Empowering Fishers to Build Sustainable Seafood Businesses Through Savings Clubs

FCI increases incomes of fishing families by enabling them as producers of sustainably-sourced seafood products.

Photo of Jesalee Rose Ong
6 8

Written by

I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Fishers & Changemakers Inc.

Year founded

2014

Initiative stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $10k - $50k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 100 - 250

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • Philippines

Headquarters location: City

CEBU

Location(s) of impact

Philippines: Cebu, Looc, Lubang, Cantilan, Cortes, Binduy, Ayungon

Website

www.balangaysbest.com

Facebook URL

https://web.facebook.com/balangaysbest

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

Despite over US$900M that fisheries generate in Philippine revenues, nearly 2 million fishermen live in poverty. They are known as poorest of the poor, with poverty incidence in coastal communities at 43.2%. Middlemen purchase fishermen’s catch at prices significantly below market price, and despite 12-16-hour work days, fishers earn less than $3/day on average. To make a living, they resort to illegal fishing practices. As of 3 years ago, 10,000 incidents of dynamite fishing are recorded per day.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

Fishers & Changemakers Incorporated (FCI) works with fishermen committed to sustainable fishing practices. We purchase their catch at fair market prices (nearly 2X the price paid by middlemen), teach them how to process dried seafood, and market and distribute packaged, dried seafood to consumer markets. Demand for dried seafood is steadily rising. Demand for export is estimated at 5 tons/month, and only 7% is being met. To scale production to meet demand, FCI creates savings groups among fishers called Balangays. We train each Balangay to operate like its own business: they raise their own capital and produce dried seafood at FCI standards, which they can sell to us or at local markets. Increased income among FCI fishers incentivizes others to practice sustainable fishing—a strict requirement for joining a Balangay. From a business perspective, we partner with fishermen to increase capacity and share accountability for production, while tapping into their abilities as entrepreneurs.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

From an initial capital of US$2,500 two years ago, FCI now works with 150 fishing families from 7 municipalities in Central Philippines. From being bottom of the pyramid laborers, FCI fishermen are now protectors of marine life, actively campaigning for sustainable fishing practices in their communities. By demonstrating that fishermen can earn a decent living and increase their incomes without destroying marine life, more are turning to responsible fishing. After FCI began purchasing fishers’ produce at fair market price, we became every fisherman’s trader of choice, and other traders have begun offering fair prices to retain access to supply. In each fishing family, FCI fishermen have more than doubled their annual income, allowing them to invest in education, nutrition, and healthcare. By respecting fishermen as producers and entrepreneurs, FCI is setting a new standard that moves fishing families out of poverty while protecting marine life, one fishing community at a time.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

FCI initial capital of $2,500 was raised from friends who believed in the vision of the enterprise. Over two years, FCI is sustained by individual investors, grants, and our revenues from sales of branded, dried seafood products. By scaling while decentralizing production, we increase our sales and simultaneously drive down production costs. We project to be 100% financially sustainable through the company's earned income 5 years from now.

Since our founding up to our last completed fiscal year, FCI's annual budget is sourced from:
1. Individual donations or gifts - 42%
2. Grants - 35%
3. Corporate contributions - N/A
4. Earned income - 23%
5. Other - N/A

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

The brand value of a responsible social business makes our initiative innovative. There are a lot of manufacturers of dried seafood, often obtained through environmentally detrimental means. What we introduced to the market is a brand that they can trust to provide clean and sustainably, responsibly sourced dried seafood products. We attribute high market adoption to this brand value. Consumers appreciate a nationalistic brand that increases the incomes of fishers, while protecting marine life.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

When Typhoon Haiyan hit Cebu, Philippines in 2013, I was sent to Bantayan Island to distribute boats to fishermen through Gawad Kalinga Foundation. There, I lived in the homes of fishing families and labored with fishermen from dawn to dusk. I saw that they needed more than boats. They needed to be respected as dignified producers and empowered changemakers who can lift themselves out of poverty, and change the course of marine degradation that also destroy their livelihood.

