ARDCI MICROFINANCE, INCORPORATED Profile
The ARDCI Microfinance, Incorporated, formerly known as ARDCI NGO Group, Inc. is a pioneer microfinance institution that has evolved since its establishment as basically a government-backed project through the Catanduanes Agricultural Support (CatAg) Programme under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture (DA). It was jointly funded by the Government of the Philippines and the European Union. It started as a five-year development program in 1995 with an overall objective to assist rural communities in Catanduanes to initiate and sustain increases in income from all economic activities thereby reducing poverty. With that, it had to establish 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. Through time, CatAg’s non-governmental arm, the Agricultural and Rural Development for Catanduanes, Inc. (ARDCI) was organized as an NGO on September 11, 1998 to give the former a potential legal recipient of Project Assets at the close of CatAg Programme. It has 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) on August 23, 2010. With the new Republic Act 10693 a.k.a. The Microfinance NGOs Act, ARDCI has again amended its name in 2017 to ARDCI Microfinance, Incorporated to comply with the requirements of the act.
ARDCI is an offshoot of a medium scale development project for Catanduanes known as the Catanduanes Agricultural Support Programme (CatAg), conceptualized by the province’s Department of Agriculture and funded by the European Union and the Philippine Government. CatAg, a five-year development programme of the Department of Agriculture (DA), the European Commission (EC) and the Government of the Philippines (GOP) started its operation in Catanduanes in 1995.
ARDCI is a non-government organization engaged in microfinance operation. It has taken over the credit component of the Catanduanes Agricultural Support Programme. With operations that started in 1998, ARDCI’s microfinance efforts are managed by a Head Office (HO) based in Virac, Catanduanes and was then supported by four branches comprising:
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
Branch 4 – Caramoran branch covering the municipalities of Caramoran and Pandan.
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 banking experience in Bangladesh and India.
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.
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. This was so because the institution wanted to professionalize its services to the public.
On October 8, 2002, ARDCI marked a milestone operation when it administered approval of founding Vision Bank, Inc., a Rural Bank and originally one of ARDCI’s branches covering the towns of Virac and Bato. Vision Bank Inc. is the first microfinance-oriented bank in the Philippines after 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. 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 grounds, weathering storms inside and out, figuratively and literally. From its single Tabaco branch outside Catanduanes, it has eventually established seventy two (72) branches covering the mainland Bicol of Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, provinces in Southern Luzon with its branches in Quezon, Batangas, Laguna, Mindoro, Marinduque and Central Luzon in Bataan, Pampanga, Zambales, Bulacan, Pangasinan, Tarlac, and in Samar and Leyte. It has a total portfolio of P 1.3B and 100 thousand total members as of December 2017.
Today, it boosts of 700 employees in all its Branches and Head Office. Still, streamlined personnel complement taking into account its efficiency ratio vis-a-vis clientele served and magnitude of operations in areas covered.
In all its branches, it now served more or less 100 scholars, and has already produced graduates from 2010 to 2016.
Its Subsidiaries and Other Services
30-35% of its income goes to its Corporate Social Responsibilities. 2014 paved its way for the establishment of the ARDCI clinic, regular medical missions, and other community development programs.
With the combined efforts of the employees and its constituents, ARDCI has now established a Corporate Building last 2013 which house the ARDCI Microfinance, the ARDCIBank, Inc., and the ARDCI Corporate Inn, another subsidiary of the organization.
Early this 2017, another subsidiary was opened, the ARDCI Prime Security Services (APSS), Inc.
Included in the long-term plans of the organization is the establishment of a hospital, school buildings, and the ARDCI Foundation.