ComDev Projects Make Strides in KCC Barangays
The KCCDFI (now KCCDMFI) was founded in 2005 on the twin mandates of creating livelihoods and building communities, but it has neglected the latter to focus on the former. Fast forward a decade later to a 2016 KCCDMFI board meeting tackling reorganization. New trustee Illuminada (Luming) Cabigas had proposed the setting up of Kasanyangan Community Clubs or KCCs in KCCDMFI barangays as vehicles for mutual aid and protection.
Not a few other trustees and executive staff were lukewarm to the idea, citing the problems of funds and overburdened staff. But Luming won over the doubters with her impeccable logic and some fundamental truths. She stressed that microfinance per se cannot address all the issues arising out of poverty: income, housing, education, health. This is where community development comes in which fosters unity among people to help them confront their problems such as lack of housing, toilets, electricity, etc.
Hence the concept of a local organization—Kasanyangan Community Club—empowered, able to raise funds and to harness other resources including those of government. Community development proceeds in tandem with business development. But, in the best traditions of community organizing, Luming emphasizes that the birthing process will eventually have to “let go” because the local organization will have to learn to stand on its own. “No government institution or do-gooder NGO” can achieve the organization’s goals otherwise it will “perpetuate dependency”, she adds.
Thus Luming has helped formulate seven goals for KCCs to be integrated into people’s daily lives. These include livelihood training, entrepreneurial development, decent housing, access to health and social services, education for all, environmental protection, and preservation of arts, culture and sports. After all, Luming concludes, community organizing is a way of life, not a project.
Luming is a business administration graduate magna cum laude, and a certified public accountant. Now in her 80s, Luming retired from the Land Bank as senior vice president in 1996, headed the People’s Credit and Finance Corporation (PCFC) in 2003, and was president-chief executive officer of Landbank Countrywide Development Fund until 2010. In 2001 PCFC granted Kasanyangan Foundation, Inc. microfinance unit (KCCDFI’s precursor) a P3 million loan whose renewal hinged on KFI’s spinning off its microfinance unit into another organization. There was apprehension over KFI’s social orientation that might undermine its microfinance operations; KFI had no income-generating projects. PCFC granted the newly-formed KCCDFI a P50 million credit fund.
Luming joined the KCCDFI board of trustees in 2014 replete with ideas on how to perk up the organization. Local KCCs were established preceded by orientation sessions in 2016-17. In November 2017 450 representatives from 80 barangays met in a general assembly to form a KCC Federation. Current federation president is Yolanda Sembrano of Barangay Tetuan.
KCCs have four sources of funds: individual members’ savings fund with a P20 weekly minimum deposit qualifying non-client beneficiaries to be KCC members; the KCC center fund created through KCC fund raising campaigns which netted P1.4 million in 2018 and P800,000 in 2019; the Damayan Fund consisting of P200 yearly payments per member which provides a death benefit of P20,000 to members regardless of cause of death; and KCCDMFI which allocates specific sums for projects.
Grace Beron Rosales, head of KCCDMFI’s Community Development (ComDev) unit said that at the beginning it was not clear how the KCC scheme would develop. But as community projects, big and small, started to emerge, things began to fall into place. Examples of small projects are free haircuts and “Operation Tuli”, a free circumcision activity undertaken in coordination with seven military doctors, which benefited 122 boys in one day.
Barangay Tolosa in Zamboanga City’s east coast has 130 members spread among four centers which meet in succession each Thursday morning Barangay Tolosa KCC decided to have a bigger center building which was constructed along with a flush toilet. Barangay Mampang also in the city’s east coast has a perennial water shortage problem. The barangay has 30 KCCDMFI centers and the decision was to construct a deep well in one center using KCC funds of P17,000. Projects in Barangay Patalon, Talisayan and Barangay Lumbangan, Tumaga pertained to center renovation and purchase of furniture and fixtures, all from local KCC funds. Bigger projects include construction of a foot bridge, a dryer and installation of a water system which are featured on this and subsequent pages.
Grace affirms that the KCCs have, in fact, contributed to KCCDMFI’s outreach and brought in new client-members. As well, potential leaders are identified as in touching base with 4Ps links (4Ps is a conditional cash transfer program of government). Some barangay folk ask, “Why have the projects come only now?” Grace says that the comdev concept is an organizing strategy in the field, integration within the community which, so far, has hardly been practiced.
Step-by-step community organizing is laborious and time-taking. KCC simplifies the process by calling center leaders to an FGD (focus group discussion) on vision-mission-goals and structures. Shortly after point persons are identified, and plans are drawn up for the broader processes of community integration, and skills training in mobilizing people, needs identification, accessing resources and networking.
Grace says that the KCC federation can be tapped to help in information campaigns on programs and services, and on activities planned for members. In the past communications coursed through field operations suffered delays because field personnel were preoccupied with collection and outreach. The KCC federation affords direct ground-level contact to people. Future plans include training in garment making, financial literacy (in partnership with business development unit), toilet provisioning in Talon-Talon and information dissemination on access to health.