It was a hot and humid afternoon but neither the sweltering heat nor the humidity seemed to bother the group of women happily exchanging stories inside a small nipa hut in Bgy. Hagakhakin in Gumaca, Quezon.
These closely knit women, mostly mothers and senior citizens, keep the hut clean and tidy for their monthly meetings.
They come here not only to meet and mingle with each other but also to pay their dues and receive loan releases as members and beneficiaries of the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development - Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD-MRI).
One of the women is Nanay Susana Cabangon who weaves "bilaos" for a living. Through CARD-MRI, she was able to secure a loan that helped expand her business. With the development of her bilao-making business, she was able to support her family and send her 11 children to school.
She is thankful to CARD-MRI for supporting her and trusting her capability to pay because only through CARD-MRI and like institutions can low-income families be able to avail of loans and open bank accounts.
Vice President Leni Robredo sat in one of their community center meetings last July 15 to listen to the experience of the community. Through her dialogue with the group, she learned that "bilao" making succeeds in Gumaca because CARD MRI helps connect "bilao" makers with direct buyers helping them fetch higher prices for their products and get faster return for their investment.
“Nakita ko parang ang dami nang ginagawang livelihood pero hindi siya tumatagal kasi iyong mga ginagawa nila wala pong market, walang merkado. Kaya parang nawawalan ng gana iyong mga kababaihan na lumahok dahil iyong pagod nila hindi naman naibabalik sa kanila,” Robredo said.
“Nakakatuwang makita ang modelo ninyo dito sa CARD at gagawin po naming itong inspirasyon para makatulong sa ibang marahil ay hindi pa naabot ng inyong programa,” she added.
Drawing from the inspiring stories of Nanay Susana and the “nanays” of Bgy. Hagakhakin, VP Leni hopes to weave together successful development models to replicate or scale up in other parts of the country.