ASKI and its Calamansi Growers
Alalay sa Kaunlaran, Inc. (ASKI) is one of the largest partners of SEEDFINANCE, in terms of asset size and outreach. It is a non-government organization established in 1986 by business leaders that thought of an effective response to address the countries’ economical issues. After its official registration to Securities and Exchange Commission in 1987 as a non-stock, non-profit entity, ASKI committed itself on the promotion and development of micro and small-to-medium enterprises and the delivery of social services.
From ASKI’s first physical office in Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija province, which now serves as their headquarters, it has grown into a large organization with 26 branches and 13 extension offices covering different provinces in Central and North Luzon. To date, it has achieved a total outreach of 113,773 clients, manpower of more than 800 staffs and total portfolio of more than P1.4 billion.
The organization is also a recipient of numerous awards and recognitions because of the projects, services, innovations and milestones it has contributed to various communities. Last November 2012, ASKI has won a prestigious recognition for winning the 4th European Microfinance Award, which was held in Luxembourg. As one of the highlights of the European Microfinance Week, ASKI was chosen as of its initiatives toward supporting the agriculture sector and its contribution to improving the supply of safe and better quality of food in a developing country like the Philippines.
Today, almost more than 21,000 farmers are benefiting from its agricultural loan program, which is making a valuable contribution to the needed food security initiatives in the country. ASKI will continue to use the funds to invest in further opportunities for the farming community. This would provide local farmers with additional sources of income to sustain the daily needs of their family.
Cayetano Ortiz and Rolando Delos Santos are both members of ASKI and are engaged in farming. Primarily, they cultivate ‘calamansi’, which is a fruit believed to originate from China and has spread throughout Southeast Asia and especially in the Philippines. The calamansi tree bears a small citrus fruit that is used to flavor foods and drinks. With its outer appearance and its aroma, the taste of the fruit itself is quite sour. It is available in the country all year round and commonly seen in its unripe state as a dark green fruit. This is mostly used by households in cooking for flavor enhancement. Calamansi juice is also believed to have health benefits, particularly for coughs or colds.
Cayetano and Rolando own their separate hectares of fertile land in the province of Nueva Ecija and also employ some close relatives to assist in the daily operations of their respective businesses. They usually harvest the fruits two to four times a month and sell those in bulk to retailers in the local town’s market. SEEDFINANCE and ASKI, through the organizations’ partnership in Lendwithcare, are able to assist these two entrepreneurs by providing loan funds for the purchase of saplings, fertilizers and farming tools. Cayetano and Rolando, along with many other calamansi growers of ASKI, continue to receive full support from the organization’s financial and social services towards the development of their farming businesses.