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Amlan SLPAs: Empowered to empower others

“Dili lang kami ang na-empowered ani nga kalihukan, apil na sab ang among mga bana (This is not only empowering us, but it also empowers our husbands),” beams one of the members of the Pantawid Pamilya households in the municipality of Amlan, Negros Oriental.

Amlan is a 4th class municipality of Negros Oriental. It is composed of eight (8) barangays namely: Bio-os, Jantianon, Jugno, Mag-abo, Poblacion, Silab, Tambojangin and Tandayag. Located in the eastern coast of the province, fishing is its major industry. It also produces high value crops such as mango, coconut and sugarcane.

According to the 2015 census, Amlan has around 23,000 population of which, 922 are Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) partner-beneficiaries. Most of the members are plain housewives and some are engaged into small scale enterprises like food vending.

In 2016, there was an assessment conducted to the 4Ps partner-beneficiaries in the municipality. The result showed that these members earned around Php 150-200 a day which is not enough to provide the daily needs of a family. Given this situation, there is a need to implement a livelihood project for additional income.

In the first quarter of 2016, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) introduced the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) to the partner-beneficiaries. Jesse Jan. A. Plaza, SLP project development officer (PDO) assigned in the area organized the six (6) SLP associations with 93 participants. Out of 93, 10 are males and 83 are females.

On May 12, 2016, the DSWD granted a livelihood project with a total amount of Php 930,000.00 through the SLP Micro-Enterprise Development (MD) track Seed Capital Fund (SCF) to the six associations- Cañete Jantianon Pantawid SLPA, Poblacion Pantawid Livelihood SLPA, Mag-abo II Pantawid SLPA, Pantawid of Jantianon SLPA, Mag-abo Pantawid SLP and Pamilyang Pantawid SLPA.

The Cañete Jantianon Pantawid SLPA with 14 members received the amount of Php 140,000 for their individual business. Mag-abo II Pantawid SLPA with the same number of members also received Php 140,000, the Pantawid of Jantianon SLPA with 8 members received Php 80,000, Mag-abo Pantawid SLPA with 13 members received Php 130,000. The Pamilyang Pantawid SLPA with 19 members has received Php 190,000 and the Poblacion Pantawid Livelihood SLPA who has 25 members received Php 250,000. These associations are located 3-5 kilometers away from each other.


SLP members’ participation to Pantawid Rice Subsidy in the municipality

Implementation

Before they were granted with a livelihood project, Mr. Plaza talked to the members to create a union of the Sustainable Livelihood Program Associations (SLPA) in the municipality. He aims to bond these groups for a greater and wider reach of opportunities in sustaining their livelihood business.

With no hesitations, all members supported the proposal.

The implementation of DSWD’s Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP) in Amlan served as an eye opener to the members to pursue the union of the SLPAs. This provided them opportunities to expand their market and go beyond their individual livelihood projects.

This eventually paved the way for the members to conceptualize a strategy to be able to participate in the municipality’s SFP procurement activities. Yet, for them to participate, a substantial amount of financial capital is required which was considered to be the greatest challenge of the associations.

With this, the association members strongly advocate among each other the realization of the union of the six (6) SLPAs in the municipality. Hence, the United Organization of Amlan (UOA) was formed on June 20, 2016 as per DOLE registration.

In the 3rd quarter of 2016, a series of consultation meetings and general assemblies of the SLP participants happened. During these days, Mr. Plaza and Pantawid Municipal Link Jocelyn A. Balansag gave inputs on values formation, leadership, and other capacity-building topics to the members in order for them to learn and be confident in managing their livelihood project with authority and pride.

Since the program participants wanted to make their business venture to be successful, they elected their officers who would oversee the business operation.

Each member then shared 50% or Php 5,000.00 of the seed capital fund they received from DSWD to the organization to raise the start-up capital for their business. The other half or Php 5,000.00 would be used for their individual projects.

These efforts which are geared toward attaining sustainable livelihood for their families, the members strongly supported the organization’s plan for their business. The trust and confidence they have for each other have been strengthened.

In September 2016, the members’ contribution reached Php 465,000.00. Good enough to start their participation to the SFP. 

Handling 93 SLP participants is never easy. The road to reaching the goals are surprisingly demanding and challenging.

In October 2016, the United Organization of Amlan participated in the bidding of goods for SFP in the municipality. However, their participation failed due to non-compliance of bidding requirements. This failure in its first attempt gave them learning insights and served an inspiration to them to do better and be involved again in another procurement activities.

The organization is genuinely united in terms of giving support to the group’s plans and activities. Indeed, optimisms overflow for them to pursue what they have started.

In December 2016, on its second try, the United Organization of Amlan participated in the local shopping of goods for the SFP in the municipality of San Jose. Fortunately, they were awarded as supplier of meat and fish for the implementation of the municipality’s SFP from January – June 2017.

The group extended their efforts in other local government units’ bidding participation. On November 27, 2017, the municipality of Valencia approved the UOA as the SFP supplier of rice, meat, fish and other groceries for the children in Child Development centers. The activity was only for one (1) month yet they earned enough profit from it.

