The Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines and the Agence Française de Développement commit to financial inclusion of rural banks

Manila, July 9th 2021. The Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP) and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) signed a Grant Facility Agreement of 800.000 Euros, aiming at supporting the digital transformation of inclusive financial institutions, starting with rural banks.

Over the past eighty years, rural banks in the Philippines have played significant roles in fostering inclusivity towards markets underserved by traditional commercial banks. However, to remain competitive, they need to modernize and to do so adapt from manual to digitized processes to increase efficiency, reduce costs and serve their markets better.

© Ezra Acayan

This grant aims at financing technical assistance, comprising of training, capacity building, communication and awareness-raising activities, in order to support the digital transition of core-banking systems to the cloud, with a view to further financial inclusion of underserved and unbanked populations in the country.

This TA is provided in the framework of the global public policy reform of the financial inclusion sector in the Philippines and the implementation of the Inclusive Finance Development Program (IFDP), which materializes this ambition. AFD has been supporting
this program since 2019 alongside the Asian Development Bank (ADB), through a 100 million Euro sovereign loan of AFD to the Government of the Philippines.

The IFDP contributes to the overall objective of inclusive growth and sustainable development of the Republic of the Philippines, by supporting the development of financial inclusion of the population, especially the poor and the rural population. As such, the specific
objectives of the sectoral reform in which this partnership between AFD and the RBAP is embedded are to contribute to the consolidation of the institutional and regulatory environment, the improvement of financial infrastructures and the capacity building of financial services providers, and the supervisors and regulators.

“RBAP is thankful for the support and trust that AFD has given to our Association. As the President for FY 2020-2021, one of my goals is to help rural banks especially the small ones to digitize and capacitate them through different programs. Through this partnership, this goal is finally realized. We look forward to working with AFD to create capacity-building programs tailor-fitted to the needs of the rural banks for us to be able to compete at par excellence with the other financial institutions in the country,” expressed by Ms. Elizabeth Carlos-Timbol, President of the RBAP.

On this occasion, Mr. Laurent Klein, AFD country director in the Philippines, said, “AFD is very pleased of the partnership concluded today with the RBAP. With a wide range and diversity in size and activity levels, rural banks remain in a unique position to extend the
reach of financial services in rural areas. In line with our organization’s strategic objectives to support financial systems and fight social and economic inequalities, this technical assistance will contribute to promote access to quality digital financial services for all, including the most vulnerable part of the population. This agreement also marks a major step forward in our collaboration with the ADB to support inclusive finance in the Philippines.”

French Ambassador to the Philippines and to Micronesia, H.E. Michèle Boccoz emphasized, “France is proud to support, through AFD, strategic reforms of the Government of the Philippines in digital transformation and inclusion in the financial sector to the benefit of the Filipino people. This is a further milestone in the bilateral relationship between our two countries. The Covid-19 pandemic is disrupting our societies and leads us to consider radical shifts in our usual modes of economic and social interactions. We believe that this program through the AFD and RBAP partnership will help pave the way to resilience and recovery especially of disadvantaged Filipinos in the rural areas.”

About the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP)
The Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines currently has 412 rural banks with more than 2,500 branches mostly situated in the countryside and provides employment to 22,000 employees. Its commitment is to develop rural economies and to promote community enterprise development through good service and sound practices to drive financial inclusion for ALL.

Tagged as the main channel of financial inclusion, RBAP is focused on uplifting its members through capacity-building programs and partnership agreements with other institutions that advocate strengthening the rural banking industry. As a major force in ushering economic development in the country with unique products such as microfinancing for rural sectors, particularly farmers, fisherfolk,
and small enterprises, and savings programs to assist communities in building their financial security, we provide essential financial services to the most marginalized sectors of society.

About the Agence Française de Développement (AFD)
Agence Française de Développement (AFD) implements France’s policy on international development and solidarity. Through its financing of NGOs and the public sector, as well as its research and publications, AFD supports and accelerates transitions towards a fairer, more resilient world. It also provides training in sustainable development (at AFD Campus) and other awareness-raising activities in France.

With our partners, we are building shared solutions with and for the people of the Global South. Our teams are at work on more than 4,000 projects in the field, in the French Overseas Departments and Territories, in 115 countries and in regions in crisis. We strive to protect global public goods – promoting a stable climate, biodiversity and peace, as well as gender equality, education and healthcare. In this way, we contribute to the commitment of France and the French people to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Towards a world in common.

Contact: AFD – Charlotte Le Layo – Regional Communications Manager – – +66 92 965 8549