Left to right: Victoria Areniego, a community facilitator and Cristy Castrence, the manager of Anda SHG Microfinance, show their SHG box that is used in their weekly collection.

Anda, Pangasinan – More than 1,500 beneficiaries of the cash-for-work (CFW) under the climate change adaptation and mitigation (CCAM) project created and became the first members of Anda Self-Help Group (SHG) Microfinance, an institution that provides investment and production credit for promoting the various developmental activities of the municipality to meet local needs.

In 2017, after the beneficiaries received their PhP1,900.00 CFW wage for undergoing a ten-day CCAM activities such as fish pen demolition, mangrove plantation and rehabilitation, coastal clean-up, community gardening, among others, they decided that their one-day wage amounting to PhP190.00 will be put into productive activities, of which the PhP90.00 was allocated to their annual Congress and the remaining amount was apportioned to the creation of the microfinance.

Members can loan a maximum of PhP10,000.00 and as low as PhP3,000.00, payable in six months, which they can use to jumpstart an income-generating activity, pay for their children’s school fees, and finance home needs. Compared to the 3% to 10% interest rates of the existing microfinance institutions (MFIs) in their locality, the Anda SHG Microfinance charges only a very minimal interest of 1.75%, a very acceptable borrowing rate that attracts individuals to shift from their previous MFIs. Patterned on the Self-Employment Assistance – Kaunlaran (SEA –K) of DSWD, individuals pay a weekly capital amortization and share a weekly PhP5.00 equity capital build-up. This strategy was designed to encourage the members to pool their savings regularly and maximize the pooled savings to be loaned by other members and, in the process, learning to be financially sound and disciplined and establishing good credit background.

“Ngayon, marami na sa aming mga members ang umunlad ang kanilang negosyo dahil maliit lang ang interest ng aming microfinance at tinuturuan naming sila kung paano ang mag-impok. Para siguraduhin din na napupunta sa tama ang kanilang inutang, regular ang pagmomonitor ng aming mga community facilitators mula sa iba’t-ibang barangay (Now, many of our members have improved their livelihoods because our microfinance charges only a minimal interest and we teach them how to save. To ensure that their loans are properly used, our community facilitators from different barangays regularly monitor them),” shared Cristy Castrence, Manager of Anda SHG Microfinance. The manager further disclosed that one of the primary objectives of their institution is to eliminate loan sharks leading to multiple loans of their poor constituents from formal microfinances. This type of predatory lending has high interest rates that make the poor borrower poorer.

Anda Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer Jowey C. Celzo narrated that he proposed the creation the Anda SHG Microfinance to help the poor to have immediate access of financial help from the community and at the same time to teach them how to save which they can use during emergencies. Prior to the conception of the program, the MSWDO consulted the local officials and beneficiaries on the project scheme. “We need to involve the people to foster project ownership. If we hear their voices, they become engaged and empowered, and later on become the advocates of social change,” he said. Accordingly, Mr. Celzo revealed that the CFW did not only promote environmental sustainability but pave way to the improvement of various livelihoods in their local communities, thereby making the residents financially capable.

As of June 2019, Anda SHG Microfinance has more than PhP1.2Million revolving fund with more than 2,000 members and plans to register to Securities and Exchange Commission the soonest. # By: Darwin T. Chan, Social Marketing Unit.