Wednesday, December 9, 2015

CCT Hosts TEE Plus/Pagdiriwang

The Center for Community Transformation (CCT) Group of Ministries recently hosted Pagdiriwang, an international gathering of Christians ministering to the poor.  The event brought together leaders, staff, volunteer workers and friends of Christian micro-finance organizations to celebrate God and His kingdom agenda of extending heaven to earth, through inspiring messages, eye-opening exposure visits, best practices sharing, worship and wonderful fellowship.  

Pagdiriwang is the Filipino word for celebration.  The conference is the fourth in a series of quadrennial worldwide gatherings organized by PEER Servants, a non-profit organization based in the US and a ministry partner of CCT. 

The conference coincided with the 4th Transformative Economic Empowerment (TEE), an annual training conference jointly organized by CCT and the Ka-Partner Network composed of PEER Servants, Hope International,, Five Talents and CCT.  It brings in micro-finance practitioners from around the world to identify and discuss sound practices in micro-finance.

The organizations represented and their countries of origin or operation were:
  • Action Contre La Misère (ACLAM), Haiti
  • Assist Community Initiatives (ACI), Uganda
  • Christian Action for Empowering Church and Community (CAFECC), Uganda
  • Christian Empowerment Micro-finance (CEMFIN), Zambia
  • Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services, Egypt
  • Christian Service Society (CSS), India 
  •,  South Africa, USA;
  • Hope International, Congo, China, Rwanda, USA
  • Integrity Foundation, India
  • Invest Credit, Moldova 
  • Iris Philippines Ministries, Philippines
  • Kallarisunchis, Peru 
  • Peer Servants, Burundi, Haiti, Uganda, USA 
  • Potter’s House, Guatemala
  • Urwego Opportunity Bank, Rwanda
  • The Wesleyan Church-Global Partners, Philippines
  • Women's Initiative for Health Education and Economic Development, Cameroon
  • Y Gro HEED, Sri Lanka
Other participants were friends or individuals working with these organizations from Mexico, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, and South Sudan.

The main speakers were David and Kathi Cohen, founders of Moringa Associates based in Australia; Reverend Calisto Odede, senior pastor of Nairobi Baptist Church, Kenya; and David Lim, a co-founder of CCT and currently president of China Ministries International-Philippines,    

Plenary speakers were Ruth Callanta, president and founder of CCT, Ron Chua, professor at the Asian Institute of Management, and Peter Lees, founder of Sharpening Stone Enterprises, an Australian organization. 

For their exposure trips the participants visited street dwellers, micro entrepreneurs and children ministered to by CCT.  

PEER Servants is a volunteer-based organization that partners with indigenous, autonomous micro-finance institutions in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean to empower the materially poor through micro-enterprise development.  Its first three worldwide conferences were Kopano, held in South Africa in 2004, Ricchari, held in Peru in 2007, and Reciprocity, held in the US in 2011.      
Pagdiriwang was held at the CCT Tagaytay Retreat and Training Center from November 8 – 14, 2015.

Dr. David Lim speaks on Experiencing God's Kingdom based
on Isaiah 58:1 - 14.
David and Kathi Cohen leading a morning devotion during the
eight-day conference. 
(Above) TEE attendees meet a group of micro-entrepreneurs during an
exposure trip, and (below) learn about the entries in a passbook
in which micro finance loans are recorded. 

A lechon (roast pig), centerpiece of the Filipino buffet,
intrigues guests.. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Papa Danz: Sorbetero-Turned-Siomai Maker

Danilo Papalid's siomai microenterprise has improved his family's life
and created jobs for friends and neighbors. 

Sorbetero. Back in 2008, Danilo Papalid of Basak Pardo, Cebu City made ‘dirty ice cream’ using a manual ice cream maker and peddled it from a wooden cart.  The work was so difficult that he got sick and had to undergo three months of medication. When he recovered he left ice cream making forever.

For a year he worked as a vendor of siomai (Chinese dumplings), but quickly discovered that he disliked working for someone else. He saved up P12,000 before he resigned, used this amount to purchase a trisikad (bicycle with a cart attached), and started his own siomai business. During the first few months he made and sold the siomai himself.  He gave the business his own nickname: Papa Danz. 

