Friday, December 11, 2009

Beyond Credit: A holistic approach to poverty eradication

(The following is an excerpt of the message delivered by Mr. Ruben C. de Lara, TSPI Executive Director and Microfinance Council of the Philippines Board President, during the first of a series of three conferences on “Beyond Credit: a holistic approach to poverty eradication” held at Waterfront Hotel, Lahug, Cebu City last 26-27 November. You may read the entire message at

We cannot be content with just focusing on microfinance, micro-loans, or microcredit and savings alone. The commercialization of microfinance which was the thrust in the early years focused on all these. They are not enough to eradicate poverty. The colossal impact of the two strong tropical storms in Ondoy and Pepeng confirms the truth of this statement. Eradicating poverty in our country became even more a huge and urgent task.

Microfinance --- in the Philippines as it is probably in the rest of the world --- is synonymous to poverty eradication. The poverty problem is not only huge and urgent. It is complex as well. I am not aware of any country having an integrative, well-concerted effort to solve poverty (other than the Philippines). We have a lot of well meaning countrymen and institutions doing their own share to ease the plight of the poor. Included here is our own microfinance group. And yet, the poor remains poor.

An integrative approach to tackle the basic needs of the individual poor and her community is vital. This approach will succeed only in a spirit of partnership --- partnerships with organizations that share the same vision and mission, and are willing to share responsibilities. This would raise much higher the chances of the poor to get out of the poverty syndrome.

When we view our responsibility in the microfinance sector as that of a Social Development Institution first, before that of being a Lending Institution, we create a strong spirit of philanthropism in the country - - a generous spirit that promotes the dignity of the poor because they have a shared responsibility as well in this whole mission, which is a mission of Christ no less.

Let us all (therefore) work towards this huge challenge. Such aspiration may seem like an enormous task --- but it shall be less daunting as we pursue our goal with the strength of a shared vision, shared beliefs and shared responsibilities.

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