Feature: Aklan women get empowered through entrepreneurship
by Venus G. Villanueva
Kalibo, Aklan (16 February) -- The province of Aklan through the Aklan Gender and Development Commission (AGADC) chaired by Governor Carlito S. Marquez has started the ball rolling in empowering some skilled but determined Aklanon women bent to overcome the "binding ropes" of poverty by providing them seed capital for their various entrepreneurial ventures.
The seed capital, amounting to P100,000.00, came as an offshoot last year when the province celebrated Women's Month with the theme centered on "Go Negosyo".
"Go Negosyo" is one of the programs of the national government to encourage Filipinos, especially women, to venture into the world of business to improve not only their quality of life but those of their children's.
One of Aklan's activities last year included a skills training on food processing initiated by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authroity (TESDA) attended by women from various towns here.
To support the women after their skills training, the AGADC provided the group with P100,000.00 seed capital, which was divided among twenty association members, providing each with P5,000.00.
In providing them the fund to start their respective businesses, Governor Marquez assured them that the fund will be interest-free. However, they will pay back through a roll-over scheme, so others will also benefit from the program. They were also assured that once they have paid in full, they could again borrow, but the amount will be higher, thus increasing their capital for their business.
Calling themselves "Empowered Women of Aklan" or EWA, the group is also assisted by the Department of Trade and Industry, the TESDA and other related agencies in their business as to packaging, preservation and other important business details.
Bernadette Honiggman, one of the group members, said each of them has her own business venture according to her skills. The women are engaged in food processing like tocino-making, longganiza and many others.
Honiggman, for her part, said she engages in baking cakes, cookies, carrot muffins, strawberry muffins and oatmeal muffins. She sells her products at the Provincial Capitol canteen and other outlets.
"My products are always a sell-out and I'm lucky because I also get inputs from the Provincial Cooperative Office (PCO) on how to manage my business. We are really grateful to the Provincial Government for giving us this opportunity to empower us women and improve our quality of life", Honiggman told AGADC members.
The EWA has its own set of officers and the group meets regularly for updates on their individual ventures.
The AGADC is hopeful that members of EWA will grow, so that more Aklanon women will be empowered, thus being true to this year's Women's Month celebration, "Babae, tagumpay ka ng Bayan". (PIA) [top]