DTI offers zero-percent interest loans to help small Marawi businesses get back on their feet

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MANILA, Philippines — Micro-entrepreneurs who were displaced by the war in Marawi City will be offered zero-percent interest loans by the Small Business Corporation (SBCorp), an attached agency of the Department of Trade and Industry, to help them rebuild their businesses.

As part of the government’s rehabilitation efforts for Marawi, the micro-entrepreneurs will have this opportunity starting early December up to April next year.

In a press release, DTI said it would also be extending to them the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso or the P3 Program, a micro-finance program SBCorp has been implementing since April, and an alternative to the traditional 5/6 practice.

It added that micro-finance institutions that want to lend to residents of Lanao del Sur would be given credit risk support under the P3 Program “in exchange for their timely and quick response.”

The P3 Program “supports micro entrepreneurs across the country with an initial funding of P850 million via lower cost loans,” according to the department.

Its aim is to help micro entrepreneurs, as well as Filipinos “who are vulnerable to usurious lenders in the absence of an alternative source.”

“Under the P3 Program, a micro enterprise can borrow between P5,000 up to P100,000 depending on its business need and repayment capacity. Interest rate and service fees do not exceed 2.5 percent monthly as compared to the 20 percent monthly rate under the 5/6 system. Documentation is simplified and processing time is also reasonable,” the DTI explained.

A DTI-SBCorp team has already been assigned at DTI-Marawi to set up the P3 facility, which will also be supported by DTI-Cagayan de Oro.

At the same time, there will be “starter livelihood kits” distributed by the DTI to the Marawi residents.

“The recent events in Marawi raised the need to generate several programs that will aide in the rehabilitation of Marawi and the full assistance to affected residents,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez was quoted as saying.

“In support of government-wide efforts to help the people of Marawi, we will be working closely with our Maranao countrymen to ensure they have access to the needed funds to get their businesses back on their feet,” he added.

According to the DTI, SBCorp has already accredited 94 microfinance institutions, with 45 more in the pipeline.

There have been almost 40,000 borrowers under the P3 Program, which has been rolled out nationwide, “except for a handful of provinces”.

DTI noted that next year, the government will add P1 billion to the P3 Program fund “to support more micro enterprises in growing their small business.”

“Through the P3, our poor sectors can find relief from overly expensive borrowings as they pursue their livelihood activities,” Lopez said.

It has already seen success in Leyte, with the DTI citing the experiences of Rose Marie Obena of Tacloban City and Hercolano Villasin of the Municipality of Calubian.

Obena was the only one in her family to survive Supertyphoon Yolanda. She and other market vendors were able to access a P3 loan to expand her store.

Meanwhile, Villasin, 78, accessed the P3 Program through the Fatima Multi-Purpose Cooperative to support his dried fish business, which he has been doing since he was a teenager.