TSPI hosted the first ever virtual leadership conference for the Alliance of Philippine Partners in Enterprise Development, Inc. (APPEND) Network on November 11 & 12, 2021. Over 800 leaders from various microfinance organizations across the country participated in the 29th APPEND Leadership Conference (ALC).
The challenges faced by the microfinance industry amidst the pandemic strengthened the bond and the brotherly love in the APPEND family. The ALC theme taken from Hebrews 13:1 which encourages everyone to “let brotherly love continue” aptly captured the message and the atmosphere that participants must experience and take away from the conference despite the pandemic restrictions. The ALC provided APPEND leaders an avenue for spiritual refreshment, leadership development and renewal of commitment to serve the poor. They were encouraged to persist in showing brotherly love towards their clients and co-servants in the industry. ALC deepened the love and solidarity among APPEND members and showcased best practices and opportunities for serving the clients better in the now normal.
The two-day event was split into six plenary sessions that were all focused on providing spiritual development and leadership enhancement for the participants – “Let Brotherly Love Continue”; “Bringing Food Security and Sustainability to Agricultural Households”, “Kwentong Tagumpay”, “Life-changing Leadership Lessons”, “Microfinance Industry Matters” and “Financial Inclusion Strategies with New Normal Processes of MFIs”. The roster of reputable speakers included key leaders from APPEND member organizations, government agencies, private sector and partner organizations. The insightful sharing, informative presentations and inspiring stories touched the hearts and minds of the delegates. On top of that, there were also fun and spiritually refreshing Bible games, virtual song-and-dance performances of talented APPEND leaders, mini-concerts from special guest artists and Spin-A-Love Gift sponsored by generous partners.
As a way of showing brotherly love to fellow APPEND members, key leaders from TSPI generously shared their experiences and lessons in serving God and the less privileged.
• Mr. Rene E. Cristobal, TSPI President, warmly welcomed the delegates in his inspiring Opening Remarks. He exhorted about the unchanging love of God and the brotherly love that APPEND members share with one another. Tying the two greatest commandments with Sambayanihan® (samba, bayan, bayani, anihan), he emphasized that the entire APPEND community is one family of individual members who are called to worship, to love God and one another and to serve as heroes of God’s kingdom. He concluded his message by reminding everyone that our hope is in God who is alive and who loved us even when we were still sinners.
• Mr. Alberto M. Malvar, a member of the TSPI Board of Trustees, shared how his upbringing and personal encounters with God since his youth planted the seed in his heart to love and serve the poor. As the founder of the Mount Purro Nature Reserve Foundation, Inc. (MPNR), he imparted the life lessons he gained from his journey with the Indigenous People – the Dumagat tribe in Antipolo, Rizal. He said “Ang isa kong natutunan sa mga Dumagat ay yung servant leadership. Pagkatapos ng adoption ceremony ko ng mga katutubo, may mahabang table na puno ng pagkain. Napansin ko yung mga matatandang Dumagat hindi lumalapit at kumakain, kasi sa kanila, yung mga lider, huling kumakain. Napakasensitibo nila sa pangangailangan ng ibang tao. Tapos wala sila masyadong concept ng private ownership. Lahat communal. Lahat para sa atin ito. Walang akin.” (One of the things I learned from the Dumagats is servant leadership. When I was adopted by the tribe, there was a long and bounty food table. I noticed that the elders were not approaching the table because in their culture, the leaders eat last. They are very sensitive to other people’s needs. They don’t commonly have the concept of private ownership. Everything is communal. Everything is “for all of us”. There is no “mine.”)
• Mr. David T. Bussau, TSPI & APPEND Founder, emphasized that it was God who chose and appointed the leaders to bear fruit. He learned that God looks at a person’s potential and that working with the poor is an invitation to do the same. He said, “God sees the potential in each one of us. In microenterprise development, when we loan to the poor, we loan to their potential.”
Outstanding TSPI Clients also graced the ALC with their life testimonies.
• Mr. Joymar D. Olarte, TSPI client from Urdaneta branch, Pangasinan who was the 2020 Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards winner for the youth category humbly shared his Kwentong Tagumpay. He shared how his perseverance and faith in God led him to succeed in his fried chicken business and enabled him to be a channel of blessings to his family, community and to his workers. Tatay Joymar was one of the three invited Citi Microentrepreneurship client awardees in the ALC.
• Ms. Elmy T. Medrano, TSPI client from Cabugao branch, Ilocos Sur, was recognized as one of the seven 1st APPEND Outstanding Client Leader Awardees. She was awarded under the Agapay Pamilya category for the service and leadership she demonstrated as a TSPI Center Treasurer and community Parent Leader of the 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program). The seven awardees were client leaders from different APPEND member organizations who modelled industry, perseverance, love, discipline and responsibility towards their co-clients, family, community and the environment.
The induction of the new APPEND Board of Trustees also took place during this event. TSPI Chairman Atty. Lamberto L. Meer led the Oath Taking Ceremony of the incoming APPEND Board of Trustees as they committed to continue leading and serving the APPEND community.
TSPI Executive Director Ms. Alice Z. Cordero passionately shared the symbolic meaning of the heart-shaped 29th ALC logo that TSPI especially created for this conference. She also expressed her gratitude to APPEND for TSPI’s opportunity to serve as the ALC host organization.
The 29th APPEND Leadership Conference was made possible by the amazing grace of God alone. Gathering hundreds of servant-leaders virtually allowed meaningful interactions and powerful messages to get across the minds and hearts of the delegates. It will serve as a vivid reminder to the APPEND family that the power of genuine brotherly love can overcome the biggest obstacles and that each one is called to let the love continue by serving others because God loved and served us first. To God be all the glory!
Testimonials from three Citi Micro entrepreneurship Awardees, “Kwentong Tagumpay”, namely:
1. Alalay sa Kaunlaran(ASKI): Ms. Florence A. Ao-wat (2020 CMA Special Award for Covid Response Champion), Business: Textile Weaving
2. Kabalikat Para sa Maunlad na Buhay, Inc. (KBMI): Ms. Ivy. I. Millare (2020 CMA Special Award for Covid Response Champion), Business: Pasalubong Center
3. Tulay sa Pag-unlad, Inc. (TSPI): Mr. Joymar D. Olarte (2020 CMA Youth Micro-entrepreneur of the Year), Business: Fried Chicken in Food Carts
Inspirational songs by a Papuri Artist, Mr. Larry Ilagan, “The Voice” singer, Ms. Alexia Tag-at and “Pillars of Fire” with Mr. Narciso A. San Miguel, added inspiration to the event as the participants enjoyed a virtual mini-concert. This was also coupled with dance performances from different APPEND members to the tune of “Tatak APPEND”. Participants also had fun with virtual games with Christian takeaways.