PALFSI’s Inspiring Road to Recovery

by Angelo Naidas

palfsiPeople’s Alternative Livelihood Foundation of Sorsogon, Inc. (PALFSI) started its microfinance operation in 1997, servicing the rural areas of Sorsogon. By 2003, the organization experienced growth with outreach of 10,000 clients in 15 municipalities in the province of Sorsogon.

In 2005, PALFSI partnered with Ayudahan Livelihood Foundation of Zamboanga (ALFZI). The two organizations pooled in investments for the microfinance program that operated in Zamboanga. At first, the partnership had promising results but natural calamities and mismanagement resulted to a crisis that almost closed down PALFSI’s and ALFZI’s operations. The microfinance operation in Zamboanga was not able to address delinquency problems. ALFZI eventually left the partnership. This left PALFSI to take over the entire operations and settle obligations with donors and funders.

Since then, the institution went on a downward spiral. The operational losses incurred in Zamboanga forced them to write off a significant amount of their outstanding portfolio. The write-off together with bloated liabilities led to technical bankruptcy in PALFSI’s books. This is means that liabilities are larger than assets and there is large likelihood that the organization may not be able to fulfill its obligations to funders if drastic measures are not taken.

SEDPI started the rehabilitation of PALFSI in 2013. Through SEDPI’s organizational appraisal, a series of interventions was strategically planned out to turn the institution around. The main intervention for the institution focuses on stabilizing its financial performance. To do this, SEDPI along with PALFSI management set up a meeting with their creditors to negotiate and restructure its current obligations. The result of the negotiation was a success as PALFSI’s external creditors agreed to a two year moratorium which gives PALFSI enough time to recover and eventually pay their external debts. The other interventions conducted to complement PALFSI’s recovery and institutional growth includes, strategic planning, financial management, human resource development, client selection, internal controls, and product development.

Since then, PALFSI has been experiencing gradual improvement with its financial performance. It posted a positive net income in 2014 after experiencing three straight years of net losses. PALFSI is also has enviable Portfolio at Risk (PAR) ratio which hovers between 0-2% throughout 2015 and early 2016. SEDPI established milestones to PALFSI and when it achieved these milestones. SEDPI Development Finance, Inc. (SDFI) released loans to enable PALFSI to expand and grow its portfolio.

The PESO rating of PALFSI significantly improved since SEDPI started its interventions with them. PALFSI’s current PESO rating improved to 72 points out of a possible score of 100. In 2013, PALFSI’s PESO score is only 45. The PESO rating is a scale used in the microfinance industry to describe performance of microfinance institutions. With this pace, PALFSI is set to attain positive equity by June 2016.

This is proof that with the right capacity building program and appropriate financing strategies, SEDPI can turnaround organizations so that they can continue benefitting the poor.