What started out with 16 members each contributing $0.18 cents weekly, has grown to 70 members with investments of over $5,000.

Elsie, a Transform participant and mother of four, started with an initial contribution of P10 to her Savings Group. Today, seven years later:

✓ she has a total savings of $138

✓ received $73 in profit shares last December

✓ loaned around $55 for additional capital for their family business

Most, if not all, of the families living in ultra-poverty have never had savings before. Living on a hand to mouth basis—many have never held more than a few hundreds of pesos in their hand their entire life.

ICM’s Savings Groups are changing that for thousands living in dire conditions.

Elsie leads the Faith Maharlika Savings Group (FAMAS). What started out as a 16-member group in 2016 with a few hundreds in savings, has now grown to 70 members with over $5,000 in accumulated funds.

With a regular contribution of as low as P10 a week, families living in ultra-poverty can start a savings, earn from a group business, and have access to emergency loans.

Last December, during FAMAS’ annual share out, each member received their share of income generated by their group business. Depending on the amount they have saved and invested, individual shares ranged from a few dollars to over $205 each.

From barely surviving on less than $0.50 cents a day, these families now have a source of passive income and a lifeline for their families.

Elsie first learned about ICM when she joined Transform in 2016. Like the other families, she and her husband struggled to provide for their four children. He was a food vendor, while Elsie was a daycare worker. Though they were both hardworking, opportunities for a better life just didn’t come by very often for those living in poverty.

Elsie felt hopeful coming into Transform. Armed with determination and a fighting spirit, she was ready for whatever the program called for. So, when she was voted Savings Group leader—Elsie stepped right up. And her life changing journey began.

She shares her secret to successful leadership, “Humility, charisma, and honesty. To glorify the Lord in everything you do. Glorify God by helping others.”

2016: Transformation starts here

Elsie joined Transform and was soon elected as the FAMAS Savings Group leader. For their first year, the 16-member group diligently saved as little as $0.18 cents weekly. They were laying the groundwork for what was to become a successful Savings Group.

2017: Member loans made available

In their second year, FAMAS started offering loans to its members with a small interest that went into their pool of funds. Soon, they also started a small rice retailing where members bought their rice instead of elsewhere.

By the end of the year, FAMAS had earned an estimated $741 from loan interests and rice business alone, helping provide income for their members. They had now grown to 27 members.

2018: Expanding further

Seeing the success of their initial business and after a year of planning, FAMAS expanded into a mini-retail store selling canned goods, rice, poultry supplies, and other basic needs.

2021: Disaster strikes

Just when families were struggling to recover from the effects of the pandemic, the province of Palawan was badly hit by Typhoon Odette in December 2021. The strong winds and floods wiped out their store and damaged their goods.

But there was no stopping Elsie and her group. They salvaged what was left of the products, dried them out, and sold them. The Savings Group remained steadfast despite the trials they faced.

2022: Rebuilding from the storm

Not long after, FAMAS rebuilt their mini-retail store, now even bigger than it was before.

After seeking government training, they ventured into a new line of business—meat processing and frozen goods.

Today, Elsie continues to move her Savings Group forward with her passion and determination. FAMAS now has an accumulated savings of P267,000 and has helped provide a better life to its members and the community.

To help and to be helped—this is our Savings Group slogan. Never lose hope, we just need to keep going despite trials. Always focus on finding a solution,” Elsie shares.

FAMAS is only one of 4,500 ICM Savings Groups across the country, helping provide a pathway to a better life for 120,000 families.

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