MINERVA BC NEWMAN
CEBU CITY – The Aboitiz Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of the Aboitiz Group continues to assist some 21 cooperatives in the country to get back on track after being gravely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic via its Livelihood Recovery Project for Partner Cooperatives and Associations Nationwide (REstart).
Aboitiz Foundation President and COO Maribeth Marasigan said that the Foundation’s goal is help these cooperatives recover and become more resilient to go through the challenges of this pandemic together.
“The commitment and perseverance of our assisted community groups inspire us to continue delivering projects quickly and safely to our host communities. Supporting cooperatives and MSMEs is vital in preserving jobs and productivity,” Marasigan added.
The REstart is a three-year program which aims to support partner cooperatives and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) nationwide to restart their operations and recover from economic loss and failure brought about by the pandemic.
According to Jowell Ann Cruz, the foundation’s Education Program and Communications Manager that since 2016 it has extended over P90 million in enterprise development assistance to its beneficiaries nationwide with 21 partner cooperatives with nearly 4,000 members to date.
Cruz bared that during the first year of REstart’s implementation, partner cooperatives received “restarter” kits such as farm inputs, a bakery restarter package, and an egg-laying machine that will help their organizations rebuild their coops and provide employment opportunities to community members.
Partner cooperatives also received training to improve their business management skills and they are expected to use the restarter packages to start anew their businesses with fresh access to financing, newly-acquired skills, and suppliers/buyers to help recover their businesses, Cruz added.
Restart program is implemented in partnership with various Aboitiz business units in Aboitiz host communities and in collaboration with different government agencies, non-government organizations, and private entities.
The REstart Program is also aligned with the recovery plan of the national government which includes financial or capital assistance, supply chain and market linkages for new business, business diversification or reinvention and skills development, and retooling.
One of the organizations that benefited from this program is the “Samahan ng May Iba’t Ibang Kakayahan sa Dabaw” (SAKADAB), an organization composed of 27 physically-challenged individuals from Los Amigos, Tugbok, Davao City.
SAKADAB President Ludivico Mascarinas, Jr. thanked the Foundation for its help. “On behalf of SAKADAB Samahan, nagpa-pasalamat po kami sa Aboitiz Foundation at Davao Light sa tulong at suporta po ninyo sa aming group. Malaking tulong po ito para makapag-simula kaming muli. Maraming salamat po and God bless you more.”
Another recipient of the REstart Gina Rosil, Board of Director of the Rural Settler Multi-Purpose Cooperative (RSMPC) in Naga City, Cebu said that the program was timely because the coop was identified as one of the Redemption Centers of the City’s Focus Nutrition Assistance for Malnourished Children.
“Walang sawang pasasalamat sa Aboitiz Foundation sa tulong at nagkaroon kami ng additional income generating activity for RSMPC,” Rosil said.
Meanwhile in Albay, the Kalipunan ng Liping Pilipina (KALIPI) cooperative welcomed the donation of sewing machines with Tiwi, Albay Mayor Jaime Villanueva. KALIPI Federation president Araceli Cluterio thanked the Aboitiz Foundation and added that the donation is a big help for the organization to extend and provide livelihood opportunities to the marginalized women in the community.
Other beneficiaries of the REstart program include Lamut Multi-purpose Cooperative in La Trinidad, Benguet, Cambinocot Multipurpose Cooperative and Cobcawa Multipurpose Cooperative in Cebu each received P100,000 worth of farm inputs.
Apang Food Processor Association Skills in Alilem, Ilocos Sur received skills training on bread and pastry production while Pindangan II Multipurpose Cooperative in Camiling, Tarlac received two egg-laying machines.
The Aboitiz Foundation is the corporate foundation of the Aboitiz Group that was established in 1988 to drive change for a better world by advancing business and communities through programs on education, enterprise development, and environment.