Dec 30, 2014

Filipino microfinancing firm expands to Myanmar

Myanmar nationals who are considered “unbanked” will soon get microfinancing services of a Filipino company that recently expanded in Myanmar.

Card Myanmar Company Limited (CMCL), a $150,000 expansion of the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development Mutually Reinforcing Institution (Card MRI), got its permanent license to operate as a service company last July.

“CMCL is a service company, and one part of it is the microfinance operations. The microfinance operation of the company is based on our practices and technology in the Philippines, it’s like we brought CARD’s best practices and technology from the Philippines to Myanmar,” said Card MRI founder and managing director Jaime Aristotle B. Alip.


Card has been operating in the Philippines for more than 20 years now, with businesses in microfinance, microinsurance, SME banking and capacity building. Its headquarters is in Laguna, with presence all over the Philippines.

Alip said Myanmar is Card’s first microfinance operation outside the Philippines.

However, he said the company has already extended its services to countries like Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam since 2007 through the Card MRI International Group.

“We have seen a huge potential and opportunities in Myanmar since it is now an open country and many foreign investors are already coming in,” Alip said.

As a service company in Myanmar, CMCL is implementing savings mobilization products that will enable the marginalized sector in Myanmar to save for future investments, the company said.

Loans released

Alip reported that as of last November, CMCL already released loans worth Kyats 6.7 million, which is equivalent to around P270,000. At present, CMCL has covered one township with eight centers. It currently has 175 members, with 142 of them having received loans.

“Since CMCL is just starting, the first loan is $50 to $100 per client, depending on the size of business,” Alip said.

CMCL loans have a 100 percent repayment rate, the company said.

By next year, Alip said they are targeting 6,640 clients to be served by at least seven Card experts from the Philippines and 44 local staff. Part of the goal, he added, is to open five more branches in 2015.

At present, CMCL has eight staff trainees consisting of one interpreter, one finance staff and six account officers. Alip said there are currently six other applicants who are undergoing trainings in preparation for staffing needs in 2015. In 2017, CMCL is targeting to serve more than 26,000 Burmese clients.

Aside from microfinancing, Card is also providing technical assistance to other MFIs in Myanmar.

“Microfinance is relatively new in Myanmar as most of the microfinance regulations are just being attended to by the government,” Alip said.

Long way to go

While Myanmar and the Philippines share some characteristics like having low income and marginalized families who are in need of financial access, the latter is considered a more mature microfinancing ecosystem.

“There is a long way to go to be able to follow what the Philippines has achieved so far,” Alip told Sun.Star Cebu.

Aside from microfinance, the official said Card will be bringing its other services like micro insurance and SME baking to Myanmar, among many other locations.

Expansions in the other countries outside Myanmar are also being considered by the company with feasibility studies geared next year, Alip said.

Source: Sun Start Cebu