Who We Are
Kasagana-ka Coop’s history has its early beginnings in 1985 when the Foundation for Development Alternatives (FDA), a nongovernmental organization (NGO) actively engaged in community-based organizing, capability-building, advocacy, and networking for urban poor concerns, started its Alternative Socio-Ecoonomic Program (ASEP) with around 200 beneficiaries in the municipality of Sapang Palay in Bulacan. Inspired by the Grameen Bank model in Bangladesh, which was gaining much international attention during that period, FDA’s livelihood initiative evolved into a microfinance and savings scheme for poor women within its target communities and groups.
From Kasagana-ka program to KDCI
In 1994, FDA’s ASEP became Kasagana Ka, a name given by Severiano C. Marcelo, Jr., known as Kuya Jun to many of the program’s client-beneficiaries, who later served as executive director when the Kasagana-ka program became a separate entity called the Kasagana-ka Development Center Inc. (KDCI). Kasagana Ka was really an acronym for Kabuhayan sa Ganap na Kasarinlan or “livelihood for genuine self-reliance” which came to define through time the program’s thrust as well as KDCI’s overall vision for its beneficiaries. As a Filipino phrase, Kasagana Ka was also a form of exhortation towards being one with others in achieving well-being and development. It thus also signified the staff’s and members’ commitment to each other and to others.
By 2002, the program had reached around 2,000 clients spread over seven (7) service areas within Caloocan City, Quezon City, Bulacan, and Rizal. Later that year, on 26 September 2002, KDCI was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a separate microfinance organization. The KDCI later secured accreditation from other regulatory bodies including the Philippine Council for NGO Certification (PCNC) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Since its establishment, it has also become a member of various networks like the Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc. (MCPI), PinoyME, MF Transparency, and Partnership of Philippine Support Service Agencies (PHILSSA), Inc..
Evolution of the Grasya strategy
KDCI initially maintained its Grameen Bank-inspired strategy of sustaining small, self-organized groups of poor women borrowers in specific localities that served both as a guarantee system for loans and a delivery mechanism for other community services. In 2004, KDCI’s microfinance program combined the Grameen model with that of the Association for Social Advancement (ASA), another microfinance group . KDCI then called its new approach Grasya, a Filipino term for blessing or grace 1 , and highlighted individual liability, instead of the Grameen’s shared responsibility feature which often resulted in more conscientious members paying for delinquent client-beneficiaries’ loans, and thus discouraged the former from continuing.
The mixed Grasya methodology kept KDCI’s group formation strategy not only to maintain peer pressure on borrowers but also to help achieve the organization’s education and members’ development goals. The period immediately following the shift to the new approach was marked by operational expansion, despite the challenges that the KDCI’s organizers faced in terms of introducing and explaining it to members. By 2008, KDCI’s client-beneficiaries had increased to 15,000, spread over three (3) major cities in Metro Manila (Quezon City, Caloocan City, and Marikina City) and seven (7) municipalities and cities in the provinces of Bulacan and Rizal. Total loan portfolio by the end of that year reached almost Php 60 million. The number of field offices also increased to fifteen (15), from about only four (4) when the organization started, while the number of staff grew from 26 to 115 in 2002.
