Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Local firms help DSWD address poverty in Albay
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, June 23 (PNA) – In Albay, a Bicol province where almost half of the population is poor, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has tapped several local business firms to help in addressing poverty.

So far, according to DSWD Bicol Regional Director Arnel Garcia on Monday, three private entrepreneurs have tied up with the agency towards this end by way of providing the province’s poor, particularly beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), sustainable means of livelihood.

These entrepreneurs, which have recently entered into a joint Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the DSWD regional office here, are the Nasol Haircraft Corp. (NHC), Fundline Finance Corp. (FFC) and Entrepreneurs Alumni Development Cooperative (EADCOOP).

The NHC, which has its main factory in Camalig, Albay, and a branch in this city, is a private company that leads in the production for export of synthetic hair like wigs and hair extensions in the province.

In the MOU, the company has committed to train and hire at least 120 4Ps beneficiaries as factory workers for its upcoming expansion in Masbate.

The NHC hopes to contribute in alleviating the lives of poor Albayanos with this partnership with the DSWD, Merry Belludo, the company president and chief executive officer, said.

The FFC, which is a micro-lending and financing company based here, on the other hand, will help in job placements and enterprise development of 4Ps beneficiaries wherein it has allocated 71 positions to be filled by 4Ps beneficiaries as financial consultants and branch secretaries.

It has also provided loans amounting from Php8,000 to Php35,000 as seed capital in the putting up of small businesses to 16 4Ps members.

Likewise, the EADCOOP, which is a micro-finance institution organized by the 1986 graduates of Bicol University and facilitating financial, managerial and technical assistance to small and large-scale businesses, committed to provide skills training and enterprise development to 4Ps beneficiaries who are willing and potential to establish their own businesses.

“This partnership with DSWD that we have entered into is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us in the private business sector to be of help to our poor province mates,” EADCOOP board secretary Regine Moyo said.

Garcia said the partnership with these companies in pursuing poverty-alleviation initiatives in Albay sees the potential in creating a formidable alliance between the private and public sectors through more sustainable livelihood opportunities.

Based on the latest survey, the province has a population of about 1.3 million people comprising some 212,000 households with an average size of 5.22 persons each, which is significantly higher than the national average of 4.99, according to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) of the Philippine Statistical Authority.

Of this number, NSCB said 511,636 or nearly half are poor -- ranking Albay the No.10 with the highest share in the poor population nationwide.

Region-wide, the statistical board placed around 43 poor for every 100 Bicolanos during the first semester of 2012 while the regional office of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) said Bicol ranked as number one in the percentage share of the poor population from among all the country’s regions.

In its recent report to the Regional Development Council, the NEDA said Bicol contributed some 2.3 million or 9.8 percent to the country’s 23.8 million poor populations as of the same year, to top the list of the poorest region in terms of population share.

This means that about one of 10 poor people in the country comes from Bicol, a region rich in mineral and marine resources and well-visited eco-tourism destinations distributed among its six provinces, seven cities and 107 municipalities.

Garcia said that it is under these reasons that DSWD is making its presence highly noticed in the region, more particularly in Albay, where the national government through the 4Ps is spending Php1.05 billion per year in Conditional Cash Transfer to about 200,000 beneficiaries.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda, who has fought for the full coverage of 4Ps in Albay’s 15 towns and three cities, said the program actually constitutes the biggest and the more socio-economically beneficial relief to the province in this period of economic stress. (PNA) FPV/FGS/DOC/CBD/