With a part of the year designated as “typhoon season,” the Philppines gets regular practice in dealing with disasters. But nothing like COVID-19 has ever hit them before. Aris Alip, founder and CEO of the CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions, sent me a note to describe how they are responding.
Sorry for not responding sooner as CARD MRI has been very busy in executing measures to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. This has affected our 20,000 staff and 7 million clients.
Currently, the government has declared the whole of Luzon Island on lockddown, but since Local Ggovernment Units in Visayas and Mindanao took their own initiatives to lock down almost all provinces from March 15 till April 12. As a result, we have to declare a one month moratorium on client loans. Also, center meetings and other center activities were suspended under the social distancing mechanism. Majority of our staff had to go back to their families. A number of them have been trapped in their areas of assignment (unit offices/staff houses).
We are however, maintaining a skeleton workforce mainly in the bank branches for those functions can be done at home where ask to do so. Our CARD Banking composed of (CARD Bank, CARD SME Bank and CARD RBI) thankfully have adequate and advance digitization hence, many clients can transact their savings withdrawals or deposits thru our ATM. Digital Cash Machines and our bank agents.
Likewise, our insurance offices are continuously processing claims and renewal of insurance policies thru our technology.
Further, our BotiCARD (Pharmacy stores), laboratories and clinics are open to staff and clients and public.
This is indeed a difficult time especially smaller MFIs in the country. I am now helping the microfinance council of the Philippines by sharing our experiences on how to help staff and clients in these troubled times. Please help the industry in advocating the government to extend financial and non-financial support to the industry as liquidity will be a real concern.
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