Financial technology firm First Circle has renewed its partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to provide loans to more micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country amid the pandemic.
In a webinar, First Circle managing director Moritz Gastl said they now target to serve at least 10,000 customers from just 6,000 MSMEs since the memorandum of understanding was forged in October 2018.
Gastl said the first partnership disbursed 16,000 loans amounting to P4.5 billion.
“(We will) continue doing (this) even during the pandemic. Of course the pandemic has been challenging but at the same we also are excited to work with more and more MSMEs…,â€ he said, noting these firms are the backbone of the Philippine economy.
Gastl said that apart from providing funding, First Circle also focuses on educating these firms into its platform to help them connect to potential suppliers and buyers.
DTI Undersecretary Blesila Lantayona said the department and the First Circle have agreed to continue working together to provide convenient access to financial services to the MSMEs,
“Our Negosyo Centers and the Negosyo Centers that we are going to establish within the year and even next year will be one of the vehicles for this partnership,” she said
Under the first agreement, Lantayona said the DTI-First Circle collaboration has implemented various initiatives that promote reliable alternative sources of finance for various business needs, educate MSMEs on good practices for cash flow management, leveraging technologies to grow, and help them craft policies, programs, and projects for sustainable development.
In a pre-recorded video, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said they consider the renewal of the MOU not only beneficial but also an opportunity for the MSMEs given the effects of the pandemic.
Lopez underscored the importance of collaboration of the public and private sectors to help particularly these firms thrive post-pandemic.