GWP-Iloilo showcases project developments to CIDA

GREAT Women Project (GWP) and Canadian International Development Authority (CIDA) officials paid an official visit last February 14 to Iloilo provincial office and partner municipalities of Pavia and Badiangan. Representing CIDA were Senior Director for the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Southeast Asia Regional Program Michael Brownell and CIDA Head of Cooperation for the Philippines Laurenne Garneau. The GREAT Women Project was represented by its Project Manager Luvy Villanueva and GWP Consultant for Component 3 Mel Silva.

Local government officials, led by the Iloilo Vice Governor Richard Garin, Jr. and Provincial Administrator Raul Banias, warmly received CIDA and GWP officials. In the two municipalities, Pavia Mayor Arcadio Gorriceta and Badiangan Mayor Suzette Mamon, together with their local legislators, municipal technical working group members and women entrepreneurs dialogued with GWP and CIDA Officials. Due to limited time, the visit was not able to include the third pilot area, Miag-ao, in the itinerary. The site visit showcased GWP results of the implementation of the first work and financial plan and status of the second work plan.

CIDA officials consulted with local officials on how they implement the GREAT Women Project and with women micro-entrepreneurs and project stakeholders on how they actually benefit from its implementation. Making real gender-responsive plans, partner LGUs shared information about their services to address concerns of women microentrepreneurs (WME) such as support to Badiangan loom-weavers, a souvenirs’ center to be established in Miag-ao, and a proposed Livelihood Technology Center in Pavia. The Iloilo provincial government and the three municipal LGUs are sharing in construction costs. The LGUs provide capacity development for and are linking WMEs to sources of technical and financial assistance.

During the dialogue, Ilongga WMEs thanked the GWP-LGU partnership that spurred many supportive initiatives for women entrepreneurs. One Pavia entrepreneur shared that her participation in the project activities and expanded LGU services enabled her to “learn how to acquire business permits, manage her finances, deal with other people, improve her business and dispose of her wastes.”

Through GWP, as WMEs observed, LGUs have grown from merely linking WMEs to sources of assistance or providing information. LGU linkages with national government agencies are now enabling women to acquire business equipment, explore wider markets and business opportunities, and get accreditation. In Pavia, the cooperative was able to negotiate for exemption from payment of BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) license of P500 for very small micro-entrepreneurs. Instead, they were allowed just to pay the mayor’s permit of P100. In ceremonies, Iloilo officials said that GWP made them realize women’s contributions to local economic development and poverty alleviation.

CIDA Officials anchored project success on the “the contribution of many actors, the commitment and investment of partners, and Philippine Commission on Women’s good project management.”