“Turning Self-Help Groups into Successful Entrepreneurs”

“What? We are going to SM Megamall, are you sure?” – delightedly exclaimed the participants to the “Knowledge Learning Market 3” with a theme on “Rural Poor Amidst Crisis” when informed that they will participate and share testimonies and learnings on their successful implementation of their poverty alleviation funded sub-projects on hogs, commercial-scale native chicken raising, ethnic handicraft, goat raising, and convenience store operation.

Enthusiastic and filled with excitement, the session started with the sharing of Charito Cadorna, the NMCIREMP-PFO Project Economist on the project background and highlights and technical facilitation, project intervention and processes of the Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF) and on mechanisms on scaling-up of livelihood projects to suitable, eligible and sustainable agri-/rural enterprises and the way forward for these community initiatives. This was followed by a sharing of testimonies by Felita Banjao, an SHG Leader of Barangay San Martin, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur. The highlight of her sharing is on the difficulties in the initial start-up and establishment of the project and strict adherence to agreed standards. But in the end it strengthened the operations and implementation of their livelihood projects. Another personal testimony was given by Orlando Bonita, Chairperson of the Community Institution in Barangay Mahayahay, Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte which focused on challenges in keeping the livelihood project free from any forms of interventions. The final sharing was given by Raul del Agua, Municipal Project Manager of Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte who stressed and reiterated that the local government units are mandated to provide support and services to covered communities. He further stressed that their municipal government is ready to sustain the project gains and benefits of NMCIREMP target sectors.

There were questions raised by several participants such as a question from ANGOC on a) where the PAF will go be if extended and what were the effects to the members and LGUs from the PAF sub-projects; b) from WMCIP, are the members ready for loans; and c) from PAKISAMA, what are some activities being conducted? To these questions the presenters elaborated that a) the PAF sub-projects will expand
to more enterprises; b) yes, they are now starting on lending activities but still at lesser amounts; and c) activities conducted are on agro-forestry, root crop and vegetable production, tree farming, convenience store operation and commercial scale native chicken production. As a whole, the session added learning posts for both presenters and participants on how does one turn a simple livelihood into becoming a thriving business enterprise from an initial capitalization of 2,000 pesos per household resulting to household incomes for food, school and health needs of family members, clothes and new investments to improve further their productivity.

Most importantly, were lessons learned on strategies for sustainability where tripartite commitments were generated to sustain project gains and benefits from among the local government units, government agencies and community institutions.

The participation of other project stakeholders to this session who were Evelyn Nonato, Municipal Project Manager, Prosperidad, Jessica Unson, Provincial Project Coordinator, Agusan del Sur, Rofel Cabaltera, Provincial Project Coordinator, Agusan del Norte, Mayor Aristotle Montante, Kitcharao, and Governor Maria Valentina G. Plaza, Agusan del Sur was made possible through the “Northern Mindanao Community Initiatives and Resource Management Project (NMCIREMP)”, a project assisted by the IFAD; executed by the Department of Agrarian Reform; supported by the Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples; in collaboration with government agencies, their respective local government units, NGOs and community institutions; and facilitated through the Project Facilitation Office (PFO).

The session was facilitated by the IFAD-trained KFs Evie Elago of DAR-NMCIREMP and Amina Bidin of DAR-WMCIP whose experience in knowledge management took a step further in their journey as Knowledge Facilitators of KLM 3.

By: Badeen Verora, NMCIREMP & Robert Domoguen, CHARMP2