November 22, 2012
ASKI wins in European Microfinance Award
The Alalay Sa Kaunlaran, Inc. (ASKI), a non-government organization based in the Philippines has added another feather to its cap for winning the 4th European Microfinance Award held recently in Luxembourg. The awarding ceremony is one of the highlights of the European Microfinance Week.

With the theme Microfinance for Food Security, ASKI presented its initiatives supporting the Philippine agriculture. According to the organizers, this year’s theme focuses on microfinance efforts which contribute to improving the supply of safe and better quality food and distribution conditions in developing countries.

ASKI bested applications from 15 countries from Latin America (50%), Africa (30%) and Asia (20%). After the intensive selection process, the high jury chaired by Prof. Muhammad Yunus, president of the Yunus Centre and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner, the application was narrowed down from ten to three finalists.

Among the three finalists were ASKI from the Philippines, Banco FIE from Bolivia and Kompanion from the Kyrgyz Republic. ASKI won the much coveted award for its micro-credit initiatives to improve food security, strengthening of the value chain development, increase yields and empower farmer communities.

In a press briefing, Rolando B. Victoria, ASKI executive director said, "Today, almost 19,000 farmers are benefiting from our agricultural loan program, which are making a valuable contribution to the needed food security initiatives in our country."

“We are honored to receive this recognition and this will serve as our inspiration to continue our efforts and develop more products for our clients. We will use the funds to invest in further opportunities for the farming community which would provide them with additional sources of income to sustain the daily needs of their family,” Victoria added.

For the last 25 years, ASKI has been eagerly serving Filipinos to reduce poverty in areas of its operation. With the recent award, ASKI has made the Philippines proud being the first ever microfinance institution to win in this competition.

For its food security initiatives, ASKI started the value chain financing for agriculture. Farmers were linked to manufacturers like San Miguel Corporation and Jollibee Foods Corporation for their produce. This is the reason why, farmers are assured of higher income.

Farmers were also given irrigation facilities like movable water pumps in non-irrigated areas of Aurora, construction of hanging bridges for easy transport of the farm produce, multi-purpose drying pavements to dry their harvests. With this project, farmers will no longer use the roads in drying their palay. This traditional highway drying contributes to significant postharvest losses and affects the quality of the produce.

Infrastructure support is not only the priority of ASKI. Farmers also need to be attuned on the recent developments in the agriculture sector. Resource persons from both the government and the private sector were tapped to train clients on different agricultural techniques that can help them in their farming activities.

Asked why focus on agriculture, “we believe that agriculture is one of the country’s strength in facing its economic difficulties and because of the vast opportunities in the local and global market,” Victoria explained.
Prof. Muhammad Yunus, president of Yunus Centre and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize congratulates ASKI Executive Director Rolando B. Victoria for winning in the 4th European Microfinance Award held recently at the European Investment Bank Headquarters in Luxembourg. Looking on is Her Royal Highness the Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg who also handed the Certificate of Achievement to ASKI.
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