The group never stopped aiming for a greener path. Aside from participating in the SFP implementation, they were also engaged in providing catering services in the municipality of Valencia and its neighboring areas.

In the 3rd quarter of 2017, the UOA was awarded by the DSWD Field Office (FO) VII as the supplier of meals and snacks during the conduct of social preparation activities and Provincial Project Development Assessment in the municipalities of Amlan, Tanjay, San Jose, Manjuyod and Bindoy of Negros Oriental. Also, they catered food during the Amlan’s 2017 Women’s Month Celebration as well as Smoke-Free Awareness activities.

The organization’s livelihood ventures continue to expand.

In February to March 2018, they became the service provider of the Cebu Healthcare Professional (CHP) and DSWD FO VII for the meals of the SLP participants during the one (1) month conduct of Skills Training on Housekeeping NC II.

To date, it is the major regular supplier of rice to Pantawid Pamilya partner beneficiaries in the municipality for their rice subsidy.

Result/Impact

The efforts of all the members in the organization has paid off. Now, the group has its income generating business. Its participation to the Supplementary Feeding Program has opened the windows of economic opportunities, has honed their management and communications skills as well as strengthened the members’ bond and camaraderie.

The members with assigned tasks and responsibilities in the business operation were given Php 150.00 daily honoraria. The butcher takes the pig’s heads as additional share to the Php 150.00 daily honorarium.

This organization has also benefited other Pantawid households in a way that the members decided to buy hogs from them since majority of them are engaged into hog-raising. The organization has guaranteed of a livestock market at a reasonable price. Instead of buying some meat at the markets, the UOA would buy it from the Pantawid hog-raisers at a higher price than of the other local buyers. Thus, the middlemen can no longer come in and at the end of every production cycle, Pantawid members’ income is always guaranteed.

This activity created a chain effect of income augmentation to all participants involved, from the members who invested their financial and human capital to other Pantawid households who are engaged into hog-raising business.

Further, the organization’s catering engagements also created some job opportunities to the members. Service crew are paid at Php 323.00 per day while the cooks are paid at Php 500.00 per day.

To date, the United Organization of Amlan has generated more than Php 100,000.00 profit from all its livelihood engagements. It also acquired new physical assets such as freezer, meat grinder, cook wares, kitchen wares, utensils, food keepers and other kitchen items necessary for the business.

Lessons learned

Processing of documentary requirements to operate a business enterprise is a continuing challenge to the federation officers specifically to Ms. Meriam V. Yaeso, president of United Organization of Amlan. To address this concern, Ms. Yaeso attended orientations conducted by BIR and NFA. Mr. Plaza, assisted her on PhilGEPS Registration and continually provided technical assistance to the officers.

Recently, she was able to secure tax clearance from the Bureau of Internal Revenue. This clearance is a requisite for securing PhilGEPS Certificate (Platinum Membership) since the Blue Membership is no longer applicable. Thus, on December 7, 2018, the group already got the Platinum Membership certification of Philgeps.

In just few months from its conception, the United Organization of Amlan was able to secure the following documents: Business Permit, DOLE Registration, BIR Registration, PhilGEPS (Blue Membership) and NFA License.

Aside from the challenges of processing and complying with the legal documents, some federation officers also experienced conflict with their spouses when they would come home late due to concerns in the project implementation.

Also, the demand to deliver 90 kg of pork every week for the SFP is one of the reasons of their need to extend long hours of search for live hogs to be butchered. Their husbands complained that they can no longer attend to household chores and other demands in their homes. But, with the help of Family Development Sessions and counselling by the Municipal Link to the husbands, these conflicts were eventually resolved.

Upon recent conversation of the members to the officers, they shared that their husbands are no longer complaining. In fact, their husbands were the ones who did the household chores and attend to their children’s needs when they’re not around.

Implication for Replication

Financial capital has always been a major challenge in starting up a business. Yet, this challenge did not hinder the SLPA members’ desire to expand their livelihood project. By investing half of the seed capital for their individual projects, they had shown self-denial: abandoning their own personal interest but considering as well the welfare and betterment of the lives of other Pantawid partner beneficiaries.

The pooling of funds amounting to Php 465,000.00 paved the way to greater opportunities for program participants’ worthy of replication.

The effect of empowering the SLPA members is manifested by the changes experienced by the members and their families such as from being plain housewives to capacitated officers in the organization; from whining husbands to genuine helpmates; from merely focusing on income generation to opening doors of job opportunities to other members, and secured markets for small-scale livestock growers. All these cast light for possible replication of strategy in other areas in Negros Oriental.

The SLP Provincial Coordinator of Negros Oriental Rosana Coritico is constantly encouraging PDOs in other cities/municipalities to develop and capacitate SLPAs to be able to participate in the procurement activities of their respective LGUs and in due time, expand their livelihood projects.

The United Organization of Amlan is now recognized by the Local Government of Amlan as an entity, supplying goods and services to Amlan and to its neighboring municipalities. ###

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