Sustainability ‘key’ in livelihood programs-A A +A
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
WITH sustainability as the main goal of livelihood programs, accessibility to a ready market should be the first thing to consider before deciding to partner with communities, said an official during the National Livelihood Convergence held last Monday at the Ecotech Center in Barangay Lahug, Cebu City.
Cris Evert Ruffolo, program officer of the Strategic Corporate Community Partnership Program (SCOPE) for Local Development Program of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), said that adopting the “non-traditional” livelihood programs is a more sustainable practice.
She described the non-traditional method as looking primarily into “the needs of the market or companies, and understanding their industry standards first before asking and equipping the communities to produce the need.”
In contrast, Ruffolo said the traditional method of livelihood programs are done starting with a foundation who immediately conducts skills training to a community without identifying the market beforehand.
“The problem is not with the market because we really have the market. The problem is what is really the product that the market needs?” said Ruffolo.
She said she has seen several communities that have become “frustrated” after getting involved with livelihood trainings because the trained participants do not know where to sell their products, where they will apply their skills and how to make money out of the trainings.
With SCOPE, she said they adopt the non-traditional method by inquiring with companies, SMEs and corporations what they need. They then look into existing communities whether there is one that can provide that need. If there is one, SCOPE will upgrade their skills or strengthen their association by tapping other organizations who are experts on a particular field. She said that if there is none, they will look for a community, with the help of other organizations, to become future producers to meet that need.
SCOPE is a program jointly implemented by a social development foundation PBSP and German federal enterprise GIZ.
In reaching out to companies, Ruffolo said SCOPE will shoulder 50 percent of the project cost, which is usually spent for skills development trainings.
From the day it started in 2004, SCOPE has already implemented 40 projects in different industries, including agriculture, handicrafts, tourism, among many others operating in the Visayas and Mindanao areas.
One of the companies that partnered with SCOPE is Jojie’s Bakeshop in Bohol, which imported peanuts from China, Vietnam, and Luzon for their bread and other peanut-based products.
Learning this, Roffolo said SCOPE then found a community for them, the Carmen Coop in Bohol, which they trained in the proper planting of peanuts and provided with post-harvest facility to ensure peanut quality.
At present, Ruffolo said SCOPE has six ongoing projects, with a number of negotiations currently on the side.
However, Roffolo said the success or the sustainability of the livelihood program does not mainly rest on SCOPE but on the “good partnership” the private company has with the chosen community and vice versa.
She admitted that although there were many success stories with SCOPE, there were also partnerships that failed.
“SCOPE is only a kickstart, an engagement period, and if the company decides to partner with the community even without the SCOPE, they can continue the partnership,” Ruffolo said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 26, 2013.