Wise borrowing paves future

Home Credit Philippines chief marketing officer Sheila Paul assumed a role of ‘removing the shame and stigma’ of borrowing money. | Photograph courtesy of Home Credit

Taking a loan should not be considered a bad practice as it is even an essential tool in life and business.

With financial institutions seeking inclusivity for Filipinos, a high-ranking official of consumer lending firm Home Credit Philippines, which has been in the country for more than a decade, said debtors must also be responsible for repayments.

Sheila Paul, the chief marketing officer at Home Credit Philippines, said her three years and eight-month stint at the company has inspired her to spread the benefits of responsible credit.

“Before Home Credit, I had been working in media, content, and entertainment. The role at Home Credit was an industry leap for me, and I accepted it to be able to challenge myself outside my comfort zone” she told DAILY TRIBUNE.

“I was also inspired by the company’s purpose of financial inclusion and the value of responsible lending/borrowing, things I wish I had experienced and learned in my early days as a breadwinner,” Paul added.

“I aim to remove the shame and stigma about debts, as long as you are working and living within your means, you can use credit to your advantage. Look for ways to save and augment income, with the rise of social commerce and online work, there are many opportunities out there,” Paul indicated.

Family’s breadwinner

Paul is the eldest of two children from an Indian father, who passed away when she was 8 years old.

“Both (of my parents) were from modest backgrounds. My father was a scholar while mom was a working student,” she narrated.

Despite the early demise of her father, Paul said he instilled in her life’s values.

“I learned the importance of a good education, hard work and ambition to rise above adversities. My mom was widowed when I was 8 and my sister 3, and took on the task of raising us, alongside supporting my grandmother and aunt. You could say I also learned the strength and courage of women through this upbringing, and I keep very close with my family to this day,” she continued.

With the help of family and her innate intelligence, Paul finished her studies in Ateneo de Manila, earning a degree in Bachelor of Science in Management.

Dream job

“My first job was as an accounting trainee in an advertising agency. Within four years I became the company’s youngest account supervisor handling the biggest clients. My dream job is to use my creativity and talent for communication to make an impact in people’s lives. (And) I believe I am doing that today,” Paul shared.

“Before Home Credit, I worked in media, content and entertainment. The role at Home Credit was an industry leap for me, and I accepted it to be able to challenge myself outside my comfort zone,” according to Paul.

Based on her LinkedIn account, Paul is a veteran in technology and digital services geared towards emerging markets, before her stint as the head of the marketing and communications group at Home Credit Philippines.

Among her early jobs was also being part of the start-up team that launched HOOQ, a video-on-demand service jointly owned by Singtel, Warner and Sony, in the Philippines.

Before HOOQ, Paul was vice president of New Media at TV5. She was part of the team that revamped the broadcast firm’s digital platforms.

She has worked with global mobile operator Telenor, based out of Malaysia and Norway, piloting digital products and services for Telenor’s Asian subsidiaries.

She was also a chief operating officer for Level Up!, helping lay the foundation for the Philippine MMOG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game) industry and creating the “Ragnarok Generation.”

Cool boss

As chief marketing officer at Home Credit Philippines, Paul is tasked with overseeing the planning, development and execution of an organization’s marketing and advertising initiatives, playing a vital role in a company’s growth and assuming important responsibilities.

Despite this, Paul remains down to earth and is easy to approach, according to her subordinates.

“People tell me I’m a ‘cool boss’ because I am approachable and willing to dig into the trenches with my team. However, I have learned to strike a balance between doing things myself and guiding the actions of my team members. I believe people will only learn with practice and experience, and I would like to think I am here to provide the support they need,” she said.

Asked about her dream for the company, Paul said “I look forward to the company’s continued growth, both to help people afford what they need and to build people’s consciousness about the value of responsible credit. I hope to reach our next 10 million customers.”

Not in a hurry

Despite her quick climb in the corporate ladder, Paul maintained that she still has a lot to learn, as Home Credit Philippines has ventured into a relatively new industry.

“This is a new industry and I still have much to learn about the business, so I am not looking for higher roles yet. There are still many opportunities I would like to explore within my domain,” she said.

Being with the company instilled in her the virtue of “not resting on your laurels, striving for excellence, and preparing for disruption.”

To date, Home Credit Philippines has onboarded 10.4 million Filipino customers, of which, 5.5 million are women, an over 50 percent mark.

In 2023, 560,000 women signed a loan contract with Home Credit, also over 50 percent of the 1.1 million customers they acquired as of that said year.

Paul said that during his studies last year on the financial behavior of certain segments, decision-makers who acquired loans were women, with an age range of 28 to 35 years old.

“On families, mothers are being consulted on purchases for loan applications. The study said 55 to 60 percent of women are buying cellular phones and gadgets such as laptops, followed by television,” according to Paul.

Retailers who offer Home Credit financing are currently at least 15,000, while their sales agents are more than 8,000 scattered all over the country.

For more than 10 years now, Home Credit has provided a total of P295.7 billion in loans granted to more than 10 million customers across the country through its installments, cash loans, and revolving credit products.

Guide debtors

Home Credit Philippines has been at the forefront of broadening financial inclusion in the Philippines for more than a decade since it opened its doors in the country in 2013. It has continuously provided innovative credit opportunities for Filipinos, especially to women, young people, and those earning less than P20,000 a month.

HC Consumer Finance Philippines Inc., Home Credit Philippines’ corporate entity, was acquired by Thailand’s Krungsri (Bank of Ayudhya PCL) and Japan’s MUFG (Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc.) in June 2023.