Secretary Dinky Soliman and Eduardo Mendoza, executive director of Tulay sa Pag-unlad, Inc., sign the memorandum of agreement for the implementation of sustainable livelihood program for Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries
“To maintain a life that can allow them to dream of bigger things,” is Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman’s vision for beneficiaries of the department’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. To realize this vision, the DSWD, through the Sustainable Livelihood Program enlisted the help of three civil society organizations (CSOs) namely the Ahon sa Hirap, Inc. (ASHI), Tulay sa Pag-unlad, Inc. (TSPI), and the Ayala Foundation, Inc. (AFI) to extend livelihood assistance to the Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries. This was formalized through the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MoA) on March 25 at the DSWD Central Office.
Secretary Soliman added that, “we know how to help people value themselves but we need a sustaining factor. This sustaining factor is the private sector, with whom the government shares the vision of inclusive growth.”
AFI President, Maria Lourdes Heras-de Leon expressed that they are happy to partner with the DSWD to bring the beneficiaries a step toward this inclusive growth. Celebrating its 52nd year, AFI’s key programs are geared toward education, youth and leadership, cultural heritage, and sustainable livelihoods, most of which are also the DSWD’s primary concerns. Heras-de Leon shared that AFI’s vision is to see that the beneficiaries in Metro Manila, Batangas, and Palawan are gainfully employed through the various labor-intensive projects of the Ayala group of companies. AFI is also committed to support the training activities of the Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries for livelihood and development, and eventually provide market opportunities to promising entrepreneurial beneficiaries.
Bridge to inclusive growth
Furthermore, Secretary Soliman stressed that the Pantawid Pamilya Program serves as the “tulay para makatawid sa kaunlaran” (the Pantawid Pamilya Program serves as the bridge toward development). She remains confident about this because of the help of partners like TSPI and ASHI, who commit to provide “financial services in the form of credit, savings, micro-insurance that are accessible to the poor.” TSPI will provide micro-finance services with credit and savings schemes and new repayment cycle models and the Sustainable Livelihood Program will bridge them to self-sufficiency. TSPI Executive Director Eduardo Mendoza emphasized that micro-enterprise groups like theirs should have long ago been partnering with the government’s social welfare programs.
Agriculture is key
ASHI President Mila Mercado-Bunker agreed that the private sector has an integral role in assisting the beneficiaries toward self-sufficiency. ASHI, which will also be providing micro-finance assistance to the Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries, has many years of experience in providing various financial services with different schemes to its members. Secretary Soliman also focused on the need to invest in agricultural and rural sectors, which is also a focal area for ASHI.
The DSWD is currently serving 3.9 million poor households under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Out of these households, 300,000 will be finishing from the program by December 2013 as they belong to first set of households that were served in the year 2009.
Sustainable Livelihood Program Director Georgina Ann Hernandez optimistically shared that more than 150,000 of the set 1 beneficiaries have already been provided with livelihood assistance. By June of this year, all of the set 1 beneficiaries will be covered while the rest of the year will be allotted to focus on the sustainability and profitability of the livelihood projects.
Secretary Soliman concluded that as private and public sectors, we have a unified mantra: “organize them for power and they will all be prosperous.” ###