The U.S. Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development (USAID) joined International Care Ministries (ICM) in Iloilo on July 1 to celebrate their partnership against poverty.
Dr. Susan K. Brems, USAID Mission Director, Hon. Jed Patrick E. Mabilog, Mayor of Iloilo City, and David Sutherland, Chairman of the Board of ICM, led the graduation ceremony of 35 beneficiaries who took ICM’s “Transform” training program.
The program, which is part of USAID’s Promoting Entrepreneurship to Reduce Ultra-Poverty project implemented in collaboration with ICM, is training 10,000 people in Iloilo to increase household incomes by developing their entrepreneurial skills.
“We applaud your commitment to forging a better future for your family, your community, and ultimately, your country. The American people are proud to be part of your journey towards a more stable, prosperous future,” Dr. Brems said.
Since 2009, ICM’s Transform program has positively impacted 750,000 people. This 16-week intensive education program improves understanding of health and access to health care, provides skills and opportunities for entrepreneurship, and supports families with basic resources for stability while they attend training.
After the ceremony, Dr. Brems and Mr. Sutherland visited the homes of the graduates to see firsthand how they are implementing their new skills. Mary Sunshine Neri, one of the graduates of the puto making (steamed Filipino rice cake) course, expressed gratitude for the support, which comes from the American people.
“I am really happy and I’m excited about our business plans. Thank you very much for your help,” Ms. Neri said.
The training program offers education in business skills and principles, as well as health and hygiene. Over the past few years, Transform has resulted in more than a 100 percent increase in household income for participants, in addition to significant improvements in health and well-being. ICM has been applying a business approach to fighting poverty in the Philippines, with a focus on helping Filipinos who live on less than 50 U.S. cents 23 pesos per day climb out of poverty.
ICM’s Transform program is aligned with USAID’s commitment to eradicating extreme poverty under USAID’s Cities Development Initiative, which supports partner cities outside Metro Manila, including Iloilo, to fulfill their potential as engines of inclusive economic growth.