As part of the SME Financial Empowerment Program (SFE), UNO Digital Bank and Proxtera, based in Singapore, will teach basic financial management skills to 10,000 micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the Philippines.
This is a positive development toward reaching the millions of Filipinos who do not have bank accounts but would benefit greatly from learning about their options.
The 2021 Financial Inclusion Survey conducted by the Bangko Sentral ng Philippines found that 45 percent of Filipinos lacked the minimum funds needed to open an account, 40 percent lacked the necessary documentation, and 22 percent lacked the necessary expertise.
“When you piece all this together, the financial literacy penetration is very low because people haven’t really understood what it means to integrate into organized banking or have a relationship with financial institutions,” Manish Bhai, CEO of UNO Digital Bank, described the challenge. “We want to promote financial literacy as an entry point to the formal financial sector.”Manish Bhai, CEO of UNO Digital Bank
“SFE provides financial literacy credentials which is the first step in providing an important indicator of intent to pay,” affirmed Saurav Bhattacharyya, the CEO of Proxtera. “We are very excited to have this partnership with UNO Digital Bank in the Philippines which supports the core purpose of Proxtera: to serve MSMEs through financial inclusion.”Saurav Bhattacharyya, the CEO of Proxtera
The project’s convener, Amor Maclang, emphasized its significance, saying, “We need to illustrate that unbanked MSMEs without a digital identity can be given a digital identity and also a financial footprint through education.”
It is the goal of the SFE Program to make its courses available to MSMEs, hence they are significantly subsidized. Users who successfully finish the training will be awarded a digitally verifiable certificate. Users will also have access to a knowledge and tool portal geared toward the financial sector. What Proxtera has done, as Bhai put it, is create these programs that are not only useful but also entertaining and thought-provoking. Working together, we can ensure that enough people adopt these modules to make a difference.
UNO Digital Bank will provide further assistance to the MSME owners’ financial journeys by providing them with digital bank accounts and credit facilities when they have completed their training.
The staff of UNO Digital Bank got together in 2022 to discuss ways to improve people’s familiarity with money through classroom instruction. In order to better mentor the MSMEs, they considered creating their own training courses. The University of the Philippines (UNO) decided to work with Proxtera after learning about their SFE courses during the program’s introduction in Africa and Asia. The agreement was formalized at the recent Philippine FinTech Festival (PFF).
Almost two hundred government and business officials from around the world attended the PFF to help showcase ASEAN as a global innovation hub. Digital Pilipinas, the country’s largest private sector-led movement advocating for technological adoption, hosted the event in collaboration with Elevandi, an organization created by Singapore’s Monetary Authority (MAS) to encourage communication between the public and private sectors for the benefit of FinTech.
“The Proxtera alliance will undoubtedly help the business owners out there to use numerous financial products that will enable them to build their firm, and be lucrative and self-sustaining,” Bhai said.
“Our main aim as a company is to help MSMEs in financial inclusion—-which is where UNO Digital Bank is starting and targeting their customer base as well,” Bhattacharyya said in agreement.
He elaborated on why it’s so important to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), saying, “MSMEs contribute to a big percentage of employment in many nations.” As companies expand, so does their capacity to compensate their staff. MSMEs are the backbone of the economy and their success helps the entire community. Hence the country’s economy is more stable as a whole.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are essential to economic growth, and adequate funding and financial management are crucial to their success. Credit rating, financial investment, and other financial services are needed by MSMEs. According to UNO Digital Bank’s Chief Commercial Officer, Amit Malhotra, “offering it is our moral responsibility to them.”
After the MSMEs have graduated, UNO Digital Bank and Proxtera will move on to the next stage of the SFE. According to Guia Donido, head of the PTTC’s Training Division, the organization will keep accepting micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) whose primary challenge is gaining access to capital. Her follow-up question, “What do MSMEs typically worry about?” was illuminating. “More money, and lessons in how to make that money expand. The website’s educational modules addressed these concerns. From education and training to access to capital, this program has everything a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) needs.