When a group of 19 Transform participants decided to form the Amazing Savings and Agri-marine Multi-purpose Association (ASAMA), they had no idea that in just four years they would have 120 members and several thriving businesses. The road to success has had a lot of ups and downs, but now they are seeing the fruit of their hard work.
After Transform, they slowly gained more members and put energy into new enterprises. Their sari-sari dry goods store
, rice resale, and loan businesses were very profitable, but their vegetable business failed after insects ruined their plants and their investment.
Looking for other opportunities, the group discussed opening a bakery since the community’s closest bakery was 21 miles (34 kilometers) away. They had potential to earn a lot, but they did not have enough capital to get started. The leaders wanted to apply for a grant from the Department of Labor and Employment, but some were skeptical. No one had tried it before. What if the bakery also failed?
Rowena, AMASA’s leader, became more confident as she attended the Prevail meetings and eventually the group agreed with her. “The reason we strove so hard to get accredited by DOLE and be able to receive their grant was because of what we heard during our Prevail meeting,” Rowena said. “We were inspired by the success stories from other SGs.”
The group did not hear anything for a whole year, and they were overjoyed when they were finally told they would be given PHP750,000 (US$13,825) worth of bakery equipment and PHP50,000 (US$922) for training and ingredients!
Their dream was put on hold because of the pandemic, and it was not until September 2022 that the group finally received the bakery equipment and grant. They had a brief setback when they realized that the equipment was broken and they couldn’t return it, but they eventually found someone to repair the equipment. Their community has no electricity, so they set up cost-effective solar powered lamps for the bakery and got an expensive generator as a backup. Finally, their bakery was in business!
Now AMASA employs several savings group members as bakers and deliverymen. Antonio, a group member who had experience as a baker, was delighted to take up the post of master baker, churning out 15 different kinds of bread and cookies every day. Their fledgling business has already been bringing in PHP35,000 (US$645) a month!
Placido, the group chairman, was grateful for how far they had come together and how ICM supported them every step of the way. He was especially thankful for their savings group coordinator. “If it weren’t for the things we learned and the ideas shared with us [in Prevail], we wouldn’t be here.”
“I am thankful to those people who sincerely helped us, by providing the knowledge of how to stand on our own feet and how to help ourselves.”