CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- Women empowerment is a key factor in the successful implementation of a livelihood program in Pampanga.

Women micro entrepreneurs under the Provincial Government initiated “Aku ing Bayung Entreprenyur-Kapampangan” (ABE-K) livelihood program admitted that they are now more self-sufficient and are able to share with their husbands the responsibility of earning for their family.

For updates from around the country, follow Sun.Star on Twitter

This developed during the recently conducted assessment of the program’s implementation in the municipality of Mexico held at the Benigno Aquino Memorial Hall at the provincial capitol compound.

Evangeline Maniego of Barangay Divisoria said that managing her ABE-K financed sari-sari store is a big help to their family’s finances as “she was able to contribute to the school expenses of their six children”.

Maniego first learned about the Provincial Government’s livelihood program through a friend, who in turn heard it from the local social welfare and development office.

“At first, I was hesitant to avail of the P5,000 financing loan as it was my first time to do so,” she said. But common sense prevailed as her husband who had been working for several years abroad was about to end his job contract.

Under the program, micro entrepreneurs form ABE-K associations and after attending the required business management cum values enhancement seminar are provided with P5,000 soft loan each payable in 50 weeks without interest.

The loan is used to finance small scale income generating projects, such as direct selling, sari-sari store, fruit and atchara vending, repacking, silver works, ready-to-wear, electronics and bicycle parts, catering, e-load and fishball selling.

Maniego used her loan to start a small sari-sari store of school supplies, including yemas and polvoron, which she cooked herself. Their house is located in front of the barangay school, so she deemed it business-wise to cater to the needs of the school children.

After almost a year of operation, her sari-sari store now sells hamburgers, siomai and other delicacies.

Merlita, another housewife beneficiary in Barangay Sapang Maisac, said that ABE-K “is a big help to the family as they are able to send their children to school.”

She admitted though that not all members became successful in their endeavors but she advised them not to be disappointed with the barriers of the trade and instead be challenged and learn from past experiences.

Another program beneficiary, Josie of Barangay Pandacaqui conveyed her association’s heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the implementers of the program as it provided much needed financial assistance to their 30-members.

Governor Eddie T. Panlilio said the ABE-K program was launched in December 2007 to fight poverty and provide livelihood opportunities to target beneficiaries in the province.

“The members of the Provincial Livelihood Committee (PLC) that oversee the implementation of the program are heartened by the positive feedbacks from the beneficiaries themselves,” the governor said.

He reported that for the past 30 months, the program assisted 2,112 entrepreneurs in the province and provided with P10.56 million micro-financing loans.

The PLC also conducted livelihood trainings for 6,002 prospective entrepreneurs.

He advised the micro-entrepreneurs to use their time wisely in productive endeavors, adding that the Provincial Government has allocated an additional P2 million for the implementation of ABE-K program this year.

Provincial Cooperative and Entrepreneurial Development Officer (PCEDO) and PLC Member Mamerto Gatus said the assessment aimed to gather feedbacks from the beneficiaries themselves regarding the strong, weak points and best practices of the ABE-K program including their recommendations on how to further improve its implementation.

To date, the assessment has been conducted among the various ABE-K associations in the towns of Floridablanca, Sta. Rita, Sta. Ana, Mabalacat, Guagua, San Luis, Macabebe, Mexico and the City of San Fernando.

Also in attendance during the assessment were Public Employment Services Office Head Luningning Vergara, Provincial Veterinary Officer Doctor Augusto Baluyut, Provincial Sports Coordinator Gil Cortez, and Civil Society Representative Doctor Joe Sandico. (PIO)