Expansion of microfinance services in hard-to-reach areas : an outreach strategy of the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD), Inc.

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Southern New Hampshire University
CARD taking off with its Grameen-style micro lending in 1989 has been refining the methodology with the end in view of achieving the twin goals of outreach and sustainability. Adopting the new methodology introducing the ASA approach that was pilot tested in 2000 marked the beginning of CARD's fulfillment of the passion to create impact by providing greater number of clients--the 1 M client goal, easy access to resources. CARD has a rich experience in achieving the set goals and objectives. Its continuing innovations and development to provide a complete and stable package of microfinance services to its increasing client base enchanted CARD in its desire and commitment to expand the services to the hard to reach areas where such services is believed to be limited or totally unavailable. In 2005, CARD as an MRI joined force in executing strategy called the ConExIn 300--a strategy where CARD , Inc. was mandated to go for expansion to reach the 300,000 client base in the shortest time possible. CARD has then continuously established branches in areas identified with high demand for microfinance operation. In the same year, it opened its first branch in Visayas and in Mindanao. It even entered into partnership with a local MFI in the ARMM region as a new strategy for rapid expansion to an unfamiliar frontier. Moving forward to increasing outreach and keeping operation sustainable, CARD's goal involves pushing the frontiers to hard-to-reach and unserved areas particularly in Muslim Mindanao and the Visayas. Specifically, this project was focused on expansion in the southern frontier o f Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi and the Zamboanga del Norte. Generally, CARD's expansion strategy in Mindanao particularly in BaSulTa and Zamboanga areas is evaluated to be positively operative given the eight (8) months period of the project implementation. It has generally achieved its main objectives of establishing presence in the areas and operates branches to deliver microfinance services to the communities it served. Although in the course of the project implementation, unexpected situations and conflicts were encountered that somehow adversely redirected the project monitoring plan and resulted to constraint on the timing to meet other set objectives for the project. With the result and the experiences o f implementing the project, it is concluded that CARD is successful in its strategy o f expanding microfinance services in hard-to-reach and unserved areas. Except for the loans outstanding, performance indicators as parameters of evaluating results posted high accomplishment rating of above 90%. CARD has established presence in the municipalities and province as targeted. Eight (8) branches were set up over the project term. These branches provide access to financial and non-financial services to the 1756 total clients served, all o f them have savings that totaled to Php938,114 (USD19,960). Among these clients, 1513 have loans with a total remaining loan outstanding of Php3,510,297 (USD74,687). All of these clients are able to repay their loan consistently. (Author abstract)