The Culion Livelihood Ecosystem (CLE) was formed by the Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan (SLB) in 2014 to promote the economic cooperation among the Jesuit-based and SLB-organized associations in Culion such as the Loyola College of Culion (LCC), Isla Culion Credit Cooperative (ICCC), HUMABI, SAREMAGA, SAMAKASI, Hotel Maya, and Kawil Tours. The other people’s organizations (POs) supported by the ISO, namely KCCFFA, BAFFA, and NYSMNLYBIS became members of CLE in 2017. Comprised of different kinds of organizations ranging from an academic institution, POs, a credit cooperative, and private institutions who all have numerous business transactions, the CLE members wanted to establish control to the differing prices of commodities in the municipality.
As their name implies, CLE is an ecosystem wherein the individual members contribute to the growth of each other. The CLE members wanted to overcome the individualistic or ‘kanya-kanya’ mentality of the residents of Culion which is why they strove to establish this partnership. CLE members can be described as business partners, as they source their commodities and services from one another. If one institution needs something, they turn first to each other. For example, Hotel Maya procure ingredients for their menu from the ICCC and fresh seafood from the POs, while Kawil Tours lodge their guests at the hotel. The POs’ wholesale and retail stores also get their products from the cooperative. Meanwhile, the LCC contributes to the promotion of social entrepreneurship and tourism in Culion through their academic programme on entrepreneurial tourism.
The CLE as a whole and its individual member-organizations were key partners of the ISO in the implementation of the project entitled ‘Promoting Participatory Island Development Strategy in Culion, Palawan’. Supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Phil-Am Fund, the project’s main goal was to ensure the integrity of the biodiversity of the coastal and marine resources of Culion in the Calamianes Group of Islands through participatory governance.
Working for the economic development of their members and partners in the community, the CLE has been identified by ISO to provide the link between environmental conservation and livelihood development. They were present in the major activities of the said project, such as the Participatory Coastal Resources and Ecological Assessment (PCREA) data gathering, organizational development, mangrove reforestation activities, and the social enterprise component. During the preparations for the operations of the social enterprises, it was agreed by the stakeholders to set-up a Livelihood Revolving Fund (LRF) which shall serve as the sustainability mechanism of the enterprises. Instead of giving the livelihood capital as a grant to the POs, it shall be given to them as a soft loan which they must re-pay. The CLE was identified to manage this fund. As the POs also prepare for the operations of their social enterprises, the more business savvy members of the CLE are providing technical assistance to them.
Even after the said project, the CLE remains an ally of ISO in promoting sustainable economic development in Culion by ensuring that environmental conservation is at the heart of local business practices.
Written by Anna Fatima Joven, ISO ISD Coordinator