Building one’s savings needs consistency, but for ultra-poor families, it is difficult to even start saving with limited financial resources directed to their most basic needs. Ultra-poverty makes it impossible to spare an amount large enough to invest in a business, purchase materials for home improvement, or spend on things that would increase quality of life.
ICM brings help, hope, and change to people living in ultra-poverty. Communities are given access to training and resources and provided with the necessary tools to start a micro-business. However, it is important to ensure that the progress they have made in their journey out of ultra-poverty is continuous. Here is where savings groups come in.
A savings group is an organized small group of people, often from poor and rural communities, that combine their savings and then lend out the accumulated savings to the members to pay for personal expenses or for business investments. Savings groups make it possible for individuals to easily access funds in case of emergencies, like an unforeseen illness, or unexpected expenses due to natural disasters. As part of ICM’s efforts to alleviate poverty, savings groups are formed to help families earn, save, and invest for a better future.
Malitbog New Saver’s Association was just formed in June 2022, but the active participation of its 36 members has got the savings group off to a good start. With the skills they learned from ICM’s livelihood lessons, they started making and selling detergent powder, fabric conditioner, and dishwashing liquid. The group sells up to 60 kilograms of detergent powder and more than 200 bottles of fabric conditioner monthly!
Aside from cleaning products, the group also retails rice and sells bayong (a tote bag made from woven strips of pandanus or palm leaves). “We buy dried palm strips, and some of our members weave them. This product is made to order, and each weaver can make up to 12 bags per day. Most orders come from vendors in Bankerohan (a public market in Davao City),” Manuel, the savings group’s leader, shared. Most of their members even started their own bayong business from loans drawn out of their social fund!
Malitbog New Saver’s Association built their capital from each member’s compulsory contribution of HK$3. “The business idea started when ICM taught us about earning and saving money. We also considered the needs of the people here in Malitbog. I think our business has become successful because we work together. Each member is contributing time and effort, from investing money to making and selling the products,” Manuel added.
The livelihood skills the New Malitbog community gained translated into endless opportunities with consistent efforts from each member. The savings group holds weekly meetings for financial reports, planning, and proposals for new products. Inspired by their group’s unity and diligence, Merly, one of the group members, said, “One of the reasons I continued attending the meetings is the friendship we have built. I am encouraged by other members’ experiences in life.” She also shared that her income from their business helped her provide for their family’s daily needs, children’s school expenses, and emergency funds.
With unity and prevailing hope for a brighter future, Malitbog New Saver’s Association is changing not just a life, but a community. Manuel said, “We are open for Malitbog residents who want to join our savings group.” The group plans to start a laundry shop in their community to take advantage of their production of detergent soap. They are also exploring putting up a coffee shop where they can sell puto cheese (steamed rice cake with cheese toppings) and kutsinta (sticky rice cake).
Malitbog New Saver’s Association has just begun their journey to having a better life, but with unity, cooperation, and hope that transforms, they are off to a promising tomorrow! And just like the palm strips they use to make a bayong, their community is put together to make each other strong.
“It is our vision to transform not just the lives of our savings group members but the entire New Malitbog community.”
– Manuel, savings group leader, Malitbog New Saver’s Association
“The savings group affected my life positively. Now I know how to make soap, start a new business, earn, and save money no matter how small.”
– Merly, member, Malitbog New Saver’s Association