"Let Us Sell Goods" - Livelihood Project for the Badjao Community 2013-2015
Financial Empowerment through Microfinance
The Badjao Community is located at Barangay Libjo, Batangas City, Batangas, Philippines. This is our pilot community development project.
Project Manager: Albert Santiago
The “Let Us Sell Goods” Livelihood Project is a cooperative-like livelihood project wherein a capital of certain amount, in cash, is being lent to a Badjao family under certain length of time, terms and conditions. The start-up capital for the buy-and-sell business is aimed at providing an income to these families to sustain their needs daily and help them rise above poverty and lack.
The products usually being traded are cultured pearls, malong (traditional badjao cloth), fancy accessories, second hand cellphones and prime commodities. Their market includes their fellow badjao in the community, tourists, and local folks. They go from province to province in selling their goods. The capital lent to the family will be returned again to the project with 5% interest of the total amount borrowed, of which to be added up to the livelihood fund, to help more Badjao families.
The project will also educate families on family capital management and finance responsibility towards the project, and will also provide additional market for their cultured pearls and malong products. The project head will oversee and monitor the lending and returning of the money borrowed.
The Badjaos are Filipino Muslim ethnic sea gypsies and group of boat dwellers people. According to the historians, they are the financially poorest ethnic group in Sulu depending only on fishing with arrow and diving for coins tossed by ship passengers at the port, exchanging corals, sea shells or pearl for any food or money for their daily food and survival.
They have no permanent dwellings and live on their boats throughout the year but in some places the Badjaos have built their own houses. Some of these Badjao migrated from the southern part to the northern part of the Philippines in Malitam, Batangas.
In 1999, a missionary couple Pastor Albert and Ellen Santiago came to the island of Malitam, Batangas. They developed a strategy in collaboration with the Badjao community to addressing their needs. The implementation of the strategy is still ongoing.
The major benefits of the strategy to date are
- All Badjao children are now registered in the civil registry and the adults in voters registration (they all took Christian names).
- Each Badjao house has their own toilet, garden and cleanliness is highly observed.
- They are no longer malnourished, sickly, no longer beggars and thieves in the streets, no longer ills of the society, no longer illiterate and no longer sickly and mentally retarded.
- A number of Badjao youth passed the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Accreditation test given by the government. These kids who were outcasts of the society are completely changed.
- Some Badjao children are now able to go to regular elementary school in Batangas City, Philippines. Seemingly impossible with their former situation.
However, there are still additional needs that require support. Specifically, the provision of livelihood opportunities (employment and source of income to community members) to sustain their daily needs and help them rise above poverty and lack.