UPLB students teach housewives how to do business

MANILA, Philippines – Sometimes, all it takes is a simple innovation to improve the lives of the poor. 

A basic cash accounting system allowed underprivileged housewives in Laguna engaged in small scale businesses to almost triple the market of their goods.

Amiga Philippines is a successful livelihood program initiated by students of the University of the Philippines – Los Baños (UPLB) that has benefitted a group of 30 housewives in Humanityville in Calauan, Laguna, a government relocation site.

The project won Rappler’s Social Good Summit workshop on education and jobs held on Saturday, September 24.

The students simplified for the housewives the process of bookkeeping, using local language to teach the process called “Kaliwa­Kanan Cash Accounting System or KKASH”.

“Knowing that it would be hard to understand for the women the basics of accounting, we used Filipino words in identifying the accounting terms, gave exercises, taught how to prepare financial statements and provided specially­made journals for the women printed on used paper collected from the campus,” said Kevin Cuevas, the team leader. 

It worked like magic. “Sobrang magaling na sila (They are now good at it). Because of it, we were able to increase their market by 266%,” Cuevas said.

The housewives are engaged in small business such as sari-sari (retail) stores and egg-production farms.

3 phases

Amiga Philippines was launched in June 2016. It has 3 phases: women empowerment, entrepreneurial establishment, and community development.

In the women empowerment stage, the housewives were trained on entrepreneurial management, bookkeeping, gender sensitivity and women’s rights, and agribusiness opportunities. Completion of the training entitled them to an "Amigas" identification card. 

They were also given a lecture on violence against women and children by the UPLB Gender Center and were toured around International Rice Research Institute to expose them to other entrepreneurial opportunities. 

In the entrepreneurial management stage, the Amigas are divided into groups and get to practice what they learned by coming up with ideas for new business opportunities. This stage of the project is ongoing. 

“They’re just going to consult us with more questions, additional knowledge. We have not yet established new businesses, we are still developing existing ones and developing new ideas,” Cuevas said.

Similar to the popular paluwagan scheme, members contribute equal amounts of money which the organization is expected to double through a financial loan.

The final stage – Community Development – will be implemented upon completion of the second stage.

The Amigas are expected to give back to their communities once they have developed or established their own enterprises. They may serve as Amiga coaches who will train new batches of beneficiaries or work to recruit more Amigas to undertake the livelihood program. 

Ultimately, the UPLB students seek to establish an Amiga school accredited by Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

The students are currently developing a new program called Ripple ED, which will use technology for their KKASH system to reach more people. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com