Something is developing in the provinces of Lanao – Sur and Norte. This development is a community-based collaborative effort towards a self-sustaining and community-driven economic development. The idea was not to make one or the community rich, rather to provide sustenance for a daily living and a support system in an economically challenged setting that is both directly and indirectly affected by disasters, and peace and order issue. But as what these Lanao folks are known for, they persist to survive for they are traders and business-minded people.

With hopes and proper training to improve their economic status, these people, mostly women, formed in groups for what is then called Saving and Internal Lending Community (SILC) with help from Catholic Relief Services, USAID Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance, and Duyog Marawi.

A total of 29 groups have been formed in the province with 53,500 of Rizki group as the highest amount of savings and 2,020 of Baraka group as the lowest amount of savings by a group as of January 2020. Through contributing an agreed amount on a weekly basis, group savings and loan funds are made available from which a member can avail to be used as additional capital for a member’s retail or small-scale business.

Jamilah Abdullah Macabantog, 47, remembers how hard it has been to run her retail business when she started it four years ago.

“Emanto na mas mapea. Kasi na so kapnegosyo na dadn sa akal ka gira kowan na pkadelay… Na emnto na bapya tonaa oras na kapakae a adna makawgop rka.” (It’s better now. In having a business, there are delays…But now there is this (SILC) that can support you) Macabantog, said.

This holds true to Mrs. Johaeinah Pala Daksila who agreed saying “Miyakaogop ogop rkami ka gyoto myada so kapananda… miyada so kapangotang sa mga pd a tao ka skami bo e di makapamagogopa.” (This has helped us a lot since it stopped us from pawning and being indebted to other people since we support each other).

Both Macabantog, member, and Daksila, group chairperson, came from the Rizki group in Brgy. Pacalundo, Balo-i, Lanao del Norte. Through paying their contribution from 10 – 1000 weekly, this group has a savings of more than 50,000 php. The group has been providing small loan funds to its member that supported them in running their businesses.

To them, it helped them run their business easily unlike before. They can now get their daily sustenance from their earnings. As they said, “kiyalowalowagan tawn” (it eased things for us).

According to Ms. Macabantog, she found a support group because of the project.

Initiative such as this does not only help financially, but it also brings a community together.