“Out of the Box” Green Banking Office


Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation

 
“Since it started its microfinance operation in August 2010, it already has 20 lending offices nationwide, 13 in Luzon and 7 in Mindanao, and is still looking to expand its network in various key areas across the country.”

INTRODUCTION

Rizal MICROBANK envisions viable and sustainable microfinance operations geared towards providing the Filipino enterprising low-income households and micro enterprises with quality, affordable, fast and easy access to appropriately designed financial products and services, thus spurring the growth of local economies.

The “out-of-the box” green banking office initiative of Rizal MICROBANK carries out the bank’s mission to support its environment-friendly and resource-saving initiatives. With this project, the bank opened its first Micro Banking Office (MBO) in Lipa City, Batangas made out of recycled container vans – a “first” for the banking sector in the Philippines. With a lower capital expenditure and faster fit-out timeline, the bank can hypothetically open one MBO every quarter targeting the rural and semi-urban areas.

FRAMEWORK AND STRATEGY

With the approval of the Central Bank of the Philippines and the senior management of RCBC, Rizal MICROBANK acquired the services of an architect from a prominent architectural firm, an experienced container van fabricator and a civil works contractor to undertake the construction of the 56-square meter Lipa Microbanking Office.

The convan office uses two 40-footer container vans that are securely locked on to eight concrete pedestals serving as the foundation. An elevated foundation is required to prevent rust coming from direct contact with the ground.

A double wall with foam-type insulation was installed on the walls and ceiling. The office is cooled with the use of two split-type air-conditioning units while additional shade is provided by a big acacia tree next to the office. An elevated slanted roof also ensures air-flow and prevents the pooling of rain water which could lead to rusting of the steel exterior.

To minimize the use of wood and ensure long-term durability of the office, gypsum boards were used for all interior walls and ceilings, and fiber cement boards were used for exterior walls, providing as well a look of permanence and stability.

ACHIEVEMENT AND IMPACT

Within a short period of time from conceptualization to the soft opening, the Lipa MBO was formally inaugurated. Its construction only amounted to approximately P 2.3 million, including all office facilities and security requirements compared to the usual P 4-6 million cost of a regular branch, thus ensuring cost-efficiency (a budget of P2.7 million had been allocated for the Lipa project). In addition, where it takes close to 6 months to complete construction on a regular branch office, the container van MBO fit-out can be done within 3 months, thus, allowing the bank to set-up offices in rural and semi-urban areas at a much faster pace. With a lower capital expenditure and faster fit-out timeline, the bank can hypothetically open one MBO every quarter and break-even operations can be achieved within 12 months from the start of operation.

FUTURE DIRECTION

The MBO in Lipa City is the first of 8 micro banking offices the bank aims to put up in the next few months in the South. Since it started its microfinance operation in August 2010, it already has 20 lending offices nationwide, 13 in Luzon and 7 in Mindanao, and is still looking to expand its network in various key areas across the country. Not only is the bank planning on setting up more convan microbanking offices, also in the pipeline are plans to set up convan microbanking offices that will use renewable energy (solar panels) to power the said offices, thus, completing the cycle making these offices truly “green banking” units.
Rizal MICROBANK is a subsidiary of one of the Philippines’ top universal banks, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) serving the microfinance banking arm of RCBC.