Papa Danz's siomai comes with a hot and spicy sauce.  
Tweaking a Siomai Recipe. One might assume Danilo used his former employer’s siomai recipe to start his business, but he didn't.  He used a recipe he learned from a short culinary arts course he attended when he was younger. However, he says, “Mahal yun,” implying that if he strictly followed the recipe, he would not be able to sell his siomai at just P3.00 per piece.  So he tweaked the recipe and used sayote (chayote) as an extender.    

He also made his own sauce. While siomai in Manila comes with soy sauce, calamansi and toasted garlic, Danilo’s siomai comes with a spicy sauce as is common in Cebu. He altered an old sauce recipe and uses TVP (texturized vegetable protein), plenty of garlic and siling labuyo (hot chili pepper) in it.  "Siomai fans in Cebu like the sauce hot," he explains. 

Creating Jobs. A series of loans from the Center for Community Transformation Credit Cooperative helped him build up a small fleet of 15 trisikads, buying them one at a time, about one month apart. The trisikads are equipped with a steamer, a portable stove to keep the siomai warm, an ice box to keep soft drinks cold, and a motorcycle battery and lights for vendors who work  into the early hours of the morning.

Each new trisikad meant a new job for a friend or acquaintance. Many of the vendors who work for Danilo are former ice cream vendors he got to know during his ice cream selling days. 
A siomai vendor heads  for a day of  work.  His trisikad is equipped
with a steamer, portable butane stove and ice box.  Hanging at top
top center is
puso or rice cooked in woven young coconut leaves.
Behind the vendor is netting he can lean on when there's time to
take a quick nap. 

“Niyaya ko sila na magtinda ng siomai para sa akin.  Sabi ko sa kanila mas sigurado ang kita sa siomai. Ang siomai, malakas kahit mainit, kahit malamig. Pwede  yan pang ulam. Pwedeng pangtanghalian, pwedeng pang hapunan, pwede rin pang meryenda. ("I invited them to sell siomai for me. I told them that you earn better income from siomai. Siomai sales are high in cold or hot weather. You can eat it with rice, for lunch, supper or as a snack.”) “Apektado ng climate change ang negosyo sa ice cream" ("Climate change has affected the ice cream business"), Danilo volunteers, explaining that on rainy or stormy days ice cream sales are low, and ice cream makers can only expect to earn much when someone rents a cart or buys ice cream by the canister for a private gathering. 

The vendors receive their pay (18% of their sales) every 15th and 30th of the month.  They earn extra by selling soft drinks and miniature puso, Cebu's 'hanging rice' that is cooked in woven young coconut leaves. Those who work during the day station themselves at the public market and outside schools.  Night vendors wait outside internet cafes and night clubs for customers. The jobs have helped to improve the lives of his workers.  “Dati gasera lang ang gamit nila, ngayon may kuryente na sila.  Dati walang tubig, ngayon may tubig na sila,” he says.  ("Their houses used to be only lit with kerosene lamps.  They have electricity now, and water as well.") 

Another way Danilo has created jobs is by buying puso from his neighbors. He and his wife, Roselyn, used to make the puso themselves. They would weave the coconut leaves at night and boil the rice in the early mornings. This left them exhausted and, Danny admits, would make him hot-headed with the workers. So he decided to buy the puso from neighbors instead. This move means sure sales each day for puso makers in the community. 
With ambulant vendors to do the selling, Danilo did the cooking for about a year. In 2014, he trained a nephew to make the siomai and relinquished the job of cooking to him. Today he oversees operations and takes care of purchasing. 

Impact on Family. The success of the business has allowed Danilo and Roselyn to move son James, 10, to a private school. Daughter Abigail, has the privilege of being in a science class at the local public school, so there is no need to move her to a better school, Danilo says.  

Profits have also allowed the purchase of a 75-square meter lot where a two-story building is nearing completion. He intends to use the second floor as his family’s residence and the ground floor for business. He was also able to purchase a ¼ hectare piece of rice farm for P70,000 and so far has received profits from four harvests. 

