“Alalay sa Kaunlaran,” Inc. (ASKI) or Partner in Progress in English, lives up to its name as it implements projects and services which support and extend beyond its microfinance program, with a particular focus on marginalized and disadvantaged groups. One of the projects it has undertaken was the “Increasing Indigenous People’s Income through Social Entrepreneurship and Rural Development” which was initiated after an agreement with San Miguel Food Inc. (SMFI), a large Philippine company, to establish market linkages between impoverished indigenous peoples (IPs) farmer communities in Northern Philippines and SMFI’s cassava production project. This project aims to build the capacity of farmer groups to increase cassava production and generate sustainable source of income. It also provides technical assistance in cassava farming and sustain farming traditions in the communities; extend financial support to farmers to enable them to meet the target volume of products to the market; and strengthen the leadership capacity of the organized farmer groups. With this project, the cassava growers now have a secure market through the ASKI Multipurpose Cooperative and SMFI. The project has created a positive effect on the lives of the farmers as they were able to finance the education of their children and submit their proposals to the local government units which resulted to the construction of facilities like solar dyers, multi-purpose buildings and the provision of farm equipment like thresher, tractor and granulator. The project is now being eyed to be replicated in two areas as potential supplier of granulated cassava to SMFI covering 100 hectares.
ASKI’s ‘Increasing Indigenous Peoples’ Income through Social Entrepreneurship and Rural Development’ project was winner of the ADFIAP Outstanding Development Project Award 2014 under the Local Economic Development category.