Business As Usual

For nurturing community heroes: Citi awarded Asean’s Best in CSR

Rica Delfinado - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Throughout its more than a century of operating in the country, Citi Philippines has additionally nurtured a new breed of stakeholders apart from its institutional and individual clients – and they are the community heroes.

Microentrepreneurs lead off the list, whose economic activities have uplifted their lives, their extended families as well as their communities. Farmers too have been the recipient of financial education programs and eventual beneficiary of financial products and services designed from Citi-funded research, seeking to be more responsive to the needs of this long marginalized sector. 

The youth looking for better opportunities through education, livelihood and other programs have also significantly benefitted from a host of programs led and sustained by Citi in its role as a responsible corporate citizen.  Completing this set are Citi’s own employees who year-round sign up for various philanthropy initiatives, sharing their time, talent and skills through volunteering activities.

Thanks to this track record, Citi Philippines was awarded Best in CSR and Community Development at the ASEAN Corporate Sustainability Summit, held July 21 at the Manila Marriott Ballroom.

For the country’s largest bank, who has been at the receiving end of prestigious awards from global and national institutions as Best Bank, Best Foreign Bank, Best Foreign Investment Bank, Best Digital Bank and more – this recognition is just as special and truly worth celebrating.

Citi Philippines CEO Aftab Ahmed accepted the award and spoke on behalf of the franchise.  He expressed his thanks to the organizers led by the Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation or ASSIST, as he addressed the audience of over 200 CSR practitioners from the ASEAN.

“Financial inclusion is an imperative where all of us can make a difference.  Our collective goal should be to make tomorrow a more financially inclusive world,” Ahmed said.

In its editorial, the organizers said the award sought to identify and recognize companies that implemented the most successful CSR projects.  Success for the programs were studied from the perspective of stakeholders whom it has targeted, whose needs have been addressed, and the ability of the results to last beyond the project.

“The Economist ranks the Philippines as the top country in Asia, and third in the world, in terms of having the most conducive environment for financial inclusion.  In the last five years, Citi has provided grants to over 12,000 microfinance entrepreneurs and microfinance institutions adding up to approximately P150 million. These entrepreneurs in turn have created 12,000 to 15,000 new jobs,” Ahmed said.

 “The grants were provided to help these entrepreneurs enhance their business skills and provide them greater access to financial products and services and to achieve their growth objectives,” he said.

 The organizers related that every nomination was screened and ranked versus the following lens: advocacy, key programs, social impact, innovation and inclusion.

Global banker Ahmed standing tall – this time in the CSR world.

In support of its nomination, Citi showcased its community investments for the last year and two were highlighted for innovation.

The first is the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards, introduced in 2002 as Citi marked its centennial year in the Philippines. Two years later, it was embraced by New York-based Citi Foundation as a global program and is now implemented in over 30 countries across the globe.

The program aims to help raise awareness of microfinance and its benefits in impoverished communities, create role models, and impact the economy as a whole.

Supported by Citi Foundation, the program has honored more than 100 Filipino microentrepreneurs around the country.

More than just a recognition program, it is community initiative that has built a strong network nationwide of outstanding micro business owners that serve as role models and mentors among microfinance clients. 

Citi works with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the Microfinance Council of the Philippines each year to scour the countryside for outstanding individuals deserving of this honor.

The Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards was a recipient of the 2014 Social Empowerment Award from the Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Awards - Southeast Asia and this year, also won a Gold Award from the Asian Banking and Finance.

Wanting to drive a social value chain, Citi invested in the establishment of the Citi Microenterprise Development Center where it can send the winners of the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards for training and personalized coaching. The center serves as a facility that trains hundreds of high potential microfinance clients each year by offering them a Grassroots Entrepreneurship Management Course as well as coaching and mentoring services in marketing, finance, operations, human resources and other subject matter of interest. After a successful pilot with partner Bayan Academy for Social Entrepreneurship and Human Resource Development, the Citi Microenterprise Development Center opened its doors to high potential microfinance clients in Metro Manila, expanding to rest of Luzon, and later in Visayas and Mindanao.



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