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SALAYSAY: Rural bankers try carving niche in OFW market (Last part)

Bagasao said Ercof took the safer but slower boat by linking OFWs to 15 “stable” rural banks.

Data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reveals there are 648 rural banks in 75 provinces.

If some of these remittances are saved and invested in rural banks, Bagasao said these remittances can help generate jobs since rural banks are mandated by law to invest their income and offer loans in the rural areas where they operate.

An Ercof report wrote that these banks, including Bank Victorias, have a branch network collectively covering over-220 branches found in 44 provinces.

These banks have collective resources worth P149.4 billion, or 13 percent of the resources of the Philippine rural banking industry, the report added.

Have money, won’t borrow

LINDA said she participated in the dialogue with the rural bankers to know if she can make money out of her inheritance to bankroll her home renovation project.

Likewise, she also plans to put up a coffee shop.

Marivic Valencia said as an observation that ex-OFWs like Linda and wives of OFWs like her dive into business sans having the skills.

Marivic admits they need people who can become their financial coach.

She said the coaching that occurred during the dialogue organized by Bangko Kabayan in Batangas was helpful.

A bank manager, for example, advised Linda to open a one-year time deposit, send the money via mobile phone, and withdraw proceeds of her time deposit also through her mobile phone.

The manager’s additional advice: “If you want to pursue your coffee shop business, be visible to customers and be hands-on in the business.”

Bagasao said by advising OFWs and OFW families in their financial needs and aspirations, rural banks can remain stable and create a resilient customer base.

That is also expected by OFW family members like Shirley Buenaflor from Rosario municipality in Batangas.

Buenaflor dreams of running a business out of some savings coming from her Saudi Arabia-based husband’s remittances, but she doesn’t know how to run one.

Buenaflor told a Bangko Kabayan staff: “I hope you can help us every step of the way.”

“No other financial institution knows the needs of rural folk and could offer friendly and personalized services than grassroots financial institutions such as rural banks, whose management and staff live in the same neighborhoods as OFWs,” Bagasao said.

He says Ercof is optimistic the dialogues, which are part of the Bayaning Bayanihan awareness campaign of the consortium of 15 banks and of Ercof, will enhance the relationship between rural bankers and their clients.

According to briefing materials, the campaign will stress the strategic role of rural banks in countryside development.

Other institutions involved in Bayaning Bayanihan (www.bayaningbayanihan.com) include: Rang-ay Bank (Ilocos and Cordillera Administrative regions); Bank of Florida (Pampanga); GM Bank (Nueva Ecija); First Macro Bank (Pateros, Metro Manila); Bangko Kabayan (Batangas), Bangko Mabuhay (Cavite), Quezon Capital Rural Bank (Quezon), Camalig Bank (Bicol region); Bank Victorias (Negros Occidental), 1st Valley Rural Bank (Misamis Oriental and other Mindanao provinces), and Cantilan Bank (Caraga region).

Four other banks —One Network Bank (Mindanao island), Guagua Rural Bank (Pampanga), Xavier Punla Bank (Misamis Oriental), and Xavier Tibod Bank (Bukidnon)— are also part of the Ercof-coordinated consortium of 15 banks.

These banks have each designated an OFW desk officer to not only receive queries from OFWs abroad, but to act as the OFW’s financial consultant and planner.

The OFW desk officer can provide the portfolio customized to OFW concerns such as education, housing, health, or buffer fund for retirement.#