For the past 30 years, Taytay Sa Kauswagan Incorporated (TSKI) has pursued its mission to serve less-privileged Filipinos and help them overcome poverty. Established in 1986 in Iloilo, TSKI has extended its reach to poor communities in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan), Bicol Region, Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, Soccsksargen (South Cotababto, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos) and Caraga.
Taytay Sa Kauswagan, hiligaynon for Tulay Sa Pag- unlad or Bridge to Progress, believes that a small livelihood loan or microfinance is the key to fighting hunger and poverty in the countryside where people have limited means and opportunity to access resources – economic, socio-cultural and political – that will uplift their lives.
It was founded by a group of businessmen led by Engr. Jose “Tay Joe” M. Tajanlangit. Its first Executive Director is the current Board of Trustees Chair Angel L. de Leon Jr. The current Executive Director is Angelo B. Solarte.
TSKI has been named the Largest Microfinance Institution in the Visayas. It received in 2005 the Ulirang Kabalikat Award Most Outstanding Microfinance Institution in the Philippines.
While the honors are appreciated, the founders simply want TSKI to be known as a Christian development organization that endeavors to help families become self-sufficient and responds to the needs of communities through collective efforts for development.
TSKI has two major microfinance services. The center- based livelihood loan program, the Proyekto Kauswagan sa Katilingban (PKK), is a solidarity loan concept for 20– 40 clients in a specific area. Individual Livelihood Loan responds to individual borrowers’ financial needs.
“Individual loans can start at P30,000 and reach P150,000. Group loans can start at P2,000 to P20,000 and grow to P30,000. The amount of the loan depends on the borrower’s needs. We also look at the character of the clients and the nature of their businesses. So, aside from granting loans, we provide basic entrepreneurial training to clients,” Solarte said.
While it is focused on micro-enterprise to promote social development, TSKI knows extending loans is not enough to ensure the sustainability and viability of micro-enterprises. More comprehensive and integrated projects or programs to benefit poorer communities have to be developed. Thus, it also provides training and educational assistance and helps in product development and community-based organizing. Micro-entrepreneurs are taught basic bookkeeping, staf ng, leadership skills, values and innovative practices.
“We also teach them disaster-risk management to protect their businesses since the country is prone to disasters,” Solarte says.
With a goal to uplift people’s lives, TSKI believes that a small livelihood loan or microfinance is the key to fighting hunger and poverty in the countryside
On product development, borrowers are taught designing, labeling and packaging. TSKI has an Advisory and Business Consultancy service to help with laboratory analysis of microbiological contents and shelf life of products of those who want to put up a new business or strengthen existing ones.
TSKI, with The Evangelical Alliance Relief Fund (TEAR Fund), has implemented since 2002 the Community and Enterprise Development Program to support poorer communities, including Indigenous Peoples (IPs). Solarte said, “IPs in the Philippines are among the marginalized sectors that need to be looked into. They lack access to basic services and various opportunities that could help them overcome poverty.”
Aetas in Sitio Nagpana, Barangay Lipata, Barotac Viejo, Iloilo are among the beneficiaries of the project. They have been taught new skills in weaving and coffee farming. TSKI helps with entrepreneurial and product development.
Nagpana Minorities Association (NAMIAS), led by adviser Pastor Dominador Elosendo, was established to re-organize the community.
“We did not expect TSKI to approve our request for financial aid because no one gave us the opportunity (before) to tap loans with lower interest rates and payable after coffee harvest,” Elosendo said. “Through a TSKI loan, we were also able to buy things to make our houses sturdier.”
“By providing us the necessary training and low-interest loans, TSKI helped us improve our farming skills. It helped us form an association to protect and safeguard our interests.”
TSKI loans have helped clients repair their houses and make them stronger and have food on the table while waiting for harvest time. The Aeta community has gained new skills and knowledge that they use to conserve and enrich their natural resources.
Another TSKI program, Farmer’s Integrated Development Assistance (FIDA) Program Framework, seeks to help marginalized rural farmers with lots of half to three hectares and without access to formal financial institutions. Kauswagan Educational Foundation, Inc. (KEFI) seeks to help the deserving children of clients. The assistance covers tuition and other school fees. Qualified beneficiaries have to be enrolled in four-year college degree programs.
“[W]e have (also) been conducting medical and dental missions with our partner institutions. We built a water refilling station for a school so students can have a clean water source. These are just some of our CSR activities,” Solarte said.
TSKI’s 2,561 employees now serve 476,301 clients nationwide. TSKI hopes to reach more provinces and institutionalize some of its programs, like training. Having been involved in efforts to alleviate poverty for three decades, TSKI aims to transform more lives, one borrower at a time
This story is part of a series of articles written by GO NEGOSYO writers being published by GoodNewsPilipinas.com every Tuesday as part of our support to Philippine businesses.