We are a founding investor in and operating partner of Bridge Philippines, created in 2013 to foster the growth of provincial banks that serve clients who lack access to formal financial services. Co-investors include the organization’s founders, Paul Kocourek and Gus Poston, and investors Bamboo Finance, DEG, and FMO. Bridge aims to invest in and provide capability building services, to a core group of provincial banks, with the goal of building regional champions throughout the country. Capacity building services include: corporate governance, product development, risk management, treasury management, internal controls, staff development, and incentive system design. Through these banks, Bridge hopes to create employment opportunities by providing loans to businesses, farmers, and individuals living in poverty.
Since its creation, Bridge has made a significant investment in First Valley Bank in Mindanao. First Valley is one of the largest rural banks in the Philippines, with an extensive branch network throughout Mindanao and expansion into Visayas. Bridge’s investment in First Valley has been accompanied by technical support in key areas, including the strengthening of internal capacity, core banking systems, and improvements in product offerings.
In the future, Bridge plans to expand its network through further investments with an eye toward bolstering small and medium enterprise (SME) lending, agricultural lending, and electronic loan disbursement.