Empowering Filipino families through sustainable livelihood

According to a Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” This couldn’t be any truer, for an effective way to help people live better lives is to empower them to provide for themselves.

Elizabeth Cuya, is an epitome of a hard-working mother who dreams of a bright future for her family yet restrained by poverty. The mother of three recalls her experiences when she and her husband Fernando was struggling to feed their family.

 “Ang dami na naming napuntahang lugar para subukan ang aming kapalaran. Tumira kami sa Bicol at Maynila, hanggang lumipat kami dito sa Batangas. Napakahirap ng buhay. Ang hirap sa loob ng isang ina na makita mo ang mga anak mo na umiiyak at nagugutom pero wala kang magawa. Wala akong malapitan. (We searched for our luck in so many places. We have been to Bicol and Manila until we transferred here in Batangas. Life is hard. It is difficult for a mother to see her children crying and hungry but you are helpless. I had no one to turn to.)

Originally from Bicol, starting anew in Batangas was a challenge for her family. They did not know where to start until Elizabeth met a member of the San Pedro Multi-Purpose Cooperative (MPC) and was convinced to join, knowing that the cooperative’s aim is to help their community. It was only when Elizabeth became a member of San Pedro MPC in 2013 that their lives started to change for the better.

Being part of the MPC, Elizabeth realized that still, there are people who are ready to help, and believe that they can succeed. “Sa wakas, may nagtiwala na sa amin, at may nagbigay na sa amin ng puhunan, (Finally, someone believed in us, and gave us seed capital)” Elizabeth said.

With only PHP5,000.00 as start-up capital and armed with only a pail and a tub, Elizabeth sold fish in a talipapa or a wet market near their house. Merely a year after she became a member of San Pedro MPC, Elizabeth was able to buy a tricycle which she used to deliver fish. By 2015, she bought two motorcycles for her sons and in 2016, she bought another tricycle to help her husband earn additional income.

From a monthly income of PHP2,000.00, she now earns around PHP10,000.00 to PHP15,000.00. Elizabeth now owns a fish stall, manages a sari-sari store, and sells sandals. The family has their own house and a new jeepney, which generated a job for her brother-in-law.

Elizabeth’s story is just one of the many stories of lives changed for the better through a sustainable livelihood program. There are many other stories including those  of Miraluna, a vegetable vendor, and Roxane, another fish vendor. These stories are a testament to the success of microfinance projects in helping families become self-reliant and move out of poverty.

The Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD), Inc., a leading microfinance institution, plays a major role in uplifting the lives of these individuals. Under CARD’s microfinance programs, the Aboitiz Foundation, the social development arm of the Aboitiz Group, is able to reach various cooperatives, even those in far-flung areas, and help them earn more. The partnership implements a Wholesale Program, which, already has a total loan disbursement of over PHP31 million as of November 2017 and benefits 27 cooperatives nationwide.

Under CARD’s Adopt-a-Branch Program, the Aboitiz Foundation has been helping microfinance units in Tiwi, Calinan, and La Trinidad, benefitting the branches’ 2,846 members. This program provides easier and affordable access to financial, micro-insurance, educational, livelihood, health, and other capacity-building services on top of the the microfinance loan packages.

We take pride in working with CARD for the Aboitiz Foundation’s enterprise development program. By increasing income and sustainable livelihood opportunities, our projects clearly translate our promise to advance business and communities by co-creating safe, empowered, and sustainable communities.

-Maribeth Marasigan, First Vice President and COO, Aboitiz Foundation

This program with CARD is the kind of partnership that the Aboitiz Foundation aims to realize — a partnership that is able to transform the dreams for better lives of Filipinos into realities by creating entrepreneurs out of thousands of cooperative members.

As the Aboitiz Foundation nears its 30th anniversary, it hopes to initiate more meaningful partnerships, especially among the Aboitiz business units, and influence leveled-up projects towards advancing business and communities.