Japan releases P8.5-M to boost micro enterprises in South Cotabato

December 23, 2010 2:02 pm 

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Dec. 23 – The government of Japan has released some P8.5 million for the expansion of a micro-credit program for entrepreneurs in South Cotabato province.

Belen Fecundo, executive director of the South Cotabato Foundation, Inc. (SCFI), said the grant is mainly aimed at boosting micro-entrepreneurship in the area, especially among the marginalized sectors.

The fund was extended through the Japanese government’s “Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project” (GGP), according to Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Makoto Katsura.

“It is difficult for people whose income is not stable to get loans from private banks. Therefore, they do not have enough opportunities to launch small businesses and increase their regular income,” the envoy said in a statement.

Fecundo’s group has been actively involved in micro-credit projects in South Cotabato since 1999.

The micro-credit project of SCFI serves as an alternative lending system for the rural and urban poor to ensure easy access to credit for their small scale businesses such as sari-sari store management, piggery, dressmaking, balut production, rice trading and furniture making.

The project does not only involve credit at an affordable interest rate of 3.33 percent very month, but also encourages borrowers to save on a weekly basis for building self-reliance and generating additional capital to scale up their enterprises, Fecundo said.

To date, SCFI has served more than 6,000 active clients with a 95 percent repayment rate.

However, the group’s existing projects cover only a small portion of the total community, leaving more people needing financial support to augment their businesses and improve their income.

The fresh grant will benefit around 930 micro-entrepreneurs in the areas of Koronadal City and the municipalities of Banga, Tantangan and Polomolok.

It also covers the procurement of a vehicle that will be used to access far-flung areas served by the group.

Japan, a top donor to the official development assistance fund, launched GGP in the Philippines in 1989 for the purpose of reducing poverty and helping various communities engaged in grassroots activities.

As of March 2010, 434 grassroots projects funded by GGP – ranging from roughly P1 million to P4 million– have been implemented by NGOs, local government units and other non-profit organizations.

The total grant for these projects so far amounts to US $ 18,982,775. It is expected that this project will further contribute to fostering the strategic partnership between the two countries towards the future. (PNA)

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