Early in 2015 Roselyn gave birth to fraternal twins, Harley and Harold. Danilo was already starting to sell siomai in Argao, his hometown, at that time. However, because Roselyn could not manage caring for twins alone, expansion had to be temporarily discontinued.

Danilo hopes to keep his business going steadily, knowing how much it has helped his own family and many others in his community. "Thanks be to God for always being by my side," he says.  

Danilo Papalid was a semi-finalist in the 2015 Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards.  

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Jatulans: Hardworking Miswa and Canton Makers

Hard Times. Arthur and Nida Jatulan, newly married, started out selling clothing in Rizal province and did extremely well. Then, hard times came when the youngest of their four daughters was diagnosed with cancer. “For two years we spent more time in hospitals than at home,” Nida says.  “We sold everything we owned to pay for hospital bills and procedures including two operations and chemotherapy.” The child, however, passed away at age four. 

Emotionally exhausted and with all their resources drained, the couple decided to return to Arthur’s childhood home in Samar.  For five years, they worked in his parents’ copra business but earned only enough for their daily basic needs.  “It was obvious that if we stayed in Samar our daughters would never go to college,” Nida explains, so late in 1999 they returned to Rizal.

Business Beginnings.  To be able to build up capital, the couple borrowed the year-end bonuses of two nieces. They used this to buy sotanghon (Chinese vermicelli) which they retailed to stores.  By February 2000 they paid back the loans and with their earnings of P3,000, decided to start making miswa for a living. Miswa is a thin, brittle noodle used in humble dishes such as ginisang patola and batchoy TagalogFor advice, they went to a relative experienced in the business.  The relative not only gave them information generously, but also let them hire one of his workers.

The Jatulans started out buying six sacks of flour every other day.  The worker made this into miswa every two days, and Nida and Arthur delivered the finished product to public markets in Rizal and Metro Manila seven days a week.  Despite their hard work, the couple and their children still lived a hand-to-mouth existence. 

The miswa-making process involves stretching dough by
 hand (above) and drying it in a charcoal-fired dryer (below). 
A Hand Up. Things began to change, though, when Nida joined the CCT Credit Cooperative in 2004.  With a series of loans,  starting with the standard initial amount of P4,000 they were able to hire three more workers – two miswa makers and a runner.  Instead of their going to the market for ingredients and supplies every two days, a company began delivering a truckload of flour, salt, cassava flour and packaging supplies every 15 days. By 2007, their house, previously made almost entirely of old roofing sheets and plywood, had cement walls and a nice, tiled kitchen.  They also bought a refrigerator, a dining set, and cell phones, and had a landline phone installed.  The eldest daughter married before finishing college, but the two younger ones earned degrees in business administration and marketing. 

Expansion.  After finishing college, Karine began to help run the business, particularly with quality control, and the family set their minds on expansion.  In 2012, they bought the rights to a 1500-square meter piece of land in San Jose, Antipolo and built a production area about five times the size of their old one. They also built a charcoal dryer capable of drying 330 large bilaos (flat baskets) of miswa at one time.

By this time, the business was providing jobs for 15 persons, mostly neighbors or acquaintances from Samar. About 30 percent of the product was being packaged under the label IJK Miswa and sold in public markets and talipapas (temporary neighborhood markets) in the cities of Pasig, Marikina, and Antipolo, and in the province of Rizal. About 20 percent was delivered to two clients in Taguig who repacked it into smaller packages which were then hawked by ambulant vendors. About 50 percent was packed under the brand name Crystal for a Chinese client who supplies the product to stores such as Robinsons, Rustan Supercenters, Shopwise, Cherry, Landmark and selected Puregold outlets.  A certain percent was also exported to the US by this Chinese client.

Almost from the start, Nida and Arthur had dreamed of making pancit canton. Canton, Nida points out, is eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, is served by all kinds of food establishments – from lowly carinderias, to canteens, fast food diners and full service, high-end restaurants – and is always on the table during special occasions.  Demand is high all year round and shoots up around Christmas.  Miswa, she adds, is eaten all year round but demand drops during the hot months and during the Christmas holidays. The dream to make pancit canton had to wait for several years though, because unlike miswa which is mixed and shaped entirely by hand, one needs expensive equipment to make pansit canton. 

