The usual challenge faced by community organizations is sustainability. “Ningas-kogon” attitude is an innate nature of many Filipinos. Many organizations or even programs and projects left unfinished because the aspect of sustainability is forgotten. Huge government resources were put to waste because of so many factors. It could be the lack of commitment, the lack of passion to push certain endeavor or the lack of long –term vision.
This is the reality that need to be addressed not only by government but by individuals.
But, the sad stories of community undertakings has also a positive part. There are still individuals and even government agencies who believe that something will happen if the leaders and the people are willing to surrender certain things or even time in exchange of something worthwhile and for the interest of many.
One inspiring story of a successful community initiative is the establishment of a business center in the town of Taytay, Palawan. The process towards the full realization of the project started in 2014 when series of community meetings and consultations were made. Community consultation is a fundamental requirement before any community project or undertaking kicks off.
Doing so was not easy for the community workers because there should be a paradigm shift to ensure the success of the proposed project. In this case, they need to open the mind of the beneficiaries that instead of doing operating the business individually, it has to operate and run by the association as one.
With the supervision Department of Social Welfare and Development under its Sustainable Livelihood Program Associations with the support of the local government unit of Taytay and the Taytay Palawan Sustainable Livelihood Program Federation, Inc., the business center successfully opened in 2016 and operates providing more opportunities to community particularly the beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
The DSWD-SLPA Business Center is a growing business enterprise incorporating different business concepts in one place.
It is located strategically along national highway at the junction of Taytay town. The business center houses the restaurant, grocery store, boutique, souvenirs shops and entertainment place. It is now being managed by trained staff who also form part of the management.
Since this is a community-owned enterprise with government on the side, the members are putting too much premium on the sustainability of the project by actively participating in the operation of the center. It is being ran by 39 beneficiaries who are considered as ‘ wealth generators’ for other beneficiaries of the program.
The project aims to improve the socio-economic condition of members of the SLPAs through group enterprise. The skill to run the business was acquired through the assistance of the LGU of Taytay, the Department of Trade and Industry and the help in various ways of the Philippine Marines.
Aside from economic benefits of the project, the members are able to deepen their understanding on the value of collective action which will lead to strengthening community ties and development. Likewise, the strengthened partnership with external partners are steadfast foundation of the project.
The approach in community empowerment of DSWD is proven effective to develop the sense of ownership among community members. Through this, the members are gripping tight not to let go of their dreams.
The journey towards economic independence of DSWD SLP members may take a longer time, but the good news is, the government is always on the side to provide guidance to the community when passion is weakening and the direction sometimes is taking a swerving path.
Today, the business center still operates successful and is growing by adding more business activities in the center thus provides bigger income opportunity to its beneficiaries