Update from Merlinda Torejos in the Philippines

The Merlinda Torejos women in the Philippines

The Merlinda Torejos women in the Philippines

I received this update from one of our projects in the Philippines:

I’ve spent several months acting as a Kiva Fellow on the island of Bohol in the Philippines, visiting entrepreneurs and working alongside a local Field Partner here. As you may know, all entrepreneur profiles on Kiva’s web site are posted by local Field Partners (microfinance institutions), which are organizations that lend to the working poor to help lift themselves out of poverty. The role of the Field Partner is to screen each entrepreneur, upload his/her loan request on the Kiva web site, disburse the loan, and collect repayments.

Community Economic Ventures, Inc. (CEVI), in partnership with WorldVision, delivers microfinance services and education to thousands of borrowers throughout the Philippines. With over 20 branches, CEVI reaches even the most remote clients as custodians of your Kiva loans.

One such branch is in Trento, Agusan del Sur province in Mindanao. This small, agricultural community is several hours by bus from the main city of Davao and is known for its advances in organic rice farming. On a recent visit we met with the San Jose cluster of clients and attended their weekly meeting.

CEVI clients form community clusters, which are groups of 6 to 30 people who meet regularly to provide training and education to borrowers as well as to collect and disburse repayments and loans. With regularly elected officers, these groups are entirely managed by the community for the benefit of its members. On this afternoon, the San Jose cluster began the meeting with a prayer before settling in to discuss the arrival of Kiva and how it works.

Many of those in the San Jose cluster raise pigs or rice and are provided with agricultural loans. These loans often have a 4 month term, which coincides with the length of time it takes to raise a piglet or the period to bring rice to harvest. Often the proceeds go toward animal feed or fertilizers, but may also be used to purchase piglets or seed. The most profitable pig farmers are those with sows who can breed their own piglets, but sows are costly to maintain given their piggish appetites.

Nelia Tura runs yet another type of business by raising ducks. She recently purchased 200 ducklings which she keeps behind her small wooden home outside Trento. After reaching maturity, the ducks will lay one egg a day which she sells to local balut manufacturers. Balut is a duck egg which has been fertilized to 16 or 17 days before being steamed and eaten with vinegar and salt. It’s a favorite late-night snack which is high in protein and economical at a price of about $0.30. Nelia has a near monopoly on duck eggs in her town and was able to increase her output thanks to her Kiva loan.

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