Low-Interest Loans Fuel Agricultural Growth in the Philippines
Jollibee Group’s social development arm, Jollibee Group Foundation (JGF), has joined forces with BanKo, the micro-finance arm of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), to launch a financing program that provides smallholder farmers under JGF’s Farmer Entrepreneurship Program (FEP) access to a low-interest loan product.
Empowering Farmers Through FEP
FEP is a comprehensive agro-entrepreneurship initiative that helps sharpen the technical skills and business acumen of farmers through training, mentorships, and technical and financial aid. FEP also links farmers to institutional markets, such as Jollibee, Greenwich, Chowking, and Mang Inasal, for increased and steady income.
Bridging the Financing Gap
“Our partnership with BanKo addresses the crucial need of our farmers to have access to loan products that will enable them to sustain and grow further their farming businesses,” said Gisela Tiongson, JGF President. Despite stable buyers and partners, FEP farmer groups often face challenges in accessing formal financing institutions and loans with low-interest rates.
BanKo’s Commitment to Agricultural Financing
“Formal financial institutions often consider agriculture ventures as high-risk investments since they are vulnerable to natural calamities,”
explained Rod Mabiasen, BanKo Business Head of Financial Inclusion and Microfinance Solutions.
“But we, at BanKo, are strongly committed to our mandate of providing accessible and affordable banking to more Filipinos. This partnership with JGF enables us to help overcome the barriers to agricultural financing.”
Low-Interest Loans Boosting Agricultural Production
The pilot phase of this program covers beneficiaries from onion farmer cooperatives, and the results are promising. Upon completion of the pilot phase, 100% of the farmer participants were able to repay their loans in full through their profits from the onion season.
Alexander Gomez, one of the program’s farmer partners, expressed the importance of capital for farmers to start planting.
“We’re very happy that JGF and BanKo have this project, which is a big help for us,” he said.
Mary Ann Casita, manager of the Onion and Vegetable Producers Cooperative, believes that low-interest loans will help cover the recurring business costs in agricultural production. She sees this initiative as inspiring more farmers to expand or return to farming.
As the Philippines further recovers from the pandemic, this program aims to provide farmers with the resources to improve their livelihoods and make them more sustainable.
BanKo reaffirmed its commitment to inclusive banking, providing support to microentrepreneurs and farmers.
“Our dedicated BanKoMares and BanKoPares will guide them in taking the first step to achieving their financial goals to help them secure a better future,” said Mabiasen.