A Dream Comes True.  In June 2015, Nida received a loan of P300,000 from CCT. They used a portion of this amount to build a pancit canton production area, and much of the rest was used to make initial payment on equipment such as a mixer, a roller, and a cutter. In August, the Jatulan family's dream came true when they finally began making pancit canton . 

“All this is no longer for me,” Nida says, indicating the  miswa and canton production areas with a sweep of her hand. “This is for my daughters and to ensure a good future for my grandchildren.”

Arthur and Nida Jatulan today, with daughters Irene (second from left) and Karine, sons-in-law
and grandchildren. Nida was a semifinalist in the 2015 Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards program.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Soapsuds and Savings

Digna Nibay started a group laundry business
 that has provided jobs for more than 
three dozen neighbors. 
The group uses machines to wash most
 bedding and towels used by 
CCT Retreat and Training Center guests,
 but those with tough stains are scrubbed by hand. 

Digna Nibay worked as a laundry shop employee in Tagaytay City for much of her adult life (and certainly has seen more soapsuds than the average person).  Four years ago she made a move that changed her life and the lives of many in her community when she joined a savings group and was elected president.

Along with about 120 of her neighbors, Digna, 61, is a saver in a program of the Center for Community Transformation called the savings and credit association. Here, a group of individuals meet once a week to make contributions to a savings fund. 

During their first cycle, she and 16 neighbors saved P79,000.00 by contributing P50.00 a week or any bigger amount they could afford to a savings fund. It was the first time in her entire life that Digna had put away money for a future need.  “Before I joined the savings group I had never saved a single centavo,” she confesses. “I didn’t know anything about saving money.” A carpenter’s wife and mother of six, she used part of her savings to buy a washing machine, resigned from the laundry shop she worked for, and went into the laundry business on her own.

Thirty-two members joined the group’s second cycle. They saved P173,050.00 and earned P99,193 interest on loans made to members to finance the sale of rice and butchered hog.  For its third cycle, 94 of 120 members saved up P650,000 and earned P400,000 interest from loans similar to those in the second cycle.

In 2013, Digna started a group laundry business composed of members of her savings group.  The business, which takes in laundry and ironing from the nearby CCT Retreat and Training Center, has provided jobs or an additional source of income for more than three dozen neighbors as launderers, ironers, or delivery persons. 

The launderers and ironers work eight-to-five and receive P330 per day plus overtime pay when they have to work past eight hours. Eighteen tricycle drivers earn P60 each time they transport a load of laundry to or from the retreat center.     

Actually, Digna could have used her savings to buy more washing machines and she could have hired her neighbors to work for her.  Instead, she created a laundry group and joined them as one of the laundrywomen, bringing with her the knowhow gained from having worked in a laundry shop.   

Women in Digna’s community have been able to afford things they wouldn’t have been able to pay for without the motivation to save up provided by their being in a savings group.  For instance, 25-year old Abby, her husband, and their five-year old daughter used to live with Abby’s mother. The couple used their savings to start building a house of their own next to Abby’s mother’s house.  Lita Tuquero bought a fishing boat that now provides relatives in Bohol with a livelihood.  Corazon Alias paid for the installation of a water meter and now enjoys the services of the local water district. Lorie Manalo added a terrace to her house. Monalisa Cebedo bought household appliances. And Lea Layno built an anteroom that now serves as a sari-sari store.  

More importantly, Digna says that because their jobs keep them busy, the women now spend less and less time sitting around playing tong-its or drinking. “It was common for the women in my neighborhood to start drinking by sundown,” she says.  Women from 48 households are currently involved with the savings program and about 98 percent of those households have undergone transformation.  

Digna has also organized a savings group composed of children from her own neighborhood, and started two other savings groups for adults – mostly relatives –  in two nearby communities.  The weekly meetings of all savings groups involve Bible study and prayer.  

