Small businessmen shun '5-6' debt traps with BPI's BanKo

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 12 2019 03:14 PM | Updated as of Mar 12 2019 04:57 PM

A cassava cake shop in Los Banos Laguna that is built using a loan from BPI unit BanKo is shown in this photo taken on March 12, 2019. Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

LOS BANOS, Laguna -- Cassava cake vendor Nenita Mamaril crawled out of a debt hole from "5-6" lenders and now runs one of the more popular stores in this town, as lenders like BPI unit BanKo expand.

BanKo opened its 200th branch in this town on Tuesday, with plans to open up to 100 more, giving small businessmen like Mamaril the chance to borrow up to P300,000 with just a Mayor's or barangay permit and a valid ID.

"Hindi kami makapasa sa standards so saan kami kakagat? Eh di doon po sa 5-6 isang araw lang," Mamaril said, recalling her experience with a large bank.

(We didn't pass the standards so where will we turn to? To 5-6 lenders who approve in a day.)

"Pero ang laki po ang tubo 20 percent, doon na lang napupunta ang kinikita," she said.

(But the interest is so big at 20 percent and eats up all our earnings.)

Mamaril got her BanKo loan in Los Banos in a week, which she used to refurbish her shop.

BPI unit BanKo opened its 200th branch in Los Banos, Laguna on March 12, 2019. Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Clients of two-year-old BanKo can pay as little as P300 per day for a P50,000 loan, said bank president Jerome Minglana.

"We felt that there is a need for this service in this segment that's why we're expanding," he said.

BanKo plans to help extend loans to 83,000 entrepreneurs this year from 45,000 in the last 2 years, and to double its loan portfolio to P7 billion from P3.3 billion.

The lender will open branches in Luzon, Visayas and will add about 15 in Mindanao to reach more communities with no formal lenders, said Rob Mabiasen, head of Microenterprise Loan and Branch Network for BanKo.