The SME Unified Lending Program for National Growth (Sulong) is anchored on the belief that supporting SMEs in many aspects will translate into a healthier economy noting that 99 percent of business entities in the country are made up of SMEs, which employ 70 percent of the workforce. It is a financing program under the National SME Development Plan with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as lead implementor.
Sulong aims to lower the effective cost of borrowing by SMEs and liberalize requirements, create a wider financing system that will give SMEs better access to short and long-term funds and standardize lending procedures.
Under the program, SMEs get the necessary assistance not only in terms of financing but likewise through market exposure, human resource training and product development.
The Center for International Trade and Exposition Missions (CITEM) has extended support to SMEs through international trade fairs here and overseas.
Moreover, SME caravans and SME centers have also been organized and established to facilitate the delivery of services.
Among the Government Financial Institutions (GFIs) involved in the Sulong project, the Land Bank of the Philippines topped in the amount of loans released with P2.2 billion to some 2,550 SMEs.
After the Land Bank, the Development Bank of the Philippines came second with a total of P1.089 billion releases to some 192 SME borrowers.
Next was the Small Business Corp. (SB Corp.), with P192.75 million released to 152 SME borrowers; Quedan Credit Corporation (Quedancor), with P90.41 million to 6,406 SME borrowers; and the National Livelihood Support Fund (NLSF), with P34.25 million to 754 borrowers.
NAPC’s “Credit plus Five”
The “credit plus five” is an innovative micro-finance scheme referring to credit plus training, product development, market access, new technologies and social insurance.
The National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) is likewise setting up a mechanism to serve remote and conflict areas, and the basic sectors such as the elderly, disaster victims, and the disabled.
A total of 595,899 poor women have availed of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s loan program for micro-business enterprises in 2002. This represented an increase of 160 percent from 372,349 women-borrowers registered in 2001.
The program has greatly enhanced the economic rights of women.
The Department of Sceince and Technology (DOST)’s Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) is a technology transfer program that would respond to the needs of small and medium enterprises. It aims to strengthen the SMEs by linking up with other government financial institutions and seeing what additional funds can be accessed.
The DOST is implementing the program through its regional offices.
BSP and micro-finance
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has undertaken specific measures in promoting the program within the banking sector.
Both created under Circular 273, two micro-finance oriented rural banks , namely Vision and Banco ng Masa, and two micro-finance oriented thrift banks, Opportunity Bank and Microenterprise Bank, have 100 percent micro-finance portfolios.
There are now 27 cooperative rural banks and 85 rural banks throughout the country that have micro-finance operations.
The BSP conducts the micro-finance regional advocacy program, a series of information seminars held in strategic regions of the country to promote the development of sustainable micro-finance. This was launched in Cebu City.
SDC-CL’s Bridging Program
The Bridging Program approved by the Interagency Social Development Committee-Cabinet Level (SDC-CL) is a program that protects and empowers the informal sector which sidewalk vendors and street hawkers are part of, particularly in the areas of occupational safety and health.
The program also aims to make government more responsive to the needs of the informal sector. Funded by the United Nations, it will initially take off in Metro Manila.
“Isang Bayan, Isang Produkto, Isang Milyong Piso” program
Under this program, which has already been implemented in several selected towns throughout the country, a municipality will select its most important product to be financed by a P1 million loan from the national government.
A total of P758 million has already been released from the President’s Social Fund (PSF) as bridge financing for the program.