“For a long time,” Digna says, “I prayed for a way to introduce my family to Jesus and bring them closer to God.” She belongs to a large clan and relationships involve her own siblings, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in law and their siblings, nieces, nephews, grandchildren and in-laws! The savings program is the answer to that prayer.

Because of her efforts, Digna was nominated to the 2015 Thurman Award program of Hope International and was named honorable mention for Asia.

The award, named after Eric Thurman, first CEO of Hope, is given to men or women who are an inspiration to others,  creative or entrepreneurial, compassionate, family- and community- oriented,  have overcome significant challenges, have demonstrated strength of character, and  who have demonstrated life change as a direct result of joining a savings group. 

Like her neighbors, Digna has undergone significant change. Her life used to revolve just around family and work. Being president of her savings group allowed her to discover leadership and organizing skills she never knew she had, and gave her a venue for helping others.

So why does she do what she does? “When blessings come my way, I want to share them,” she simply says.

Digna Nibay holding her plaque, with Malu Garcia
of the Center for Community Transformation Inc. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

CCT Founder Awarded for Social Services

The awardees (left to right):Jaymie Pizarro, Dr. Carmen Valdez, Maribel Ongpin, Ruth Callanta,
Chona Gosiaco, Chef Jessie Sincioco, Dr. Jacqueline Dominguez and Raquel Choa,
with officers of Security Bank Corporation and Zonta Club of Makati and Environs. 

Ruth Callanta, founder and president of the Center for Community Transformation (CCT) Group of Ministries, was recently named one of 8 Bravo Empowered Women by Security Bank and Zonta Club Makati and Environs. 

The award was conceptualized to “celebrate and honor women who demonstrate an unwavering commitment to leadership and service, empowering themselves and others toward the country’s economic and social progress.”   

Mrs. Callanta received the award in the social services category. In a short acceptance speech she said,

“I would like to thank Zonta and the Security Bank for recognizing our efforts at sharing the love of God to our street people, to orphans, the fatherless,  fisher folk, factory workers, micro entrepreneurs and communities at large which are very, very poor in the Philippines.  We thank you for recognizing our efforts and affirming that, indeed, it is possible to break generational poverty, to break generational street dwelling if we, with one heart, one mind, one spirit do our very best to reach out, to care and to show love to the Filipino poor.  Indeed it is a recognition that it is possible to change lives and to transform lives from one generation to another."  

“Thank you, too, for challenging us to do a lot more until there will be no more weeping and wailing, that people will live in houses they built, people will enjoy the fruit of their labor, people will have peace, social justice, and prosperity.  Thank you for bringing that to the fore.  May all glory, honor, and praise belong to God and God alone."

Since it was founded in 1992, CCT has assisted micro entrepreneurs, street dwellers, needy children and youth, factory workers, fisher folk, rice farmers, sugarcane plantation workers, and indigenous people. In 2014 it helped more than 389,000 individuals through programs in microfinance, education, skills training, savings mobilization, insurance, health, housing, and boat acquisition.

The other awardees were Maribel Ongpin for arts, culture and heritage,  Chef Jessie Sincioco for culinary arts, Dr. Jacqueline Dominguez for science and technology, Dr. Carmen Lourdes Valdez for education, Ma. Chona Gosiaoco for media, Raquel Choa for business and Jaymie Pizarro for sports.

The awardees received a trophy with a bronze sculpture of the figure 8 designed by Wilson William Baldemor.   

This is the first time the 8 Bravo Empowered Women awards were given out. The awards program will be held every two years from hereon, according to Zonta Club officers. Zonta is a nonsectarian, global organization of professionals empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy. 

The awarding ceremony was held on June 9, 2015 at the Jonathan Y. Dy Hall, Security Bank Building, Ayala Avenue, Makati.  

Ruth Callanta: "Thank you for affirming that 
 indeed it is possible to break
generational  poverty,
 to break generational street dwelling."

