Feed the Hungry, Inc. launched the Livelihood Program in 1996. Since then, the Program has regularly provided funds for so-called “cottage industries,” which are small-scale businesses run out of people’s homes or communities. These FtH-sponsored ventures provide a wide variety of products and services, including sewing, fishing, raising and selling hogs, and making household items like brooms, doormats, potholders, and more. The Livelihood Program targets areas hard hit by calamities or located in areas that need economic activity to stimulate the local community. Some past program participants lived in the provinces of Cavite, Quezon, Cagayan, lsabela, Aurora, Marinduque, Cebu, Bohol, Negros Occidental, Leyte, Aklan, Romblon, South Cotabato, Maguindanao, and Davao Region including Compostela Valley.
FtH has no repayment expectations for Livelihood Program beneficiaries. Its goal is simply to give communities the boost they need to become self-reliant. Most, if not all, of the program participants are able to take their initial grant and quickly become self-sustaining. As their efforts and FtH ‘s investment begin to pay off, they are able to reinvest the money. meaning there is no need for further cash inflows.
Right after Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in November 2013, FtH had a face-to-face meeting in hard hit Tacloban with seamstresses and tailors to get them back on their feet with a livelihood project. FtH purchased eight sewing machines and the necessary materials to get folks started with a cooperative. They began producing and selling garments and uniforms for school children and nurses. They were able to re-invest enough of their revenue into new supplies and continue the cycle.
While FtH is proud of its success stories. there have been rare exceptions in which even doing due diligence and vetting beneficiaries have not worked. “Even with a few disappointing outcomes, FtH has continued to support these family-based cottage industry ventures. It has responded by becoming more careful, and we work to ensure that we provide a more rigorous education to project participants as part of the vetting process,” exclaims Pablito Alarcon. who earlier served as FtH Livelihood Program Director.
“Additionally, we asked our NGO partner to more strictly monitor beneficiaries and impress upon them the importance of maintaining the cycle to uplift their economic conditions. Feed the Hungry Livelihood
Programs will continue helping the marginalized in our society and slowly lift them up through funding of small-scale home-based cottage industries,” adds Dennis Ocampo, current FtH Livelihood Program Director.
As FtH celebrates its Silver Anniversary, the Livelihood Program has been one that it focuses on, reflecting on its accomplishments since it was started in 1996 and planning to continue its work in the years to come.