Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A happy story about 12 women, their children and your kindness

Thanks to those of you who donated and publicised fundraising for this microfinance project, AU$7,000 (edit: $8600 total thanks to further $1600 community donation from my employer IBM) was raised to help Filipino women out of poverty through a 2 year program. And here are the recipients of your kindness.

The following is an excerpt from the Initial Report provided by Opportunity International Australia.

Furao Trust Group - Philippines

The Furao Trust Group is composed of 12 female members who initially heard about the program from another villager. A loan officer conducted an orientation seminar for the residents of Furao and explained the details of the program including the different services offered. The 12 women then passed the evaluation process, based on their determination and capability to run a small business. As a result, Furao Trust Group was formed.

Members meet with a loan officer every Thursday. During this time they make their loan repayments and receive business training and mentoring. They also discuss issues relevant to both their business and personal lives,and find support and encouragement. The loan officer facilitates discussions and helps the members solve problems.Members say they enjoy these meetings as they are able to spend time creating strong friendships.

This report provides information on the Trust Group which was established in the last three months, and outlines the types of businesses that have been funded as a result of your giving towards the Trust Group program.

Furao Trust Group

Furao village is located in the province of Isabela on the island of Luzon. Agriculture, particularly rice and corn, are the biggest industries in Isabela, which was named after Queen Isabela II of Spain. Villagers in Furao come from a mixture of three main ethnic groups: Ilocano, Ibang and Tagalog. All three languages are commonly spoken. Furao is a small village on the outskirts of the nearest town, however the closest market from the village is still 7km away. Furao Trust Group members have to travel 10km to buy stock for their businesses at the large public market in Roxas.

Furao Trust Group members are engaged in various small businesses including tricycle driving, piggeries, vegetable gardening and barbeque vending. With the loans received, members can invest in larger quantities of their product or can expand their range of stock.

Prior to receiving financial assistance, most members earned approximately Php.100 -150(A$2.55-3.85) a day. This income has increased to Php. 200-250 (A$5.10-6.40) as a result of the additional capital and business training. Furao Trust Group members are working hard to provide their children with opportunities they never had.

Furao Trust Group members (Name, M/F, Age, Business)
Conception Agudon, Female, 50, Tricycle operator
Lenie Calubaquid, Female, 55, Sari-sari store
Adelaida Mina, Female, 55, Tricycle operator
Delia Agudon, Female, 47 ,Piggery
Norma Diampoc, Female, 44, Sari-sari store
Charlita Caranzo, Female, 46, Vegetable vending
Linda Quibilan, Female, 58, Vegetable vending
Caranzo Arlene, Female, 34, Direct selling
Lucia Florendo, Female, 45, Vegetable gardening
Marcelina Pedro, Female, 55, Piggery
Aida Salvador, Female, 37, Piggery
Charliza Lumilan, Female, 35, Barbeque vending

Life in Furao

Household size
This group has an average household size of four people. In the Philippines, parents typically have two or three children, and are often responsible for supporting aged parents or an adopted niece or nephew.


Furao has its own health centre where villagers can receive free consultations and medicine.


42% of Trust Group members attended university, while 58% attended high school. Several members were unable to complete their university diplomas due to financial constraints. All of the members of Furao Trust Group hope to support their children until they complete senior high school and many hope to send their children to university. Each member saves a portion of their business profit each week with the intention of using this money for their children’s future.


Most houses in Furao are semi-concrete with roofs of galvanised iron, walls of lawanit (wood) and concrete floors. Most of the houses only have two rooms, so large families often sleep in their living room. Toilets are usually open pits located outside the house. Water is accessed from a communal well. Households in Furao have access to electricity.

Client Profile

Norma Diampoc runs her own sari-sari store business. She is married to Augustus, a farmer. Together they have three children: Cristine, 24 years old, Alma, 22, and Elgie, 18.

Out of the hardships she endured as a child, Norma has become a strong business woman. Being part of a family who did not have enough resources to provide for their needs, she was forced to leave high school early.Norma usually opens her store at 8am and closes it at 9pm. She chose to open a sari-sari store because she is able to earn a living and still fulfill her responsibilities as a wife and mother.

“I am able to buy more commodities for my store like detergent soap and canned goods." She recalls that before the assistance of ASKI she was having trouble budgeting her income. With the help of the Trust Group’s loan officer, financial planning for her family has become easier.

