Aboitiz Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of the Aboitiz Group, is helping nine cooperatives get back on track after being gravely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is through the Livelihood Recovery Project for Partner Cooperatives and Associations Nationwide (REstart).
REstart is a three-year program which aims to support partner cooperatives and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) nationwide to restart their operations and recover from economic loss and failure brought about by the pandemic. Supporting cooperatives and MSMEs is vital in preserving jobs and productivity. To date, the Foundation has assisted 21 cooperatives with nearly 4,000 members.
Since 2016, the Aboitiz Foundation has extended over P90 million in enterprise development assistance to its beneficiaries nationwide.
“The commitment and perseverance of our assisted community groups inspire us to continue delivering projects quickly and safely to our host communities. Our goal is to help them recover and become more resilient as we go through the challenges of this pandemic together,” said Aboitiz Foundation President and COO Maribeth L. Marasigan.
During its first year of REstart’s implementation, partner cooperatives will receive “restarter” kits such as farm inputs, a bakery restarter package, and an egg-laying machine that will help their organizations rebuild their coops and provide employment opportunities to community members. Partner cooperatives will also receive training to improve their business management skills.
Partner cooperatives are expected to use the restarter packages to start anew their businesses with fresh access to financing, newly-acquired skills, and suppliers/buyers to help recover their businesses.
The program is being implemented in partnership with various Aboitiz business units in Aboitiz host communities and in collaboration with different government agencies, non-government organizations, and private entities.
One of the organizations that benefited from this program is the “Samahan ng May Iba’t Ibang Kakayahan sa Dabaw” (SAKADAB), an organization composed of 27 physically-challenged individuals from Los Amigos, Tugbok, Davao City.
“On behalf of SAKADAB Samahan, nagpa-pasalamat po kami sa Aboitiz Foundation at Davao Light sa tulong at suporta po ninyo sa aming group. Malaking tulong po ito para makapag-simula kaming muli. Maraming salamat po and God bless you more, (On behalf of SADAKAB Samahan, we thank the Aboitiz Foundation and Davao Light for your help and support. This will greatly help us start over. Thank you and God bless you more),” said SAKADAB President Ludivico Mascarinas, Jr.
Another recipient of the program, Gina Rosil, Board of Director of the Rural Settler Multi-Purpose Cooperative (RSMPC) in Naga City, Cebu said the program was timely because the coop was identified as one of the Redemption Centers of the city’s Focus Nutrition Assistance for Malnourished Children.
“Walang sawang pasasalamat sa Aboitiz Foundation sa tulong at nagkaroon kami ng additional income generating activity for RSMPC, (We unceasingly thank the Aboitiz Foundation for its help. We now have an additional income-generating activity for RSMPC),” Rosil added.
The REstart Program is also aligned with the recovery plan of the national government which includes financial or capital assistance, supply chain and market linkages for new business, business diversification or reinvention and skills development, and retooling.
Meanwhile in Albay, the donation of sewing machines was warmly welcomed by the Kalipunan ng Liping Pilipina (KALIPI) cooperative and Tiwi, Albay Mayor Jaime Villanueva.
“It will be a big help for me as the Federation President to extend and provide livelihood opportunities to the marginalized women in our community. On behalf of KALIPI, thank you Aboitiz Foundation and APRI for the generosity,” said KALIPI Federation President Araceli Clutario.
Other beneficiaries of the REstart program include Lamut Multi-purpose Cooperative in La Trinidad, Benguet, Cambinocot Multipurpose Cooperative and Cobcawa Multipurpose Cooperative in Cebu. Each of them received Php 100,000 worth of farm inputs; Apang Food Processor Association Skills in Alilem, Ilocos Sur received skills training on bread and pastry production while Pindangan II Multipurpose Cooperative in Camiling, Tarlac received two egg-laying machines.
The enterprise development program of Aboitiz Foundation supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth as it continues to empower cooperative members with effective organizational management and technical skills, financial and infrastructure support, and access to markets to help grow and expand their businesses.