Seeking to unleash the full economic potential of micro and small enterprises (MSEs), Senator Pia S. Cayetano has filed the ‘Tulong Puhunan Bill’ which institutionalizes microfinance programs for small businesses in the country.
The proposal seeks to fulfill Cayetano’s campaign pledge to facilitate people’s access to capital with low interest and simplified procedures that would enable them to start or sustain their own means of livelihood.
‘Tulong Puhunan’ draws inspiration from the Presyo, Trabaho, Kita (PTK) program that the senator’s brother, Taguig City Representative Alan Peter Cayetano, started in 2013.
PTK provides seed capital for micro businesses and members of the informal sector, and has so far assisted 218 organizations across the country.
“We saw through the success of PTK how trust and a humble amount could go a long way to empower small organizations and help its members. We hope to institutionalize this practice through Tulong Puhunan,” explained Cayetano.
She said MSEs comprise 99% of business enterprises and contribute more than 60% of jobs generated by all business enterprises. But she lamented how financial assistance is hard to come by, forcing many MSEs to turn to informal microlending schemes with prohibitive interest rates.
The returning senator’s bill seeks to address the situation by creating a comprehensive development and assistance program for MSEs.
The ‘Tulong Puhunan Grant Program,’ which will be national in scope but tailored for each administrative region, seeks to provide MSEs with assistance and necessary resources to help their businesses grow.
The program provides free technical and administrative support to MSEs under the top five priority business areas in their respective regions. Its services will cover product development, skills and leadership training, packaging and design, quality control, market promotion, client or supplier matching, and financial literacy and planning.
The program shall also provide grants every year to top-performing enterprises in each region, to be used solely for further business capitalization.
Moreover, every micro-sized enterprise that evolves into a small enterprise through the program shall be eligible for a one-time grant of P500,000.
The bill also seeks to create the ‘Tulong Puhunan Loan Program,’ which will cater exclusively to MSEs in need of capital, whether or not they fall under the priority business areas of their regions. These MSEs shall receive loans ranging from P10,000 to P250,000, with no required collateral, and with interest not higher than prevailing bank rates.
An amount of P18 billion shall be appropriated for the initial year of implementation of the two programs, to be divided equitably among the regions. The fund shall be held in trust by the Department of Trade and Industry in collaboration with the Development Bank of the Philippines, Land Bank of the Philippines, and other Government Financial Institutions.
With the programs in place, Cayetano hopes that enterprises would no longer need to borrow from usurious ‘5-6’ lenders, and instead benefit from inclusive growth through efficient and effective access to loan facilities. #