By Frances Kristine Alvero, PNA
GENERAL SANTOS CITY — The provincial government of South Cotabato has started the full implementation of its enhanced livelihood for poor and marginalized communities, with initial funding of about PHP4.3 million.
Earl Madres, provincial coordinator of the Holding Opportunities for Productive Entrepreneurship or Hope program, said Monday they have enlisted at least five community associations from parts of the province for its initial rollout.
Madres said the pilot beneficiaries have qualified to avail of combined funding of about PHP1.25 million as start-up capital for their proposed community-based entrepreneurial projects.
“We are working on enrolling five more groups this second semester,” he said in a media forum.
The official said they are currently accepting applications and project proposals from community associations, which should be composed of 15 to 30 members.
He said the individual members should be at least 18 years old, residents of South Cotabato and classified as within or below the poverty threshold.
Under the program, he said community groups may avail of soft loans from the provincial government to fund the rollout of their entrepreneurial projects.
For the first level, Madres said the qualified associations with 30 members may get seed funds of as much as PHP300,000 or least PHP10,000 per individual, with 50 percent to be released in cash and 50 percent in the form of goods or material inputs.
Successful groups may reapply for the program’s second level and receive additional funding equivalent to PHP15,000 per member, he said.
“The beneficiary-groups are given two years to pay the loan amount without collateral or interest,” Madres said.
The Hope program, which was established in June last year through an executive order issued by Governor Daisy Avance-Fuentes, replaced the Self-Employment Assistance-Kaunlaran or SEA-K program introduced by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
It adopted and enhanced the SEA-K program components, among them organizing prospective beneficiaries into community-based associations and providing them entrepreneurial skills training. (PNA)