The country’s largest foreign bank and its top university have formed a partnership to equip microentrepreneurs in Central Luzon with the necessary skills to succeed in business.
Citi Philippines CEO Aftab Ahmed and University of the Philippines (UP) Chancellor Michael Tan both expressed their commitment to the partnership after the launch of a bridging program for social entrepreneurship and financial inclusion to benefit microentrepreneurs. The landmark program aims to develop certificate courses to help build and enhance capacities of practitioners in micro and small enterprise development in Central Luzon.
Ahmed said the partnership was significant as Citi Foundation continued to enhance and expand its efforts to develop a more inclusive financial system throughout the country.
He said, “Citi has always been a champion of the microentrepreneur. With Clark Freeport Zone being one of the growth centers in the country, the entrepreneurship courses being developed in the University of the Philippines Diliman Extension Program in Pampanga (UPDEPP) comes at an opportune time. We hope the pilot proves to be successful, so our efforts in educating microentrepreneurs can then be replicated in UP colleges across the country.”
Tan and UPDEPP Director Grace Jamon sttessed that the UP campus in Clark serves was the ideal strategic base for the program because of ts location and the diverse investments from business locators in the Freeport Zone. The unique advantage can be harnessed through potential collaboration of UPDEPP with large firms to support programs transforming livelihoods and small and medium-sized enterprises in the region to become more competitive and resilient.
Professor Gerardo Agulto, Executive Director of the University of the Philippines Foundation Inc., said, “We at UP Foundation appreciate this initial engagement and support from Citi Foundation. We hope to develop updated and relevant learning materials on social enterprise management in the region and work with government and non-government organizations implementing livelihood and small enterprise programs. We intend to offer the courses initially under UPDEPP and we look forward to sustaining this process under our non-degree and degree programs. We look forward to a lasting and mutually gratifying relationship.”
Through the partnership of the two foundations, the program hopes to promote the exchange of knowledge-among institutions to determine the best strategies that could lead to sustainability and financial independence of the identified livelihood and social enterprise groups. Pilot testing of the courses is expected to benefit directly 120 individuals from different groups such as microenterprise leaders from local livelihood groups, implementers from socio-economic development agencies of government, non-government organizations, micro-finance institutions and UPDEPP core faculty. Indirectly, the beneficiaries of the program will be the other members of the livelihood groups and their families who depend on the income of the microenterprise.