ILIGAN CITY —– The United States Agency International Development (USAID) and Plan International released on Thursday (October 29), business recovery grants to two Muslim youth groups in Lanao del Sur and Marawi City, as part of the Philippine Coffee Month celebration.
The turn-over of the P260,000 livelihood package is part of the Marawi Response Project (MRP) that started during the Marawi siege in 2017.
It highlighted the culmination of the Business Month Celebration in Iligan City and was featured duringf the launching of the “Kapehan sa Iligan Chamber”, an online forum of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation of Iligan, Inc. (CCIFII).
The two groups, Aqilah and the Alog Youth Association, requested grant assistance for their coffee production projects which was approved by the MRP according to Lauro Ilagan, USAID Plan MRP, Economic Development Leader.
The Aqila, whose project is called Cup of Hope, is a group of young social entrepreneurs based in Mindanao State University (MSU) Marawi, selling coffee while offering professional pro-bono counseling to students and others adversely affected psychologically by the Marawi siege.
The group is composed of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the most affected area (MAA) and host community members.
“They are in the process of re-investing profits to build a stand alone coffee shop in the city of Marawi,” said Ilagan.
The other group, Alog Youth Organization, is a group of 20 students and young professionals who cook and package coffee to revive traditional coffee mixes such as coffee-ginger, coffee-turmeric and others.
Ilagan said this youth organization is also composed of IDPs and host community members who will produce and package native ground coffee in partnership with existing local coffee farmers who will benefit from the project. It is based in the town of Tubaran in Lanao del Sur
Mohammad Modiaba, the leader of Alog Youth Organization, said they are not doing it for themselves but to help the coffee farmers in their community and the nearby municipalities who are into coffee farming.
“We are going to buy coffee beans from farmers, not only from our municipality but also in Lumbatan, Butig, Lumbaca Unayan and Sultan Dumalondong, package then sellt them. The National Coffee Association committed to help us,” Modiaba said.
“This is a big help especially to the out-of-school youth in the community whom we will hire as workers. It is not the group members who will benefit but rather the youth and the people in the community,” he added.
The MRP is a US$25-million four-year cooperative agreement with Plan International that supports the economic recovery of communities in Lanao provinces that were directly impacted by the 2017 conflict in Marawi City.
Twenty two youth groups from Marawi City and Lanao del Sur were granted livelihood packages.
The MRP also supports the capacity-building of local businesses, including training in business administration, financial management, market development and specialized skills that are critical in sustaining and growing businesses and generating employment.
“This activity is one of several avenues that MRP supports to help the local business community,” Ilagan said.