Philippines – At a Glance

The Philippines is a nation of 7,107 islands, known for its fun-loving people and American-influenced culture. The Philippines became the first and only colony of the United States in 1898, and is now the third largest English speaking country in the world.

Due to a long history of colonial rule and ongoing associations with merchants and traders, today the Philippines is a vibrant mix of cultures, with Malaysian, Chinese, American, Spanish and Arab origins. Tribal communities are scattered across the archipelago. There are more than 111 dialects spoken throughout the Philippines.

Economic and political uncertainty
The Philippines has a long history of political instability, corruption and violent demonstrations. Gloria Arroyo has been president of the Philippines since 2001. In the 2004 presidential election, 112 people were reported to have been killed in election related violence. There were widespread reports of vote-buying, intimidation and voter registration problems. In early 2007, the Philippines again held national elections and President Arroyo was reinstated. Despite fears of recurrent violence, the elections went smoothly. President Arroyo stated after the election that poverty alleviation would be a major focus of her government.

Multilateral lenders—such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund—are insisting that Arroyo’s government halt the endless cycle of budget deficits by stamping out corruption in the tax system. The new administration needs to vigorously tackle corruption and obtain due process in the legal system, as well as improve efficiency and competition. Delays in implementing such structural reforms have made economic growth slow in comparison to other countries in the region.

Poverty is a reality
Poverty in the Philippines has been a predominantly rural phenomenon, with the gap between urban and rural poverty increasing in recent years. In rural areas, many people depend on subsistence farming and fishing to support their families. Some work as tenant farmers of paid agricultural workers, and there are few social services to support them. Indigenous people are also more likely to be poor, illiterate and unemployed than their non-indigenous counterparts.
Groups who are especially vulnerable include indigenous peoples, small-scale farmers who cultivate land received through agrarian reform, landless workers, fishermen, people in rural areas and women.

Fishermen play a crucial part in the national economy of this nation of many islands
Area: 298,170 sq km
Population: 96,061,680
Capital city: Manila
Ethnic groups: Tagalog 28.1%, Cebuano 13.1%
Religions: Roman Catholic 81%, Muslim 5%
Language: More than 170 languages are spoken within the Philippines. The official languages are Filipino (basedon Tagalog) and English.
Source: CIA World Factbook (Nov 2008)

Poverty and health

A recent survey reported that hunger is a fact of life for 40% of Filipinos. Of the five leading causes of death, fourare preventable communicable diseases—diarrhoea, bronchitis, pneumonia and influenza. The prevalence of communicable disease places a huge toll on communities and on the health and economy of the nation as a whole.

The population growth rate is also presenting serious challenges to the delivery of health services. There are only 1.2 medical physicians per 1,000 people and 18% of the population is undernourished. In rural areas, people’s health is worsened by the difficulty of accessing medical treatment, along with locally endemic diseases like malaria. The growing population is also putting pressure on the environment, a concern which will only exacerbate the problems of poverty and disease in the future.

How Opportunity Australia is helping
Opportunity Australia is meeting the challenges in the Philippines by working with three implementing partners, ASKI, TSKI and TSPI (Alalay Sa Kanularan, Inc., Taytay Sa Kauswagan, Inc. and Tulay Sa Pag-unlad, Inc.) Our Philippines partners are currently providing loans, savings and insurance to over 390,000 clients.

Opportunity Australia is undertaking a Philippines Renewal Program—helping our Philippine partners move from product-driven to client-responsive services. This transformation will increase service quality to existing borrowers and allow for the expansion of services into other needy client markets. The renewal will also equip our partners toremain at the cutting edge of a rapidly evolving microfinance market, enabling them to deliver innovative financial solutions to address the needs of poor people.

The 2008-2010 Renewal Program achieves twin goals: improving the sustainability of microfinance and other antipoverty services to the poor; and broadening their social impact among some of the poorest families and communities in the Philippines. Together, we can make a difference to the lives of thousands of poor people across the Philippines.

Under-five mortality rate: 33 per 1,000
Average life expectancy: 71 years
Literacy: 92.6%
Population with access to safe drinking water: 85%
Source: United Nations Human Development Report

Opportunity International Overview
Opportunity International is a global leader and pioneer with over 35 years’ experience in providing microfinance and enterprise development to the working poor in developing countries.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Remembering an Opportunity for Women in Poverty

Today, thanks to a number of generous people around the world I was able to pass on a total donation of AUD$7,077 towards an Opportunity International Australia Trust Group for women in poverty!

