ARDCI NGO Group marks 18th year of fruitful existence in RP
posted 30-Sep-2018  ·  
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Now engaging services beyond providing microfinance to poor entrepreneurs, the ARDCI NGO Group, Inc. (ARDCI) celebrates its 18th year of fruitful existence in helping shape many lives across the nation.

From its humble origin as an agriculture-based support group under the Department of Agriculture in 1996, it has evolved into one of the country’s most reliable grassroots microfinance providers, earning ARDCI the honor of being chosen as GAWAD MFI 2016 Awardee of the Land Bank of the Philippines.

Now in over 17 provinces with over 126,000 members in 59 branches and almost P1.3-billion in loan portfolio, it continues to spread its wings of hope to strengthen the lives of the poor through its 5K initiatives: “Katuwang sa Kalusugan, Karunungan, Kapaligiran, Kalinisan, Komunidad” (Your Partner in Health, Knowledge, Sanitation, Environment and Community).

With ARDCIBank, Inc,, ARDCI Mutual Benefit Association, and ARDCI Corporate Inn as its subsidiaries, ARDCI has three main services: MicroFinance (Microbusiness Loans, Multi-Purpose Loans, SME/Refinancing Loans, Pension Loans, Honorarium Loans, Salary Loans), MicroSavings and MicroInsurance.

The Beginning

The ARDCI NGO Group, Inc. traces its roots to the original ARDCI, an offshoot of a five-year, medium-scale development project for Catanduanes known as the Catanduanes Agricultural Support Programme (CatAg), with the overall objective of assisting rural communities in the island province to initiate and sustain increases in income from all economic activities thereby reducing poverty.

Conceptualized by the Department of Agriculture and funded by the European Union and the Philippine Government, CatAg started its operation in 1995 and established the basis for a fully autonomous and viable rural financial institution of confederated Savings and Loans Systems (SLS), governed, controlled and managed by SLS members.

CatAg’s design has evolved since the initial Financing Memorandum was signed on June 22, 1993. CatAg’s original methodology was to adopt a micro-project (MP) approach in increasing its target participant’s income. The MPs assisted community groups with infrastructure improvement and income-generating projects. However, an EC Support Mission in September and October 1995 resulted in a shift to a so-called micro-business (MB) approach, with MBs financed through Savings and Loan System (SLSs). Trend showed off microfinance initiatives through new innovations into the sector. Solidarity lending transpired as a distinctive methodology, made famous by Dr. Muhammad Yunus at Grameen Bank’s lending experience in Bangladesh and India.

CatAg’s non-governmental arm, the Agricultural and Rural Development for Catanduanes, Inc. (ARDCI), was organized as an NGO on September 11, 1998, thus becoming a potential legal recipient of the project assets at the close of CatAg Programme in 2000.

Engaged in microfinance operation, ARDCI took over the credit component of Catag by January that yeat, with its efforts managed by a Head Office (HO) based in Virac and supported by five branches: Branch 1 – Bato Branch covering municipalities of Bato and Virac; Branch 2 – Baras Branch covering municipalities of Baras, Gigmoto and San Miguel; Branch 3 – Viga branch covering municipalities of Bagamanoc, Panganiban and Viga; and, Branch 4 – Caramoran branch covering the municipalities of Caramoran and Pandan.

In August 2010, it achieved its new organizational shift as ARDCI NGO Group, Inc. by virtue of its filing of amended articles of incorporation under the company registration number 1199800277 as attested by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Its Emergence as an NGO

In 1995, never was it known that an institution solely owned, managed and controlled by the rural poor of Catanduanes would come into fruition. As time went on, several fine-tunings and deliberations on the prospects of the Programme including its sustainability after the five-year program came in.

In 1998, representatives from eleven municipalities of the province convened in a consultative assembly to discuss options of the Programme after it closes its five-year development implementation. The institutional form that would serve as “catch-base” of CatAg had to be decided on.

The idea of forming a Non-Stock Savings and Loans Associations was conceived jumpstarting from the CatAg framework to make it a more sustainably managed institution and draw out external fund support.

Through the guidance of the Central Bank of the Philippines (BSP) as a registering and monitoring of NSSLAs, it was settled that an NGO would best satisfy this requirement.

Thus, ARDCI was granted its charter as a non-government organization (NGO) in 1998. Necessarily, it had to formalize a body known as the ARDCI Board of Trustees to serve as the elected representatives of the SLSs.

The formalization of ARDCI Board of Trustees as part and parcel of its NGO status paved the way at which Programme Management could open formal membership forum, and thereby encourage transparency of operations and aid important policy issues.

Beyond 2000

In the year 2000, ARDCI managed to operate sans the European and Government of the Philippines’ funding for the first two quarters. Its convincing operations gained the nod of three European Missions, the Global Review Mission II, the Credit Exit Strategy Mission, and Sustainability Mission for a formal banking institution, fulfilling ARDCI’s desire to professionalize its services to the public.

On October 8, 2002, ARDCI marked a milestone when it gained official approval in founding Vision Bank, Inc., a Rural Bank and originally one of ARDCI’s branches covering the towns of Virac and Bato. Vision Bank Inc. was the first microfinance-oriented bank established in the Philippines after the passage of the General Banking Act of 2000.

ARDCI Branches and Offices

ARDCI’s (and CatAg’s) success in Catanduanes can be gleaned from the groundbreaking opening of its Tabaco branch in Mainland Bicol in December 2002. The event was groundbreaking in the sense that it completely reversed the usual trend where development initiatives would usually come into the province from the mainland. Many of such initiatives were not even able to gain a foothold in the island before they withered away, funding and strategies and all.

But ARDCI held on, steadfastly breaking new ground, weathering storms inside and out, figuratively and literally. From its single Tabaco branch outside Catanduanes, it has eventually established 59 branches covering the mainland Bicol provinces of Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte; Southern Luzon with its branches in Quezon, Batangas, Laguna, Mindoro, Marinduque; and, Central Luzon with its footholds in Bataan, Pampanga, Zambales, Bulacan, Pangasinan and Tarlac. It had a total portfolio of P 1.1B and 115,000 members as of December 2015.

Today, it boasts of 632 employees in all its Branches and Head Office, with constant streamlining of its personnel complement taking into account its efficiency ratio vis-a-vis clientele served and magnitude of operations in areas covered.

Its Subsidiaries and Other Services

In all its branches, it now served more or less 100 scholars, and has already produced graduates from 2010 to 2015.

Between 30-35% of its income goes to its Corporate Social Responsibilities, paving the way for the establishment of the ARDCI clinic, regular medical missions, and other community development programs in 2014.

Through the combined efforts of the employees and its constituents, ARDCI established a Corporate Building in 2013 to house the NGO’s main office and the ARDCI Corporate Inn, another subsidiary of the organization.

A new affiliate, the ARDCI Mutual Benefit Association (ARDCIMBA) began full operation on Jan. 28, 2015, servicing the micro-insurance needs of ARDCI members.

Not resting on its laurels, the ARDCI NGO Group has among its long-term plans the establishment of a hospital, school buildings, and the ARDCI Foundation as it inches surely towards its vision of a nation without poverty, of people helping themselves achieve their goals through microfinance and the “bayanihan” spirit that is in every Filipino.

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