ASHI was established in January 1989 by Professor Generoso Octavio as an action-research project in the College of Economics, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), with initial funding from Asia Pacific Development Center (APDC) in Malaysia.
Two years later, registered with the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a non-stock, non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO), ASHI gained the legal personality to enter into contracts and loan arrangements and to receive grants and donations from various stakeholders and agencies, both local and international, committed to the same goal of alleviating the worsening national poverty problem.
ASHI pioneered the Grameen Bank Approach (GBA) of Professor Muhammad Yunus of the Economics Department at Chittagong University in Bangladesh. This approach, which did away with the rigid requirements of the traditional lending agencies like banks, provided needful women direct access to non-collateralized loans to help augment their income, widen their employment opportunities, and improve their families’ lives.
Initially, ASHI operated in the neighboring communities of the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, Laguna, and then expanded around Laguna Lake through the other provinces of Rizal, Quezon, the southern part of Metro Manila, and parts of Cavite.
In 1995, ASHI began its expansion outside Luzon in the province of Antique in the Visayas. By 2018, it had already established, apart from those aforementioned provinces, various other branches in Aklan and Capiz. Through its sixty (65) branches, ASHI reaches out now to more than ninety-six thousand (96,000) needy families, most of whom reside in inaccessible areas. Remarkably, these families score a retention rate of 95% and repayment rate of 99%.
ASHI is one of the founding members of the Micro-Finance Council of the Philippines (MCPI) and the Micro-Finance Information and Data Sharing (MIDAS) Credit Bureau. Through the years, ASHI’s various training programs and various forms of service and products have been an exemplar for institutions, both local and international, that uses the Grameen Bank Methodology for their micro-credit programs.