CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- Housewife Lorina Henson of Barangay San Roque, Sta. Ana town used to worry about her children’s daily school allowance not until she became an entrepreneur two years after.


Henson’s friend and neighbor Nancy, who used to go on a “door to door” mission in the hope of selling medicine supplements to augment the family’s small income, is now also an entrepreneur – the proud owner of a “dirty ice cream” business.

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Another neighbor, Sitang, also found financial freedom through her recently put up a computer shop or internet café business.


All three women-entrepreneurs of the said barangay share one thing in common – they are all members of the Aku ing Bayung Entreprenyur – Kapampangan (ABE-K) and as such, beneficiaries of the Pampanga provincial government’s livelihood program.


Prior to her owning a small business, Henson said she used to sell fish ball and rice cakes with borrowed capital from relatives.


“But when ABE-K entered the picture, things definitely turned out better for my family’s finances,” she said.


Henson shared these experiences during the recent assessment of the ABE-K livelihood program held at the Benigno Aquino Memorial Hall at the Capitol compound.


The assessment was attended by Pampanga Governor Eddie T. Panlilio, members of the Provincial Livelihood Committee (PLC), the program beneficiaries in six barangays of Sta. Ana together with the town’s social welfare development officer.


Panlilio said his administration launched the ABE-K program in 2007 to provide livelihood opportunities to residents of needy communities in the province.


Under the livelihood program, qualified beneficiaries in target barangays group themselves and form an association, undergo a two-day seminar on business management and values enhancement and are provided with P5,000 soft loan, payable in 50 weeks without interest.


Henson admits that for some, the P5,000 loan may be small, but for poor people like her who find it hard to make both ends meet, the zero-interest loan  was a big help.


Aside from providing a steady source of income, the ABE-K program also taught her the value of saving money and developing and maintaining good relationship with the members of the community.


Every week, each member pays P160 to the association’s treasurer, which is broken down as follows: P100 for loan repayment, P50 for savings and P10 for the operating expenses. Thus, at the end of the payment period, the member has saved P2,500 for himself.


The program, which started in Barangay San Roque, has encouraged residents of nearby barangays – San Agustin, Santiago, San Joaquin, Sto. Rosario, and Sta. Maria. 


Sta. Ana Mabalacat Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) Rossana Sanga thanked the Provincial Government for extending needed resources to said town, a third class rank municipality which they envision to rank first class soon with the increasing number of entrepreneurs.


Sanga acknowledged that the “positive attitude of the members, coupled with the committee’s efficient implementation of the program, spelled its success.”


Mamerto Gatus, head of the Provincial Cooperative and Entrepreneurial Development Office (PCEDO) and member of the PLC, said the committee has been conducting a series of assessment on ABE-K with the program beneficiaries to evaluate the strong and weak points of the program since January.


At the same time, the assessment aimed to gather recommendations from the program beneficiaries and other stakeholders to further improve the program.


Based on the PCEDO report, the province has extended a total of P10,560,000 amount of loans to 85 ABE-K organizations with 2,112 members benefited since 2007.


Gatus added that the program will be further expanded this year to reach out to as many needy individuals as possible.


The assessment was also attended by Provincial Administrator Lawyer Vivian Dabu, Provincial Employment Services Office (Peso) Head Luningning Vergara, Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) Head Crispin Guintu, Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) Susan Dimabuyu and local businessman Marco Lazatin who shared some valuable business tips to the participants. (Erlinda T. Yutuc/Pampanga PIO)