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From piggy bank to savings that’ll grow

By Jon Khoo |

It’s 11am and so far this morning, I’ve taken a ferry from Cebu, the bustling second city of the Philippines, arrived at the port Tubigon on the island of Bohol and hopped on a public bus to the town of Talibon in the north-east…. on the ride, I’ve passed turn-offs for several of the collection points in the Danajon Bank where we’ve been collecting discarded fishing nets as part of our community-based supply chain called Net-Works. The nets become a currency and can be sold into community banks, providing access to savings for artisanal fishing communities.

I’m travelling with our ZSL-Philipines team, Amado Blanco, Rosemarie Apurado, Fidel Estremos and Bernie Calinajan who run our operations here in the Philippines, and also our Net-Works co-ordinator from ZSL in the UK, Farinoz Daneshpay.  We’re off to catch up with some community bank members in Guindacpan to check in on how our Net-Works community banks are benefitting them.

First up, a chance for Mia and Bernie to catch up with Christina, a community bank member who also featured in our recent Net-Works film

“Before I didn’t really do savings,” she explains, there was more of a “piggy bank” model… where any savings would sit, but certainly wouldn’t grow.  In contrast, after nearly two cycles of community bank saving.. she has a new equation, that “my income, minus my savings is what I’m able to spend,” she concludes, “I’m pushing myself to save, this is my money and it’ll sit and grow….”

This is financial planning where once there were no savings.

Under Net-Works, discarded fishing nets are sold through Net-Works providing a supplemental income for people living in artisinal fishing communities. In Guindacpan, this income is saved through a local community bank, locally known as a “COMSCA”. The nets become a currency, a valuable source of additional income that can be used to acquire food or be saved for future needs. For more information on COMSCA’s check out our blog post Local Savings for Local People.

Sitting next to Christina is fellow community bank member Riza who’s noticed great buy-in from her family for her participation in a Net-Works community bank. She tells us, “the whole family supports my involvement in the COMSCA, whether it’s my 11 year old daughter reminding me it’s a meeting day or my husband… for they see how it benefits the whole family”.

For the whole team, this is a great reaction, on one side, it shows confidence in the community banks and the impact that they are having; equally, it shows the potential multiplier effect of Net-Works… that families become supportive of Net-Works and that there’s an opportunity to share its environmental and social benefits outward from the COMSCA.

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