First packaged grant with Oikocredit develops women’s business skills
Philippine Rotarians conduct a survey of women who received loans from Ahon Sa Hirap, Inc., as part of a packaged grant. Photo courtesy of Peacebuilder President Rolly Pagaspas
Rotarians in Antipolo, Philippines, are teaching more than 2,000 women how to run businesses and balance family and work responsibilities, through an economic and community development project supported by a US$50,000 Rotary Foundation packaged grant.
In packaged grants, the Foundation has already completed the initial tasks of finding a strategic partner and designing the project’s framework, which lets participating Rotarians focus on assessing community needs, providing technical expertise, publicizing the project, and evaluating its progress.
The project, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Manila Circle, features the first packaged grant applied in collaboration with Oikocredit, one of Rotary’s strategic partners. The Rotarians work with microfinance institutions in their own communities to develop and run targeted training programs that increase the impact of microloans.
Assessing local needs
In the spring of 2012, the Philippine Rotarians teamed up with Ahon Sa Hirap, Inc. (ASHI), a network of microlenders supported by Oikocredit, to survey ASHI borrowers living in and around Antipolo. The study revealed that most of the women who had failed to repay their loans on time did so because they lacked experience balancing work and family responsibilities.
The survey also discovered that almost all of the women were willing to learn new entrepreneurial skills to expand their income-earning opportunities.
Implementing the project
After receiving approval for a packaged grant, Rotarians got together with ASHI to hire university-trained professionals to develop two training modules. The first explores the demands of family life and the demands of employment.
A second module helps the women identify and develop their business skills and also identify business opportunities, based on their resources and local market conditions.
Speakers and facilitators hired by the club have begun teaching weekly classes at 52 centers ASHI runs in the Antipolo area. Each class is 25 sessions. The staff at each center provides logistical support, such as transporting women to the sessions, preparing conference rooms, supporting the speakers and facilitators, and serving food as needed.
The women will be able to use the business skills they learn to better provide for their families throughout their lives and the training is expected to make them less likely to default on their loans. This in turn will expand the capacity of the microlender to make new loans.
In addition, ASHI staff are being trained to teach the modules, which will increase the project’s sustainability. Rolando Pagaspas, president of the Manila Circle club, said ASHI’s president has pledged to make the modules a requirement for all women seeking loans and to extend the training program to some of ASHI’s other 2,000 centers.
“The outcome of the project will be further duplicated, and sustained, even after the funding has been expended,” Pagaspas says.
The Manila Rotarians are testing the women before and after the training to determine how much they learn and asking each participant to form a simple entrepreneurial plan roughly equivalent to a small business plan. They, along with ASHI, also plan to monitor the participants’ income levels and loan repayment rates.
- Applications for packaged grants will be available in January for districts that have qualified under The Foundation’s new grant model. Learn more about the new grant model.
- Read more about the organizations Rotary works with, including our strategic partners.