Volunteer Stories

Annette Acosta

Philippines

This article was originally written by Annette Acosta.


ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW

Name of project: Farmer-to-Farmer COCOS

Location of the project: Philippines

Organization that sent the volunteer: Grameen Foundation


VOLUNTEER IMPACT

This is my second project working with Grameen Foundation and even though it was very different due to COVID-19, the essence of collaboration is still amazing. In this project, I was collaborating with The Household Multi-Purpose Cooperative (HMPC), a multi-purpose cooperative in the Cotabato region of the Philippines that offers farm financing programs and salary loans to its members. Specifically, I was working with Reynold Alejo, head of the cooperative, to assess and manage risks in the cacao loans. The cooperative started giving loans to cacao farmers in 2014, but in 2015 and 2016 the area was heavily affected by El Niño Phenomenon and caused severe devastation to the land. As a consequence, the cooperative has a very high non-performing loan ratio, and the objective was to evaluate its overall financial risk and assess its capacity to mitigate and manage risks within its programs and services.

Virtual meeting with HMPC

Through various virtual meetings, I tried to grasp the situation of the cooperative and created a risk matrix to identify, assess, and prioritize risks. We discussed different points and eventually built a risk management framework, a tool for them to manage risk on an ongoing basis. The highlight of this assignment was the opportunity to give a workshop on this specific subject, how to develop a risk management framework. The workshop was given on Saturday morning as part of a joint meeting that included their risk management committee to develop their plan and budget. In the meeting, there were approximately 35 people and I was very pleased to hear they found the workshop very insightful, but most of all - eye-opening. After the workshop, I received comments on Facebook from some of the participants,. It was amazing they took the time to reach out and connect!

The satisfaction of knowing it was useful for them and they were able to see their problems with a new fresh set of eyes makes a difference as they will approach things differently and hopefully will improve their operations. This small change can bring a big impact, and this is what takes me back to collaborate with Grameen Foundation. I really enjoy the idea of bringing a different point of view and collaborating with them to create new solutions and improve their operations. It’s all about collaboration! I do hope the relationship keeps growing and hopefully one day I will be able to visit the cooperative in person and try some of their chocolate. I appreciate the efforts made by HMPC and Grameen Foundation to make this happen regardless of the situation we are currently living due to COVID-19.

Workshop on risk management

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