Microenterprise Access to Banking Services
The Microenterprise Access to Banking Services (MABS) Program is an initiative designed to accelerate national economic transformation by encouraging the Philippine rural banking industry to significantly expand microenterprise access to microfinance services. To do so, the MABS Program assists client rural banks in the Philippines to increase the financial services they provide to the microenterprise sector by providing microfinance technical assistance and training to rural banks. Trained banks in turn offer microfinance loan and deposit services specially tailored to microenterprise clients.
Since its inception in 1998, the MABS Program has worked directly with over 100 rural banks to develop and expand their microfinance services in the Philippines.
Significantly, there are over 750 rural and cooperative rural banks covering over 85% of the municipalities and cities of the Philippines. These banks are culturally and geographically close to the potential clients that comprise the microenterprise sector. It has been shown that limited access to financial services constrains economic growth in the Philippines. This is especially true for lower socio-economic groups, which must turn to moneylenders, pawn shops or lending investors for credit instead of formal institutions. MABS targets these lower socio-economic groups and microentrepreneurs by working with rural banks to reach such groups in a profitable, but equitable, manner.
The Program is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and is being implemented in partnership with the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP). Philippine government oversight of the Program is provided by the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo).