From accounting to enterprise: UPLB students help housewives do business
MANILA, Philippines – The idea behind Amiga Philippines started with teaching underprivileged housewives in Laguna to do basic accounting.
After teaching the women financial literacy and helping them increase their profits, students from Enactus UPLB, a student organization based in the University of the Philippines Los Baños, now aim to close the loop by trying to establish a social enterprise to help them sell the products they create.
“Now [our aim] is to establish a social enterprise, for them to make a product that would be sustainable to them. They will produce and we will sell,” said Enactus UPLB founder Kevin Cuevas.
The Amiga Philippines livelihood project, which benefitted a group of housewives in a government relocation site in Calauan, Laguna, won last year’s Hack Society workshop on education and jobs hosted by Rappler. (READ: UPLB students teach housewives how to do business)
The program simplified the basics of accounting through a simple book-keeping system called “KaliwaKanan Cash Accounting System” or KKASH.
Cuevas said his group got the idea to teach basic financial literacy after noticing many other livelihood programs in the community fail to prosper.
“A lot of organizations had tried to help. But due to politics and bureaucracy, a lot of the livelihood programs failed. We looked at one farm as a case study, and we saw that their profits were in the negative,” Cuevas said.
“They don’t have a record-keeping system in the first place, so we taught them that,” he added.
Because many didn’t graduate high school, the challenge was how to teach accounting in an easy to understand way. Their solution: translate basic accounting concepts to Filipino.
Teaching the basics
Because they weren’t accounting students, Cuevas’ group found it difficult to teach the basics of bookkeeping.
The group held a 3-day training, with the 5-hour accounting sessions held along with sessions on agribusiness, women’s rights and gender sensitivity.
Following the sessions, Cuevas said at least 14,000 people in one community benefited from the trainings.
For the housewives, Cuevas said they were able to track their profits and losses.
“Without record keeping, you would not know how much enters in your business. So from that they can already see the decrease in profits, or if their profits go up, because they know now how to budget,” he said.
Cuevas added that the community appreciated their efforts to teach them the basics of financial literacy.
“Sabi nila, ang dami raw na student organizations na tumulong sa community, pero kami lang ang nagtagal,” he said.
(They said, so many student organizations had helped the community, but we stayed the longest.)
Addressing the jobs problem
The Amiga Philippines project aimed to help residents get much more from their livelihood programs, particularly because of the lack of jobs in the area.
Cuevas said he also understood the difficulties of making a living in a resettlement area.
“Having lived as an informal settler as a child, it was very close to my heart, their lives in the National Housing Authority resettlement area in Calauan, Laguna because I've also lived in a relocation site as theirs,” he said.
“I wanted to help housewives because according to the leaders of the community, most of the women do not have jobs,” he added.
Cuevas likened the situation there as similar to families of overseas Filipino workers: the family’s breadwinners often go far away to provide for their loved ones.
“Most of the fathers of the community go to Manila to finance their livelihoods. So most of the families [are like] OFW families. It’s like a broken family…so what we wanted was make their livelihoods more sustainable in the community,” he said.
For the program’s next steps, Cuevas said they plan to work with a new community in Laguna. Aside from teaching financial literacy, the group wants to establish a social enterprise, and later on, help the community establish a cooperative to sustain their enterprise efforts. (WATCH: Empowering housewives through social enterprises)
Cuevas noted that some of the families had considered closing down their businesses when, after learning how to keep records, they saw that they were actually sustaining losses instead of profits.
To help address this, the group is trying to link the residents’ small business enterprises to markets in Los Baños.
They will also help look for partners to train residents in various skills, that they can then apply for their enterprises.
Technology will also play a role: Amiga Philippines is looking into tapping online shopping platform Shopee and help link the communities’ products to the online marketplace. – Rappler.com