It all started with a shaky two-minute video shot with a smart phone three years ago. It was in 2011 when Bam Aquino (Paolo Benignoo Aquino), Hapinoy’s co-founder, set out with a couple of our staff to film our video entry for the Project Inspire: 5 Minutes to Change the World competition organized by Singapore Committee for UN Women (UN Women Singapore) and MasterCard.
Honestly, it felt like we were shooting for the moon. We knew that hundreds of other amazing social enterprises in Asia were also submitting their own videos. However, we persisted because for us, it was an opportunity to embark on a fun and exciting adventure, and a platform that enabled us to share our journey with people and organizations that are equally passionate about bettering the lives of disadvantaged women and girls. But little did we know that this two-minute video would pave the way for years of partnerships, impactful projects and many lives changed.
Today, our partnership with MasterCard has passed its third-year mark. It’s surreal to think that it has been three years of our shared passion and mission to empower Nanays (mother) micro-entrepreneurs, enabling them through financial literacy and business skills programs to better manage and grow their sari-sari stores or home-based retail stores. Nanays usually set up these stores with loans from microfinance institutions (MFIs) to help meet their family’s financial needs. However, many of these micro-entrepreneurs lack the financial and business know-how. With the right business skills and financial knowledge, these stores have the potential to grow and become sustainable family businesses.
In the first year of our partnership, MasterCard’s grant (from Project Inspire 2011) enabled Hapinoy to extend our reach by supporting 150 Nanay micro-entrepreneurs in the South Luzon Region. Just a mere three months into the program, these sari-sari stores had begun to evolve into viable and reliable enterprises for the Nanays and their families. Those who were able to develop the habit of daily recordkeeping and proper cash flow management – skills taught during the training program – showed considerably better results. Their businesses experienced significant increase in sales, greater financial resiliency against credit lending from customers (a recurring problem for most sari-sari stores) and a much higher credit-rating from the MFIs who assessed them after the program. With a stable and reliable source of income, the Nanays had access to bigger loans via MFIs which they could then use to further expand their stores or to capitalize on new business opportunities.
Continuing their commitment to the Hapinoy program in the second year, MasterCard supported another 600 Nanays in the Bicol region where many were looking for opportunities to improve their lives. With twice as much of the first year’s grant, Hapinoy was able to scale-up our operations and reach four times more Nanays in its second year.
Those two years were filled with countless success stories of Nanays feeling increasingly empowered, both as a mother and as a business woman. One of them is Nanay Maribel Tolentino who not successfully expanded her store but was also able to bring her family closer through their business. When asked about their feedback on our programs, the Nanays shared that the financial knowledge and business skills they received from the program allowed them to achieve their dreams both as an entrepreneur and a mother and this, for them is a gift that is truly priceless.
As we entered the third year of our partnership last year, we strove to continue what we have started and push beyond what we have done in past years. Evolving from our goal of financial literacy, MasterCard and Hapinoy are progressing to meet a new challenge together – furthering financial inclusion for the unbanked through mobile technology. Training Nanays and other micro-entrepreneurs, Hapinoy will enable them to utilize mobile technology to improve their lives and businesses. Through these mobile literacy programs, we hope that more and more people will be engaged in mobile money, making financial services available even to the most rural of communities.
With MasterCard and our Hapinoy Nanays, we continue to hope for and work towards a better Philippines and a better world.