ASA Philippines grant 2.6-B humanitarian assistance to Filipinos

By Abdul Hannan  Magarang Tago

In 2010 while on leave here in the Philippines, I was introduced to Mr. Kamrul Tarafder, a fellow Muslim from Bangladesh, who is the head of the ASA Philippines Foundation. 

I visited his simple office at Ortigas Complex where I was briefed how the microfinance non-governmental organization works here. 

Muslim Filipinos pose with Kamrul Tarafder, ASA Philippines Foundation head. (Photo supplied by Abdul Hannan Tago)

It was  quite interesting to see a  Bangladesh as Chief Executive Officer and President of a Manila-based vibrant organization. 

Mr. Tarafder was an UN-DP official before joining ASA. I met hundreds of Bangladesh nationals in Saudi Arabia where I worked before. 

ASA Foundation headquarter in the capital has expanded hugely with nearly 10,000 staff around the country making it one of the largest NGO in the Philippines and Asia. 

The interesting part of the story is the huge success of the organization that benefited millions of Filipinos in terms of employment and the beneficiaries who were able to sustain their small businesses through an easy and trust-based loan. 

The success of this organization reflects the extraordinary leadership, business expertise and the Islamic-based financial theory of its CEO coupled with his humanitarian and social responsibility activities. He is a soft-spoken person who keeps utmost discipline among his staff while treating them as spiritual father. 

Recently. the foundation has received the first tranche of the credit facility from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) amounting to USD10 million, which it will extend as loans to over 25,000 women-entrepreneurs owning small businesses which suffer from the economic impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, according to a local newspaper.

Tarafder said his organization is the first and only MFI-NGO to receive a non-guaranteed direct soft loan facility from ADB in Southeast Asia, in the Asian lender’s history.

I have attended various events of this organization and I learned a lot of the strengths and successes stories behind its prosperity including humanitarian services and scholarship. 

This year 2020 alone, there are 2.1 million beneficiaries with an amount of Php703 million. The free services include burial assistance, hospitalization and scholarships. 

Reports said that since the start of the services, some 4.6 million beneficiaries were benefitted with a total amount of Php 2.6 billion.

Scholarship Privilege for Clients’ Deserving Children

Part of the Foundation’s long-term intervention to fight poverty is the Scholarship Privilege for Clients’ Deserving Children. As what the title indicates, the service is designed exclusively for children of clients. The scholarship is a cash grant amounting to PhP7,500 and is offered for tertiary 

The ADB granted the Foundation a USD30-million credit facility for micro-entrepreneurs from economically-lagging, environmentally-impacted and conflict-affected provinces in the country, the report said,.

Both ASA and ADB have agreed that beneficiaries of the financing facility will be existing clients of the former from the provinces in Leyte; Masbate; Samar; Zamboanga Sibugay; and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which will receive the bulk of the allocation for the loans. 

The women-entrepreneur clients must further be engaged in businesses considered essential during the pandemic, including sari-store operation; food production; and the sale of vegetables, fish, grain, and other basic household necessities

Though not part of its agreement with the ADB, the board of ASA has decided to offer part of this credit facility to be interest-free to help their clients recover from business losses brought about by the Covid-19 crisis. 

The interest-free finance loans are for a maximum amount of PHP4,000 per borrower, and may be settled in 20 equal payments within a 26-week or six-month period.

Meanwhile, the business finance loans are for a maximum amount of PhP16,000 per borrower. 

A single borrower may be able to receive a combination of both interest-free finance and business finance loans. (AHMT)

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