a Pantawid beneficiary has to authorize LANDBANK to auto-deduct a fixed amount (P50 or P100) from her monthly cash grants for auto-savings. LANDBANK will then provide a loan to the beneficiary equivalent to 50 percent of her projected accumulated savings for five years, which she can use to avail of a Panalo SIKAP livelihood package similar to the Smart e-load retailer kit received by Alterado. (All CCT beneficiaries are mothers.)

Beneficiaries who voluntarily participate will pay a maximum amount of P56.61 per month, which is just 5 percent applied to loan repayment of the total deduction. The rest goes into savings. They will also be required to set aside a minimum of 20 percent from their net revenues per month from the Panalo SIKAP livelihood business as additional savings build-up. All these will not require going to any LANDBANK branch but only through her Smart mobile phone to give her more time to be with her family while earning from selling load.

All the income will be stored in a mobile savings build-up account enabled by the Smart e-Money platform and linked to the beneficiary’s LANDBANK ATM cash card.

Through the program, beneficiaries will not only enjoy the auto-savings features but at the same time have the opportunity to have immediate access to a credit facility for livelihood and in the process, providing them access to financial services and capital.

Those who avail of the loan can also enjoy a mortgage redemption insurance that covers death or total disability of the borrower while the loan is outstanding.

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LANDBANK and Smart e-Money are working together with government and multilateral agencies in fighting against poverty through Panalo SIKAP. In photo are, from left, Lito Villanueva, Co-convenor, Panalo SIKAP Program and Head, Innovation, Ecosystem Development and Global Engagement, Smart e-Money; Norman William Kraft, Agricultural Credit Policy Council Public Affairs and Information Services Director; LANDBANK EVP and Branch Banking Sector head Jocelyn DG Cabreza; DSWD Undersecretary Mateo G. Montaño; Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV; Smart Chief Wireless Advisor Orlando B. Vea; LANDBANK President and CEO Gilda E. Pico; Charles Lim, EVP and Head of Wireless Consumer Business for Smart and Sun Cellular; Chiyo Kanda, World Bank’s Portfolio and Operations Manager for the Philippines; Gloria Steele, US Embassy Manila’s USAID Mission Director in the Philippines; Esther Santos, President of PLDT-Smart Foundation; and Jose Benjamin Fernandez, Managing Director, Smart e-Money.

Guest of honor, Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, in his keynote speech, lauds Panalo SIKAP for being “a truly revolutionary innovation and one that we can all be proud of as Filipinos.” He is grateful that with the program, millions of lives of Pantawid beneficiaries, farmers and fisherfolks could be changed for the better.

“This partnership with Smart is two-pronged: First, on savings mobilization and second, on micro-enterprise development in support of the financial inclusion agenda of the National Government. Through this program, we hope to go beyond the disbursement of monthly allowances and instead, promote financial empowerment through the practice of saving and providing livelihood opportunities, especially for those at the base of the economic pyramid,” says Gilda E. Pico, President and CEO of LANDBANK and co-convener of the project.

“The key element of our mission is to continuously innovate and develop business models to promote inclusive growth. And as with many innovations, technology in itself is not enough. Human factor is always important. We are excited about this project because it brings together innovative and appropriate technology with a team of passionate partners who are all determined to bring mobile money to the grassroots,” shares Orlando B. Vea, President and CEO of Smart e-Money.

"The program partners believe that the most important benefit of Panalo SIKAP is addressing the psychosocial dimension of the target market by increasing self-worth, self-esteem and civic engagement. The program aims to enable the participants to become productive citizens of the country and to participate in the mainstream economy," said Lito Villanueva, Smart e-Money head for innovation and program co-convenor.

Panalo SIKAP is by far the largest public-private partnership for inclusive growth, financial inclusion and financial literacy in the mobile arena, as it is being supported by various well-meaning and socially responsible entities. These include The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the PLDT-Smart Foundation (PSF), the Department of Social Welfare & Development (DSWD), and the Department of Agriculture (DA). Aside from the USAID and the BSP, Panalo SIKAP is being supported by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and Mercy Corps.

“This partnership showcases that synergies exist between banks and non-banks and these synergies can be tapped to develop more innovative products that target a traditionally unbanked market,” said BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla, Jr.

Gloria Steele, US Embassy Manila’s USAID Mission Director in the Philippines calls the program “a tremendously innovative and bold idea” that is an important step toward achieving a shared vision of broad-based and inclusive growth.

“Financial inclusion, poverty alleviation and livelihood are everyone’s business. This program is a foothold in scaling up opportunities for micro-savings and entrepreneurship for our countrymen who need to break out the cycle of hardship. We’re very keen on working closely with all partners to make sure that it makes an impact,” said PLDT Group Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan in a taped interview.

Panalo Sikap, a program that aims to change lives and allow people to live more, is a product of LANDBANK and Smart’s shared vision of uplifting the lives of broad masses that is essential for the country to move forward as one.