“Make a difference through entrepreneurship” — Rep. Villar

Addressing the participants of the SERDEF Strategic Planning Workshop held yesterday, October 26 at the Club Filipino, Congressman Cynthia Villar of Las Pinas City underscored the importance of entrepreneurship in providing livelihood to jobless Filipinos and curbing the rising unemployment in the country. She urged the government to  initiate programs to promote entrepreneurship and schools to teach entrepreneurial values for young people to grow up hardworking, persevering, and creative.

Congressman Villar’s message was read for her by her youngest daughter Camille.

She expounded on what Villar Foundation is doing to incubate social enterprises for her constituency in Las Pinas City, particularly for the informal settlers living along river banks who were re-located when the “Sagip-Ilog Program,” a project to clean up and revive the Las Pinas-Zapote River System, was launched and implemented in 2002.

One of the activities initiated for the displaced families and other low-income residents was a water-hyacinth weaving project, which converted what used to be regarded as a nuisance of a plant — that grew uncontrollably, cloggng the waterways and causing floods — into a raw material for craft production. As a result, not only have the beneficiaries of the program cleared the Las Pinas river of the water hyacinths; they have even turned to other towns to source the material.  At weaving centers situated in various barangays in the city, baskets, bayong, utility and ornamental boxes, and other household items are being produced by erstwhile unemployed housewives.

The residents of Las Pinas have also made productive use of another waste material, coconut husks, which used to be dumped by coconut vendors into the river.  Decorticating machines which extract fiber from the coconut husks have been installed in several coconut coir production areas. The project has become a source of income  that the residents can engage in between household work and even after-school hours.  A family with two people doing extraction work can net an average of P6,000 from their production.

The decorticating process has in turn yielded, as a side product,  coco peat, an ingredient for producing organic fertilizer through composting.  This has again provided extra income to residents who produce. organic fertilizer by mixing the peat with kitchen wastes that are collected daily by so-called “biomen” who ride tri-sikads to pick up garbage from house to house.

Other income-generating projects implemented by the government of Las Pinas and the Villar Foundation are vermi-culture, pulverizing of plastic wastes into pellets which are mixed with cement to produce hollow blocks, and citronella tree planting.

In her message, Congressman Villar exhorted  the SERDEF to help push for reforms to make the fiscal environment more conducive to starting a business and growing an existing small enterprise.