Since September last year, you tweeted. You blogged. You very kindly donated. And together we raised *nearly* enough to fund a 2 year microfinance program. Opportunity Australia were really excited about your donations and support, and will find a 'match' from a $3000 public donation to create this $10,000 microfinance Trust Group in the Philippines. Stay tuned for more details about the business that will be created in a few months time!

It's not over yet!
Someone just donated another $50 and I know a couple of people had difficulties making payments in the last 24 hours. So, I'm leaving a newly created Chipin open for the rest of the year so you can continue to give. In fact, I'd love to see if we can still raise the rest of the money quickly.

So how did we raise the money?
The donations came in so many ways. As you will read on Twitip, some things happened that were totally unexpected. For instance "an overseas businesswoman was visiting Melbourne and met me for dinner. She donated $500 towards my fundraiser and wanted to discuss the possibility of funding an entire Trust Group (she probably will, along with a friend)
She was the friend of a Twitter friend, although she doesn’t use Twitter herself."(read more)

Your support was really, really incredible

We tried a number of social media events together, from Chipins to Facebook.

including an ebook

or two

you contributed photos towards a mini-exhibition in a Melbourne bar

and a number of you put the call out on Twitter and your blogs, including:
Laurel Papworth http://laurelpapworth.com
Gavin Heaton http://www.servantofchaos.com
Des Walsh http://deswalsh.com/
Debra Askanase Community Organizer 2.0
Amy Jussel from Shaping Youth
Lee Hopkins http://leehopkins.net
Penni Russon http://eglantinescake.blogspot.com
Andy Piper who also gave a shout out on the Dogear Nation podcast
Women in the Lead
The Greater IBM Connection blog
Guest post on Twitip

We didn't reach the $10,000 goal (yet!) but we did raise $7,077 which has gone towards helping a number of Filipino women out of poverty through business loans and training. I'm not sure why we didn't raise the full amount. Perhaps because not everyone has heard of Opportunity Australia, or Chipin was fiddly (more on that later!) Maybe microfinance is not easily understood, maybe times are just tough or perhaps I still have much to learn. Still, I am very grateful for your donations and extremely happy that we were able to raise so much.

Just look at how many of you helped in one way or another (not including all the donations and retweets!) Amy Jussel, Amy Sample Ward,Anita Pahor,Annie Le Cavalier,Daphne Nederhorst, Debra Arkanase, Eileen Clegg, Lucky Chhetri, Jyl Johnson Pattee, Karen Muanu, Marigo Raftopolous, Nancy White, Phaedra Boinidiris, Sandy Skees, Stacey Monk, NextNow, Eileen Clegg, Shahin Shafaei, Marigo Raftopolous, Luke Grange, Debbe Kennedy Sally K. Green, Melissa Sader, Sagart, Karen Tipping, Amy Jussel, Bad Koala ,Bernie Michalik, August Boehm, David Armano, ePredator, Bettina Cutler, Jared Woods, Vasundharb, Janelle Amet, David Masters, Siddharth, Sean Lew, David Talamelli, Penni Russon, Gypsychk, Andy Piper, Aaron Julius Kim, Ric Hayman, Amy Palko Michelle Zamora, Alison Spencer, Anita Pahor, Beth Kanter Bonnie McEwan Cindy Lenferna de la Motte, Chris Brogan, James Governer, Danielle Johnston, Global Dialogue Center ,Janette Toral, Confident Writing, Kieran Cannistra, Linda Griffin Lindy McKeown, Lynne Wenig,
Nina Simosko, Phaedra Boinidiris, Renee Wolforth, Dr Robyn McMaster, Shai Coggins,Silvia Guccione,Suzanne Male, Smink Works Books, Sacha Chua, Gus Poskus, Matt Moore, Iggy Pintado and I'm sure, many others.


And remember it's not too late to donate or start something yourself. I'd love to hear your feedback about your involvement. I hope you enjoyed being part of it as much as I did!

Final few hours

If you would like to make any final donations please use this Chipin. Unfortunately my original Chipin expired a few hours before I hoped and I couldn't go in and edit any settings. So I started this new one to raise any final funds today. It will remain open until the end of the year also.

Thank you once again for your support as you have helped to raise AU$7,000 towards a $10,000 Trust Group! Will you help me raise any final funds in the next few hours?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Final Call for Women's Opportunity Microcredit Donations

In around 12 hours on June 30th I will be passing on your generous donations to Opportunity International Australia.

