A better way of saving – Teresita’s CoMSCA experience in Guindacpan (2015)
By Bernie Calinajan |
On May 27-29, 2015, ZSL-Philippines convened all the chairpersons and record keepers of the Net-Works community banks (CoMSCAs) in Cebu City for a summit. The summit was co-organized by World Vision Philippines, Feed The Children Philippines, ZSL Philippines, and Precious Lamb Condell Foundation. This gathering was basically a sharing of insights and experiences among CoMSCAs leaders and practitioners. The event was attended by CoMSCA delegates from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Awarding of best performing CoMSCAs and CoMSCA agents highlighted the event, where May 29th was also launched as National Savings Day.
Guindacpan Savers’ Association took the prize for best ZSL assisted CoMSCA in Danajon Bank because of its sterling performance and for inspiring the formation of more CoMSCAs in the region. This group was delighted to receive the award. Community bank member, Teresita attended the summit as proxy to the chairperson of Guindacpan CoMSCA, who could not attend the event due to other commitments. Teresita and the record keeper received the award on behalf of the whole association.
During the in-house pre-summit, I approached Teresita to ask her if their trip over from Bohol went well. I did not expect the casual inquiry would spark a more serious conversation. She candidly shared how her situation has changed after she became part of the CoMSCA. She confided that before she joined CoMSCA, she had tried working with some other micro-finance initiatives, but she felt, nothing much happened from the money she borrowed and used as capital for a small business in the island.
When she was still accessing loans from local private money lenders, she had hoped to start her own micro business to help her family. However, she was very disappointed her hoped did not come true. Instead of helping her family, the borrowing became a headache when she earned was only enough to service the interest of the money she owed. She stressed she was losing confidence in micro finance institutions due to this. So, when CoMSCA began operating in her island, she was extremely hesitant to join. She wondered if it would be the same story again.
When ZSL-Philippines conducted an orientation and training on CoMSCA in Guidacpan, Talibon, Bohol a fellow community member invited her to attend. Due to her past bad experiences, her first reaction was that she was not at all interested. Nonetheless, out of respect to the person who invited her, she lukewarmly attended the orientation. The orientation enlightened her mind and her confidence in CoMSCA’s has grown and grown.
A few cycles on, Teresita now really appreciates the CoMSCA approach. With the clouds of doubt erased, she joined during the 1st cycle of CoMSCA, where she generated more than 5000 pesos in savings. She started her buying and selling micro business using her own savings as seed capital. She regularly travels to Cebu to buy assorted kitchen wares she also resells to her neighbors in Guindacpan, earning supplemental income for the family. After the second cycle, her investment to her own micro business grew up and she was able to save nearly 8,000 pesos. She said CoMSCA is really a big help and nothing compares to it.
She is really very keen on sharing the CoMSCA good news to the people in Guindacpan. She’s very much willing to share a testimony to the increasing number of people who wish to form another groups. The knowledge of savings and the values taught by COMSCA are things she will hold dearly forever. As an expression of gratitude, she’s committed to extend her services freely and heartily.
Moreover, she said that she couldn’t forget the initiative of ZSL-Philippines and Interface for the support and guidance to the CoMSCA in Guindacpan and for introducing both the Net-Works and CoMSCA in her island village. She thinks these organizations deserved recognition for helping the environment, particularly the ocean that sustains people along the coastlines.
Bernie Calinajan then Community Organiser at ZSL-Philippines