x x x Yet, S50 livelihood loans for poor women, to take one example, won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank. “Micro-Credit is a means, whereby large population groups find ways to break out of poverty” the nobel citation said.
And that’s exactly how the CENTER FOR AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT MUTUALLY REINFORCING INSTITUTION (CARD MRI) won the 2008 MAGSAYSAY AWARD FOR PUBLIC SERVICE.
Starting with P20 in 1986, JAIME ARISTOTLE ALIP, Dolores Torres and Lorenza Bañez assisted landless women working in Laguna’s coconut plantations. Using Grameen methods, Laguna Borrowers guaranteed each other’s loans. They pledged to make loan payments and savings deposits every week.
The strategy worked. The women’s loan repayment rate is above 99 percent. The project’s return on equity is 12.5 percent on assets of S18 million, along way from the original P20 capital.
Today the project has 629 branches throughout the Philippines. More than half a million poor women are members. And two and a half million people are insured. Many are now self-employed, raising chickens, goats, or pigs, operating tricycles and street-side restaurants or working as tailors, market vendors and mini-storekeepers.
The center’s lending program provides livelihood-skills training. The project stresses individual responsibility. And its micro-insurance program serves as a safety net against emergency expenses, so often a catastrophe for the poor.
Despite striking progress, only a few have advanced to become “mature clients,” the citation notes. There are members who built income-generating businesses with over S2,200 in working capital. Each of these can employ from 5 to 15 workers.
“Most remain poor,” the Magsaysay Award citation says. “Even so, their lives are better because of CARD MRI. Even small addition to a family’s income can have profound consequences- for better housing, for better nutrition, and, most of all, for better education. Over time, these small benefits accumulate, securing and improving the lives of members and offering better hopes to the next generation.” X X X (Juan L. Mercado/PDI-August 19, 2008)