Project Awesome helps women's livelihood in Northern Cebu

WORKING WONDER. Roslyn Chavez is one of more than 2,000 women who benefit from a livelihood program that aims to improve and sustain the economic resilience of women in the community. (Contributed photo)

ROSLYN Chavez, a housewife, said she could contribute to her family’s daily financial needs if she is given the chance to manage a sari-sari store in her village in Bantayan Island, northern Cebu.

Her four children are still studying.

Putting up a store is one of the options Chavez could think of to help augment the income of her husband, a construction worker.

The answer came to her after the Kaongkod Womens Livelihood Association (Kawla) established its own consumer store in 2015.

Kawla’s members, including Chavez, take turns in administering the store every day.

The project was made possible through the Accelerating Women Empowerment through Sustainable Opportunities for Microenterprises and Employment or Project Awesome, which provided interventions that included provision of skills and enterprise development trainings, provision of capital for livelihood opportunities, organizational strengthening to increase women-owned or operated tourism-related enterprises, facilitation of access to market, finance, and other business development services through public-private partnerships.

Project Awesome is managed by the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) with the support from Lutheran World Relief.

It boosted the economic resilience of 2,185 unemployed and underemployed women in the towns of Bantayan, Santa Fe, Madridejos and Daanbantayan.

Most women in these towns have limited options in getting paid work.

PBSP partnered with Cebu’s business groups for skills trainings, apprenticeship and employment-matching activities so female beneficiaries can be provided with access to opportunities in the tourism industry as employees or entrepreneurs.

Project Awesome also worked with local government units for increased access to programs and services that support start-up enterprises for women, including linkages with financial institutions in the development and implementation of savings funds.

Kawla members were also taught how to properly manage their funds through the creation of a community-managed savings and credit association (Comsca), which offers a simple savings and loan facility in their community in lieu of formal financial services.

After setting up their Comsca savings in January 2018, Kawla had been able to pool P100,000 worth of shares from their members in June in the same year.

It later set up an emergency fund facility.

The group also became a licensed grains retailer in its area, catering to the Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries of Department of Social Welfare and Development.

With their additional assets, Kawla’s consumer store pooled almost P75,000 of net profit in just one month of operation.

The group’s combined gains allowed its members to get at least P2,000 worth of net shares, excluding the funds they set aside for their revolving enterprise.

“With the Comsca scheme, we learned discipline and wise spending. We also learned how to create a social fund for emergencies. We owe our survival to PBSP because it came at the time when we needed its help the most,” Chavez said in Cebuano.

Project Awesome is a component of PBSP’s flagship program for livelihood and enterprise development, which focuses on supporting agro-enterprise value chain development and improving access to jobs through skills upgrading and employment facilitation.

The program seeks to expand economic opportunities through the engagement of the private sector and partner organizations, and links communities to the value chain of companies for a more sustainable impact.

Project Awesome also helped increase the women’s capability to prepare for and cope with disasters by establishing a savings association and facilitating linkages to insurance and social protection services.

The project revisited existing disaster risk reduction and management plans from the local government units to make it gender responsive, which helped advocate for more women participation in the crafting of plans and activities.

Project Awesome also created partnerships and strategic alliances among women entrepreneurs and improved the information dissemination on new markets, innovations and trends through networking events.


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