CCT combats poverty in the Philippines with a holistic approach that delivers loans and training to over 100,000 families every year.
Poverty is rampant in many communities across the Philippines. Sanitation, clean water, and adequate housing are in short supply. Many families are headed by women whose husbands have left them or return home only sporadically. In other families, the breadwinners cannot earn a stable income, leaving many poor and without hope.
Many poor women try to earn a living through street vending, food production, craft making, or other informal business activities. To keep these microbusinesses running, they sometimes have to take out loans from loan sharks, who charge exorbitant interest rates, leaving the women with little or no profit from their hard work. They are left earning barely enough to cover food for their families, with little hope of providing basic health care, decent housing, or education. With training, encouragement, and very small loans from CCT, these women are able to stabilize their businesses and support their children with dignity.
The program targets the economically active poor. Nearly all the clients are women, whom CCT organizes into small “Covenant Groups.” Savings accounts are established for participants, who are required to save a small amount weekly for six weeks before becoming eligible for a loan. With the support and encouragement of fellow group members and training from CCT, each client prepares a brief business plan to start or expand her own small business. If fellow group members agree that the business is viable, first loans of approximately $60, with a repayment term of three months, are issued to members. With group accountability, the motivation to help each other succeed is high, and loan repayment rates often approach 100 percent. Several covenant groups are brought together into “Fellowship Groups” of about 20 people. These groups meet weekly, and serve as the forum for further training, Bible study and prayer, loan payments, and encouragement.
The micro-lending work of CSS has been operationally self-sustaining for several years. This level of efficiency allows outside funding to go towards program growth rather than operating expense. Over the past few years, CCT has established and grown four new branches in the southern Mindanao region, issuing over 1,500 loans to new clients and maintaining a 99 percent repayment rate. The goal of the expansion is to increase the number of Muslim families reached with microenterprise services and with the gospel message.