The local government unit of the Philippines’ premier tourist destination finds another ally in its efforts topreserve its ecosystem and promote environmental sustainability.
BPI Globe BanKO, the first and only mobile-based, microfinance-focused savings bank in the country, ventured into a tripartite agreement with the LGU of Malay, Aklan and Gerweiss Motors Corporation to finance the purchase of electric tricycles or “e-trikes”. Certificates of credit line approval were recently granted by BanKO to the first batch of tricycle operators in Boracay.
The e-trike project is an initiative of the LGU of Malay headed by Mayor John Yap, who conceptualized the idea of turning Boracay into an “e-trike island” as early as 2010. The project will not only increase profitability for tricycle drivers and operators, but also drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions on the island.
10 e-trikes from Gerweiss Motors have been ferrying tourists around the island since December 2011. The durability of the e-trikes, which are made of fiberglass and specifically built for Boracay’s terrain, has been proven as all units remain fully operational to this day. The Boracaye-trike was developed by Gerweiss Motors, headed by its president and CEO Gerard Villoria, with the needs of the island’s tourists in mind. The e-trikes can seat 10 passengers, and are spacious enough to accommodate heavy loads such as luggage and water sports equipment.
Malay LGU, BanKO and Gerweisscollaborated to design an ecosystem that includes a fleet management system, a battery station and a maintenance hub.
BanKO’s participation involves granting loans for Boracay’s tricycle operators, as well as loans for battery stations. With this, the operators will be able to comply with the LGU’s policy to replacefuel-powered tricycles to the energy efficient e-trikes that reduce air and noise pollution.
BanKO has been at the forefront in providing financial inclusion to the lower income classes, offering loans to microentrepreneurs in order to raise additional capital for their businesses in cooperation with microfinance institutions.
BanKO President Teresita B. Tan explains, “While financing for electric vehicles may be viewed as risky because its use is not yet widespread in the Philippines, BanKO is committed to its partnership with the local government and Sangguniang Bayan of Malay, Aklan because we support their goals and objectives towards environmental sustainability.Boracay is also the ideal community to pilot this project as we plan to replicate it in other places.”
BanKO VP for Emerging Markets Gigi Gatti adds, “This partnership banks on the strengths of each implementing partner – Maly LGU for its policies and incentives, Gerweiss Motors and its technology partners Toyota Tsusho Asia Pacific and Singapore Technologies for their expertise in e-trike development, and BanKO for its innovative financial products. Eventually, we plan to expand our sustainable energy financing projects to business establishmentsin Boracayto help them save on energy costs.”
The Malay LGU maintains a very strong positioning on “greening” the environment and the move to replace Boracay’s536 tricycles with e-trikes is viewed as fully complementary to the tourism business, as more tourists flock to destinations that actively promote eco-tourism.
Mayor Yap has always been vocal about pursuing his vision for Boracay as the first major tourist destination in the world to become an “e-trike island.”
“More of our tricycle operators will be able to own an e-trike with the help of BanKO. Because these vehicles are energy efficient, their income will be higher and they will have a better quality of life, as it is more economical to power an e-trike than a petrol-fuelled tricycle,” Mayor Yap says.
Sangguniang Bayan-Malay’s e-trike committee chairman Hon. Dante Pagsuguiron agrees. “In the policy that we have drafted, we plan to gradually phase out all conventional tricycles and replace them with e-trikes by 2015. We will also be giving incentives to the first 100 operators who will participate in the e-trike program and we hope that in the coming months, there will be more operators who will be be able to secure a credit line from BanKO.”
The Malay LGU, BanKO andGerweiss Motors look forward to the success of the e-trike program. “Hopefully, our program will become a model for other communities in the country,” Mayor Yap concludes.
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