CCT's Ate Ruth flanked by Bee Bee Chua, Security
Bank first vice president (left) and Rosie Go, Zonta
Club of Makati and Environs president.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

HOPE CEO Speaks at CCT Annual Membership Meeting

Peter Greer: "Growth is an outcome that God might or may not bless us with, 
but what is much more important is,
 'Are we remaining true and are we remaining faithful?' "
Peter Greer, chief executive officer of HOPE International and co-author of an important new book titled Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches, was the keynote speaker at the 24th annual membership meeting of the Center for Community Transformation Group of Ministries, held in March.  HOPE International, based in Pennsylvania, USA, is a ministry partner  of  CCT.

"Organizations that start with a clear and compelling call to proclaim Christ over time drift away from that founding identity. This is mission drift, and every organization is susceptible to drifting," Peter said.  He shared the following five points that can help leaders make sure their organizations do not drift from their mission.

  • Believe the Gospel matters.  "Our theology matters.  Where there is loose theology, there is loose practice, and where there is loose practice, individuals are not making the necessary decisions to remain mission true." 
  • Believe that drift happens.  "Make practical decisions to prevent it from happening.  Organizations that remain 'mission true' have a high level of intentionality."  
  • Differentiate the mission from the means.  "Mission is what never changes, but the means [to accomplish the mission] are going to continue to change and adapt."
  • Hire for heart and head.  "It is so easy to be impressed with a resume, with experience, and credentials that we forget to ask the most important question of mission and personal passions."
  • You get what you measure.  "Faithfulness is our calling, not growth.  Growth can be wildly misleading if it causes us not to ask other questions of quality and faithfulness.  Growth is an outcome that God might or may not bless us with, but what is much more important is, 'Are we remaining true and are we remaining faithful?' " 
Peter ended his message with practical suggestions for three groups of stakeholders at CCT.  

He challenged board members to be the guardians of the CCT Mission.  "Make sure there is long-term faithfulness, a long walk of obedience in the same direction," he said. 

He asked corporate members who are given a special position at CCT to "bring a word of truth or rebuke to help us see what we can't see ourselves."

Finally, he reminded staff members that, "It is possible to be so focused on our mission that we forget our mission to people that live in the same home. He said that his prayer for CCT staff is that "there would be full alignment with what you are trying to see in the families you serve as well as in the families you live with; that you would be blessed as you bring the good news of Jesus Christ to all corners of the Philippines as you would be blessed as you bring the good news of Jesus Christ to all corners of your home."

CCT's 24th annual membership meeting was held at the Wack-wack Golf and Country Club in Mandaluyong City, on March 19, 2015.

For inquiries about where to purchase copies of Mission Drift in the Philippines, please call 524-18-10, local 214.

Friday, March 20, 2015

'Mission Drift' Co-Author Speaks, Launches Book in GenSan

Peter Greer, Mission Drift co-author

Peter Greer, co-author of the book Mission Drift:The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches  gave a lecture on what it takes to remain true to one's mission, in an event sponsored by the Center for Community Transformation (CCT). 

Greer is  president and CEO of HOPE International, a global nonprofit organization focused on addressing both physical and spiritual poverty through microfinance. HOPE is a ministry partner of CCT. 

The lecture was accompanied by the first international launch of Mission Drift and was attended by nearly a hundred pastors, Christian businessmen and ministry workers from General Santos City and Davao.

In the book, Greer states that,  "without careful attention, faith-based organizations drift from their founding mission."  His talk centered on factors that can help organizations remain 'mission true'. He mentioned Harvard University and YMCA as examples of organizations that have drifted far from their original missions. "There was never one moment, one decision or one person that contributed to the drift. Many factors happening simultaneously contribute to drift," he stressed.

The talk was followed by a short question-and-answer session, lunch, and book signing. 

The lecture and book launch, CCT's first public event in GenSan, was held on March 18, 2015 at the C2.ECA Function Hall, ECA Building, National Highway, General Santos City.  

Left to right:  Jan Ced, GenSan businessman; Nathan de Lyster, executive director of HOPE Hong Kong,
Peter Greer; and Ruth Callanta, president and founder of the Center for Community Transformation. 

Photos:  Mae Bulaquina