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Women of Bagong Silang

Women of Bagong Silang

Caloocan – Monday is a typical busy day in Barangay Bagong Silang, Caloocan. Classes and work resumed, businesses opened early, and jeepneys and tricycles clogged the main throughways.  Home to almost 270,000 residents, and regarded as the most populous barangay in the Philippines, Bagong Silang is teeming with robust economic activities, and women entrepreneurs are slowly becoming the backbone of progress.

In a house in barangay Phase II, Jean Lamayo, 51, is busy gathering her neighbors, fellow women entrepreneurs in the vicinity. Her “sentro” is where Kabuhayan sa Ganap na Kasarinlan Credit and Savings Cooperative (KCOOP) members can pay and apply for loans.

“What KCOOP has done really made a difference to the lives of many women here,” she said.

As center chief, Jean leads the cluster of women borrowers. She coordinates the status of loan payments and communicates the cooperative’s new programs and services. As a sari-sari store owner herself, she takes pride in the system KCOOP has introduced to them.

Jean’s sentro is one of the 75 clusters KCOOP operates in Bagong Silang. It has an average of 20 members engaged in small businesses such as carinderias, sari-sari stores, rug-making as well as medium enterprises such as water refilling stations and payment (bayad) centers.

Through its loan programs such as K-Kabuhayan and K-Kalinga, KCOOP members can avail loans for their livelihood, education of their children, or health emergencies. The cooperative also offers savings and insurance to its members. 

Empowering women

According to Eduardo “Dudz” Talavera, KCOOP sector manager in Caloocan, it is not surprising that most members of KCOOP in the city are women, as they assist their husbands in bringing additional income for their families.

“Most of their husbands work as drivers, construction workers, or office employees. Instead of staying home, these women would like to support their families by engaging in businesses to supplement their income,” Talavera said.

To empower these women as leaders in the centers, KCOOP conducts training in leadership and business development.

Marissa Camacho Legacy Fund

In line with its objective of advancing women entrepreneurship in the country, the Marissa Camacho Legacy Fund (MCLF) was awarded to KCOOP in 2022. The MCLF, created by Peace and Equity Foundation in honor of Marissa Camacho, is a Php22 million fund to support women empowerment, social enterprise innovation, and youth leadership.

So far, the MCLF support has reached more than 800 members in Bagong Silang. As the implementation progresses, more and more women are being driven to build businesses for themselves.

Djeonna Palce, 45, sells snacks and food dishes placed in flat baskets (bilaos) every afternoon. As a new member of  KCOOP, she was able to avail a loan under MCLF.

“This loan will be used as additional capital for my business,” Palce said.

The thriving urban center of Bagong Silang will continue to flourish with women entrepreneurs like Jean and Djeonna. And KCOOP and PEF will continue looking for ways to support their aspirations.