To the benefit of the Community Savings Groups (CSGs) of Valenzuela, building links and acting as a bridge between groups are part of Josephine Osea’s duties as head of both the Cooperative Development Office and the Local Economic and Investment Promotion Office of the city.
“What we are doing with the CSGs’ livelihood is that we are linking them to national government agencies (NGAs) that can assist through the materials they need for their livelihood,” explains Josephine.
She cites the example of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) giving the CSGs equipment and other resources for the production of mushrooms. Josephine particularly advocates for growing and making products out of mushrooms, as it is an idea that she, herself, has thought of and proposed to the city mayor in 2016.
“Valenzuela doesn’t have a product that it’s known for, and we don’t have a lot of vacant lot for other agricultural products, so I came up with mushrooms. They only need small spaces, and they are easy to grow. Right now, the groups are using the mushrooms to make food products. They are also giving seminars to schools and barangays on mushroom production. Later on, when production has ramped up and there are many products that can be made using mushrooms, we can link them,” she says.
Aside from this, Josephine’s office also monitors the CSGs through a tool (a monthly report submitted by the CSGs) that will allow them to see the progress of these groups and identify areas where they can help.
“With the monitoring tool we’ve formulated, we can see the problems encountered and we can provide recommendations in terms of assistance from the local government. Whatever insight we gain from their reports, we will study them and exert more effort so that they will continue to grow. The lessons learned from the Move Up project will also be cascaded to other barangays,” says Josephine.
Before the Move Up project, she said that they conducted livelihood programs as well as financial literacy seminars for groups before giving them grants for the programs. However, she found one striking difference when the Move Up project came and started the CSGs—she saw that people are taught not to rely on grants.
When asked about her biggest takeaway on the project, Josephine shares, “The Move Up project taught them to stand on their own. They can generate their own earnings, train their own people, and they will produce something of their own that they will love more because they worked hard for it. That is what I like most about the project—the values they passed on to these groups through their seminars.”
She is hopeful, however, that the good work will not stop with Move Up project and that the program will continue on even after the project has handed the reins to the CSGs.
“I hope that this is just the beginning. Whatever the Move Up project has taught us, we will be the ones who will spread them to the whole city. I envision Valenzuela as a model city with great livelihood programs that provide the means, through jobs, for people to live a good life,” says Josephine.
Currently, she is working with the groups to shift their focus into being a cooperative. When they do become institutionalized, what will be her role then? Josephine explains, “I will continue to assist and link them to NGAs. We will continue to monitor them, and when they encounter problems, the local government will still help.”
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