BAY, LAGUNA — The Social Security System (SSS) has partnered with a microfinance institution that manages a nationwide network of 900,000 women entrepreneurs as part of the pension fund’s intensified campaign to reach out to informal sector workers.

SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio de Quiros, Jr. said CARD Inc., a microfinance institution based in Laguna province, is SSS’ third accredited servicing partner agent after similar tie ups with two workers’ associations were signed within the past three weeks.

De Quiros and CARD Inc. Executive Director Flordeliza Sarmiento signed the agreement during ceremonies at the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development – Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD-MRI) Development Institute in Brgy. Tranca in Bay, Laguna on February 14.

“The fast expansion of SSS’ network of partner organizations reflects the growing awareness of the value of SSS coverage among workers, especially among vulnerable sectors that have no or little access to social protection,” he said. “Next on our agenda is to form similar partnerships with workers’ groups in southern Philippines, starting in Davao and Iloilo.”

Some 32,700 informal sector workers so far stand to benefit from SSS’ linkages with a farmers’ association in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija that was formalized last January 29 and with a diocese-run development institution for micro-entrepreneurs in Legazpi City, Albay last February 4.

Under the new agreement, CARD Inc. representatives can serve as conduits for its members’ applications for SSS registration, salary loans and funeral benefits. The set-up makes transacting with SSS easier and convenient and saves workers’ valuable time and money, de Quiros noted.

“Servicing partner agents such as CARD Inc. enable us to bring SSS services closer to informal sector workers, particularly those in rural areas with limited access to SSS offices. The agreements also help our partner organizations to look after the welfare of their own members,” he said.

CARD Inc., which aims to empower women and their families through microfinance, education and training activities, belongs to the family of social development organizations under CARD-MRI, a 2008 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Public Service.

CARD-MRI was founded by Dr. Jaime Aristotle Alip, who also serves as its Managing Director. CARD Bank Inc., which is also affiliated with CARD-MRI, was accredited as an SSS collecting rural bank in 2012.