Early on in our charitable work in the Philippines, we realized that although the school sponsorship program and providing food to malnourished children were worthy projects, these were not self-sustaining so we embarked in a new direction where we could teach adults a skill that would enable them to start their own business. Through the generous donation from the Lloyd and Carol Brown Foundation, we were able to build a training center that provides extensive classes to adults in starting a small business. Classes started in 2009 and continue to this day. The demand was so great that we elected to double the size of our training center. All classes are vocational in nature (sewing, weaving, cooking, pedicure/manicure, etc) but we also provide simple accounting classes to prepare these future entrepreneurs for the business world. Several hundred adults have benefited from these classes.
As a follow on to this training, we decided to provide small loans to ladies who wanted to start their own businesses. Thus Project Kasiligan (PK) was born. PK is patterned after the very successful loan program that Muhammid Yunus started in Bangladesh in the 1980’s. It is called the Grameen Method of Micro-financing. Currently we have 7 active loan centers where poor women can borrow a small amount of capital to start their own business. Our goal is to have 15 active centers by the end of 2012. The women who avail themselves of these loans cannot get a traditional loan at a bank because they have no collateral. Our emphasis is on the “group dynamics” of the center where each woman is responsible to the group if they don’t pay their loan.