Are you dreaming BIG enough?

By Christine Joyce Ajoc, ICM Project Manager, Weekley Project

“Are you dreaming BIG enough?” This was the challenge posed to the attendees by the National Livelihood Convergence (NLC), an event organized by ICM’s Livelihood Department in Cebu City, Philippines on September 23-25, 2013, through the generous sponsorship of the David Weekley Family Foundation. The Convergence gathered together 90 livelihood trainers and leaders from ICM’s areas of operations in the Visayas and Mindanao, celebrating the milestones the Department has achieved since ICM’s founding in 1992. The livelihood model – business-in-a-box (BiB) was also applauded for its effectiveness in helping 15,000 families get on their own feet.

It hasn’t taken ICM long to recognize that the only way to help the poor was to “teach them how to fish”. “But our efforts were not always successful”, Daniel Mayhugh, Director of Livelihood, recalls in his speech. So three years ago, ICM integrated livelihood with its other core components and created the 16-week curriculum called Values, Health, and Livelihood (VHL) to address the holistic needs of those living in poverty.

Keynote Speaker Daniel Mayhugh, ICM’s Director of Livelihood, addresses guests and staff attendees at the National Livelihood Convergence (NLC) 2013.

For the livelihood training, the strategy has surprisingly thrived in simple, low-cost business solutions called business-in-a-box (BiB). This model is dynamic and requires low capital. Along with other livelihood components like sustainable organic gardening and savings group, it includes opportunities such as snacks and cleaning products making.

Since the implementation of the VHL curriculum, ICM participants are estimated to have generated over 700 million pesos in increased income. This BiB model is also benefitting 600 communities, 15,000 families and more than 100,000 family members a year.

“All these benefits were because of your efforts,” Daniel credited his livelihood trainers at the event. True enough, the trainers were awed and energized all throughout the event. Esteemed guests shared their experiences in 1) investing in the poor (Sustainable Livelihood Project of Department of Social Welfare & Development), 2) innovations that work for the poor (MyShelter Foundation’s Liter of Light), and 3) establishing corporate-community partnerships for local development (SCOPE of Philippine Business for Social Progress).  The livelihood trainers gained a new appreciation for the importance of their work.  They also left with a better understanding of how the work of ICM converges with that of other organizations.

NLC 2013 speaks of the kind of goals one can have, and the steps that we dare take to pursue them. Some detours may have to be taken along the way, but you will get there.

(Above) GOING GREEN. Ms. Helen Turner, Co-CEO and COO of ICM, checks out the Sustainable Organic Gardening Booth with ICM staff from Bacolod and Koronadal.

(Above) SURVIVAL TO SUBSISTENCE TO SELF-SUFFICIENCY. Ms. Georgina Ann Hernandez, Director of DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) shares with the audience her Department’s efforts in ensuring the transition of Pantawid Pamilya members from survival to self-sufficiency through various livelihood projects.

(Above) WHOA. Illac Diaz, Executive Director of MyShelter Foundation, amazes the crowd with the simple yet useful innovation of solar-powered bottle light.

(Above) CORPORATE-COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS. Ms. Janina Wohlgemuth, SCOPE Consultant for PBSP and GIZ, shares how a bakeshop and the local farmers in Bohol have mutually benefited from each other after strategically partnering for local growth.

(Above) WHIP IT. Bacolod Leaders share techniques in Kutsinta Making to the ICM National Staff (in red apron), at a demonstration booth for BiBs right outside the Pavilion.

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