Unity Savings Group Empowers 280 Participants

Savings Group Allows Elena to Help Her Family

By Maryann Dagdag, Unity Savings Group Adviser, Pathway For Hope Staff

Pathway For Hope USGWhen the Philippines was hit by coronavirus, millions of Filipinos lost their jobs. This included Elena’s husband and their children. Pandemic policies restricted senior citizens and minors from leaving their homes, making their situation even worse. Despite reaching an age where many people retire, Elena chose to work to help her children and their families. Even though Elena faced restrictions, she was determined to keep supporting her family and investing her income.

Friends and neighbors invited Elena to join the Unity Savings Group (USG) of Pathway for Hope, a community-based support group that provides financial services to its members. USG provides a safe place to deposit money, as well as faster and easier cash loans with lower interest rates. USG also allows for the sale of rice and groceries at lower costs, while maintaining good quality.

Elena started by savings P100 (about $2.08 U.S.) weekly. She purchased a month’s worth of rice and submitted a weekly grocery list to the USG. They made sure her orders were purchased and available on the designated pick-up day.

When Elena had saved P500, she was granted a P1,000 cash loan that helped her family pay their rent and utilities. USG served as a support group that empowered Elena to carry the financial burden of her family during their financial crisis.

Pathway For Hope USGToday, her husband and children are slowly getting back to work. But when wages are delayed and expenses keep coming, Elena now knows how to solve her family’s financial challenges.

Elena is just one of the many struggling married, single, widowed or separated women who found the courage to start their own small businesses using borrowed capital from USG. These women found the inspiration and financial discipline to save for their future needs and help others. They also found assurance and a sense of belonging through the support they received during emergencies.

USG is investing the collected savings of 140 (280 as of August 2021) members by providing loans for members and financing the weekly capital of the group’s rice and grocery purchase and sales business. The profits will be distributed back to members in the form of an annual dividend. A portion of the profits also will be used to fund benevolence. To date, USG has provided a total of P200,000 ($4,154 U.S.) in cash loans to members, plus P6,000 in cash assistance to members who were hospitalized, gave birth or experienced the death of loved ones. USG now offers life insurance for members who make a designated monthly contribution.

Extending financial services to the poor is high-risk and costly. But through the financial support and prayers of the people behind Pathway for Hope, the USG will continue to provide pro-poor loans and return the benefits back to its members.

Learn more about Pathway For Hope here.


The Edge of Hope: Sewing Face Masks Empowers Mayette

By Pen Bullo, Pathway for Hope Staff

(Jan. 18, 2021)

ER’s Pathway for Hope program operates with support from Grace Church of Glendora, CA. Since launching in 2018, the program has helped hundreds of vulnerable Metro Manila families through livelihood training, business basics and life skills workshops.

Mayette’s husband lost his job in March 2020 during the pandemic lockdown. They relied on food packs from his family for several months. They have two children, a 6-year-old and a 2-year-old. As a mother, Mayette worried her family might not survive this difficult time. With the pandemic raging, her husband could not find a proper job. Although she had her own sewing machine, she could not afford the raw materials to make products. Confused and at the edge of losing hope, Mayette and her family gave up their rented home and moved into a friend’s place.

In June, two women asked ER’s Pathway for Hope staff to help them start a small-scale livelihood opportunity for women who were struggling to afford raw materials. They wanted to make face masks, which have been in huge demand and are very salable during the pandemic. They invited Mayette to join them. They started sewing, earning 20 pesos (about 42 cents US) for a set of masks. From June on Mayette was able to earn between 300 pesos and 500 pesos ($10.42 US) a week. This money helped the family regain hope!

In addition, Mayette was very excited to learn advanced sewing skills, from making basic products to finishing dresses to sewing women’s and children’s wear. She also learned how to operate a special machine for making t-shirts.

Most recently, Mayette and some of the mothers have started their own small-scale community enterprise providing sub-contracting of made-to-order clothes.

During this pandemic, our trainees have collectively agreed to use the sewing machines at our center to make a living. We have generated jobs, which have benefitted their husbands, children and neighbors. We also have partnered with a local church to help us invest in the spiritual formation of these women and their families.

Learn more about Pathway For Hope here.


Real Life Impact: Livelihood Training for 25 Women

Do you ever wonder if livelihood training does any good? After all, participants often have low education, few incoming skills and almost no financial resources.

So here’s the true impact of what is happening in the Metro Manila community of Taytay, Rizal in Metro Manila. Last year the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), a government agency that works with community-based organizations in the Philippines, provided grants for 25 vulnerable women who participate in Extreme Response’s Pathway For Hope program. Our ER Asia team provided life skills and livelihood (sewing) training over several months.

The results are inspiring. All 25 students graduated the National Certificate Program. More importantly, the women are putting their sewing skills into action. Most of the graduates used their new skills to gain employment at a garment factory. Some have started their own small-scale sub-contracting operation to produce garments. And 14 of the women are developing a community enterprise they named “Pathway Designs”.

Imagine how much their lives have changed in just one year!

Another 25 Women to Receive Livelihood Training

This year, TESDA provided another scholarship grant for 25 more students that starts in November. It’s a blended learning program that includes in-person teaching and modules they will have to practice at home.

The training will take place in the Pathway For Hope community center in Taytay, Rizal. We will divide the 25 students into four groups in order to practice social distancing and prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.

We selected this year’s students using referrals from our graduates. The typical trainee is a mother whose husband has limited access to stable employment. By training people who are connected to our graduates, we provide the opportunity to help them build better relationships with their families and neighbors while strengthening the entire community.

Learn more about Pathway For Hope here.

Watch FacebookInstagram and our eNewsletters to see updates on ER’s work around the world.

Share This