Last week I rang them and told them that around $5,000 was raised.

Today I sent them a note and told them it was now $7,000.

WOW - thank you!

Over the next 12 hours, will you help me to make it closer to AU$10,000 so that this Trust Group program in the Philippines can begin straight away? Each one of your donations counts. After all that's how we reached AU$7,000 :)

Your donations will help up to 30 Filipinos (mostly women) to get out of poverty through a 2 year program helping them to set up businesses. Women like Calma Arcala, an Opportunity International client who now sells mushrooms to bring a secure income in for her family. In fact since starting the program with Opportunity Australia she now owns a mushroom farm and employs 5 other people from her village!

Please make your donation prior to midday AEST.

Friday, June 26, 2009

How Microcredit creates opportunity for women in poverty and how you can help today

You might have seen me tweet asking for donations for women living in poverty in the Philippines (4 days to go!) Here's a little explanation to help you understand what microcredit is and why I am raising funds for nonprofit Opportunity International Australia.

Opportunity Australia has been operating for 35 years, helping people living beneath the poverty line (less than US$1 a day) to establish successful small businesses through 'microcredit' which is a 'microfinance' service.

Opportunity Australia currently have around 1.4 Million active microcredit clients. That means they are helping 1.4 million people in India, the Philippines and Indonesia to learn business skills, generate an income, employ more people and provide a better future for their children.

Microcredit basically means that people, who are otherwise unable to secure finance to start a business, are able to get collateral free- loans so that they can buy a sewing machine, or buy a fruit cart, or whatever is needed to help them secure an income. As each business grows, loans are paid back and lent out again. 97% of Opportunity Australia's loans are repaid.

Most loans (around 90%) are made through a group lending method called Trust Groups, where 15-30 clients (mostly women) come together to co-guarantee each others loans. Each Trust Group chooses its own members who are drawn from the local community. They meet each week to repay their loans, share experiences and learn new skills. I LOVE this part of the trust group method - because it ENABLES women to succeed through a well designed 2 year development program. Here's a little video that explains some more:

So this is where I need your help to raise AU$10,000 to create a Trust Group in the Philippines. Over $5,700 has been donated from people around the world. I'm constantly amazed at the variety of donations and grateful for each one. Last week someone in America donated $100, someone in Calcutta donated $3, and someone in Germany donated online while he was on the train! A whole lot of you have been tweeting and blogging to show your support also. Thank you!

What about you? Will you chip in a few dollars to create an opportunity for someone in poverty? (Note the Chipin is displayed in US dollars)
All funds raised will go to Opportunity Australia midday June 30th AEST.

Donations made by Australian residents are also tax deductible and if you prefer to donate in Australian dollars, you can deposit directly via paypal. Thank you for your kindness and support. Every donation counts!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Tweet to make a difference this week!

**Update - only 185 x $20 donations (AU$25) needed this week to create a two year group microfinance program for up to 30 women!**

With only a week left to raise $5,000 (US$4,000) for an Opportunity International program for Filipino women in poverty I have a teeny tiny, and I hope "tweetworthy" request.

Will you help to make a difference with a single tweet? I really need your help to promote this Wonderwebby Chipin (#WWCI) on Twitter tomorrow for #MicroloanMonday and Tuesday #CharityTuesday

All I'm asking is for your tweets to raise awareness and funds for this Opportunity International fundraiser.

You could tweet: "please donate to this project against poverty http://wonderwebby.chipin.com #WWCI #microloanmonday"
or... "help women in poverty - fundraiser ends in 1 week http://wonderwebby.chipin.com #WWCI #charitytuesday " or simply write in your own words - whatever you think is most compelling.

Over the last several months I have been asking for donations for a 2 year microfinance (also known as microcredit or microloan) program - most people have been donating $20 at a time - and the fundraiser ends in a week on June 30th!!

If just 250 190 people donate $20 each this week then a community of up to 30 Filipino women currently living in poverty will immediately commence a two year journey, creating small businesses and meeting weekly to support one another and learn new skills - imagine that!!

Just in case you want to read more or write a blog post, I've put together a list of resources to help you out!
Thank you so much for helping out with this important cause! Your generosity makes all the difference.
Australian donations are tax deductible.

A story about a fundraiser

Fuze Tell A Story Contest
if you enjoyed these slides please add your vote before June 22nd, 11.59 PM PST.