Standard Chartered has provided a microfinance loan of $1.5m to a Philippines-based Card Bank, a microfinance institution (MFI).

The loan will be used to strengthen Card Bank’s portfolio and branch expansion plans for 2010. This will benefit over 15,000 farmers, rural industries and small enterprises in the Philippines.

The loan is supported by a $500,000 guarantee from Women’s World Banking, the global network of MFIs and banks dedicated to women’s empowerment. The loan guarantee is part of Women World’s Banking’s strategy to promote the responsible entry of commercial capital into the microfinance sector to spur development of the industry and improve the access to financial services.

Prashant Thakker, global head of microfinance at Standard Chartered, said: “This loan is important to us as it is Standard Chartered’s first microfinance loan in the Philippines and in South East Asia. There is a vast opportunity in the region to support microfinance institutions and help them increase outreach and impact.”

Card Bank has over 360,000 active borrowers and an asset size of $44m.

Card Bank provides banking services to landless rural workers and offers non-collateralized loans to projects that are un-funded by the traditional banking sector.