Development of other microfinance services
The shift to the Grasya method was followed by the development and introduction of new products and services. In 2006, the Kasagana-ka Mutual Benefit Association(KMBA) was organized to provide microinsurance and other risk management services to poor Filipino families, with KDCI’s client-beneficiaries as a major target group. K-Edukasyon, with its educational loan and scholarship assistance components for client-beneficiaries and their children, was started in 2007. Starting in 2010, other products and services were launched including K-Bahay, K-Kalusugan, K-Unlad, K-Suporta, K-NHA, K-Benepisyo, K-Kalamidad, and K-PWD. Most of these were later modified to make them more relevant and responsive to the changing needs of client-beneficiaries. This was also the case with K-Negosyo, KDCI’s core loan product, which was further improved to adapt to advancements in beneficiaries’ microenterprises. K-Bahay is a shelter program that provides client-beneficiaries with access to loans for house improvement through the construction of more sturdy and natural disaster-resilient structures, or of additional floors or rooms that can be rented out for extra income. K-Kalusugan is the organization’s health program that provides loans to members for physical examinations and laborarory tests, dentures and prescription glasses, and medical-surgical procedures. It has also supported the training of health workers (K-Kalusugan Kadets) and health champions 2 from among the members and coop staff themselves, who help in raising client-beneficiaries’ awareness on healthconcerns and in catering to their immediate or emergency health needs. K-Unlad formalized the organization’s training support to client-beneficiaries in the areas of livelihood skills enhancement, microenterprise development, and financial literacy. The program also includes sponsorships for the client-beneficiaries’ participation in conventions and similar gatherings that provide venues to expand their networks with fellow microentrepreneurs and potential clients or business associates. K-Suporta provides immediate cash support or loan repayment moratorium for those affected by natural calamities (K-Kalamidad), and cash aid to those who experienced death of an immediate family member and are not covered under KMBA’s insurance, or insurance premium payment and financial assistance to those who are awaiting total permanent disability (TPD) insurance claims under KMBA. K-NHA extends loan assistance for livelihood activities to urban poor families who have been staying in relocation sites of the National Housing Authority (NHA) for less than six (6) months. 3
K-Benepisyo aims to further improve client-beneficiaries’ social protection by facilitating their membership with the Social Security System (SSS) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC or PhilHealth). It also provides loans to support regular premium payments to these facilities. K-PWD extends KDCI’s microfinance services and KMBA’s microinsurance products to client-beneficiaries who are persons with disabilities (or PWDs), or to their immediate family members who are PWDs. Processing fees are waived for loan applications under the K-PWD program. The introduction and delivery of these new products and services brought forth further expansion and consolidation of KDCI’s client base during the succeeding years.
Following a consultancy work in 2011 with the Inter-Asia Development Bank (IADB) in Tagaytay City, KDCI’s operation expanded to areas south of Manila, within the provinces of Laguna and Cavite. An agreement with IADB’s sister company, I.Can Lending Incorporated, brought about the establishment of KDCI’s field office in Las Piñas City. It was also during 2011 that another Kasagana-ka sister organization, the Kasagana-ka Employer-Employees Provident Fund (KEEPF) Inc., was registered with the SEC to help ensure retirement and other benefits for employees. By 2013, client-beneficiaries exceeded 22,000, and KDCI’s net worth reached Php 78 million.
After its midterm review of KDCI’s 2010-2016 Strategic Plan in late 2013, the KDCI’s Board of Trustees started exploring and discussing the option of cooperativization. The creation of K-Coop was borne out of the desire of KDCI’s leadership to return most of the financial benefits from the organization’s microfinance operations back to the client-beneficiaries. After much discussion and a commissioned study, KDCI’s Board of Trustees decided that the best strategy was to cooperativize its microfinance operations. Apart from being inclusive and empowering in its approaches, providing a clear framework for redistributing wealth and having a well-defined regulatory and tax regime, the coop model was also aligned with the KSOs’ organizational culture. The 6-year Strategic Plan (2017-2022) of the Kasagana-ka Synergizing Organizations (KSOs), finalized in 2016, called formally for the establishment of K-Coop, to take on most of the microfinance and economic support initiatives that KDCI had been implementing these past years with client-beneficiaries and partner urban poor communities. With the new direction, KDCI will be implementing only its social programs in thecoming years and will transfer its microfinance programs to K-Coop. K-Coop will be the expression of KDCI’s livelihood development initiatives. KDCI has also agreed to support the cooperative’s initial years of operation by allowing it to use KDCI’s assets, equipment, program funds, and other resources under a usufructuary arrangement.