With 2 co-founders, we started Fishers & Changemakers Incorporated to address the derailed lives of fishing families in Bantayan Island. We did not expect to be leading a growing business today. With the persistent problem of fisherfolk poverty and marine destruction, we rise to the challenge and champion sustainable fishing and increase fishermen’s income by showcasing Philippine products to global markets.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Social media

Program Design Clarity: We are hungry to know more about what exactly your model consists of. Succinctly list a) what main activities are you doing with your beneficiaries, b) where you carry out the activities? c) how often? d) for how many hours? e) who delivers the services? and f) any other brief details

FCI sets up Balangay savings groups in 4 stages:

1. Introducing the business model – We conduct a 1-day orientation for fishermen interested in joining or setting up their own Balangay savings group.
2. Product training – For 16-20 hours of training a week after orientation, we make sure fishers are aware of and committed to sustainable fishing practices. We also train them on dry fish production and introduce clean and natural manufacturing practices. Finally, FCI trains fishers on small business management, including product development and marketing. To provide high-quality training, FCI partners with experts in the field, including NGOs (RARE Philippines) and local government offices (Department of Science and Technology).
3. Values formation – For 6 months after forming a new Balangay, FCI conducts weekly 4-hour training sessions to build values essential to building conscious businesses. FCI emphasizes that fishers are responsible for their families, communities, the country, and the environment.
4. Club management – Each Balangay participates in monthly coaching sessions for continuous improvement of business systems, overall state of operations, and financial health.

Balangays make decisions on their own businesses and weigh in on overall org strategy.

“I thought I would only travel out of my island to catch more fish. Now I sail to multiple places to train fishermen aspiring to create their own business.” – James Mata, Fisherman & FCI Operations Offic

Focus area

  • Rural Development

We are interested in learning more about your initiative's broad impact on sustainable development. Please reply ONLY to the question(s) related to your above focus area.

FCI’s was founded with rural development in mind. Our business model increases fishermen’s income in multiple ways: (1) by purchasing their catch at fair market price (immediately doubling previous earnings); (2) by increasing the value of their produce through post-processing into dried seafood; and (3) by allowing them access to a larger market beyond demand from local towns and extortionist middlemen. On top of increased income for fishers themselves, FCI also employs their wives who take care of dried seafood production and packaging. This empowers women in the community who are elevated in status as partners in income generation, which supplement their role in managing the household.

Furthermore, Balangay savings groups are built to function as independent enterprises in charge of managing and growing their own production of dried seafood. With an export market demand of 5 tons of dried seafood per month, fishing families are given the agency to increase their incomes in limitless ways. A testament to the entrepreneurial spirit unleashed by FCI, we’ve seen families begin to save surplus income to grow their Balangay business.

When fishing families increase their purchasing power, they invest in their families’ basic needs. They purchase healthier food options in the local market, and spend on their children’s education and healthcare. These spur economic activity in local municipalities where livelihoods were previously limited by inequitable market norms.

Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?

FCI creates value for fishing communities, the Philippine fisheries sector, and responsible & ethical consumers / retailers—all while preventing marine degradation.
*For fisherman Edgar Fernandez, FCI enabled him to buy daily supply of rice for his family. For one of FCI’s women producers, her new source of income allows her to invest in her children’s education, while saving money for business capital.
*For the fisheries sector, FCI creates value by showcasing its produce in global markets. This year, FCI’s products were sold in the PH Department of Foreign Affairs’ food tour across North America.
*For responsible consumers and retailers, FCI has become a trusted brand for ethically and naturally produced seafood. Jay Aldeguer, Island Group of Companies, an FCI partner retailer, made our case for shared value: “FCI creates a paradigm shift by making communities a part of the value chain. Better dynamics between producers in the value chain create sustainable and long-term impact."

How is your initiative funded, now and over the next 5 years?

In its first 2 years, FCI’s expenses totaled US$13,420. Of this budget, 23% was financed by FCI’s earned revenue, and the remainder was sourced from grants and donations. In 2017, with the introduction of Balangay savings groups, our annual budget of US$8,860 was covered by US$7,200 in earned revenue (81%) and the rest was financed by donations.

Over the next 5 years, we will focus on raising US$50,000 in capital for facilities, infrastructure, and equipment necessary for acquiring Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) approval for export. Compliance to export requirements will enable CFI to accelerate its growth rate with a global market ready to absorb supply. After these capital expenditures, we expect to be 100% sustainable by 2022.

How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the CSV Prize?

The Nestle CSV Prize will lend international credibility to FCI, which will allow us to accelerate our work with partners in the field. Immediately, we will organize a roundtable discussion with NGOs and local government representatives to share our plans of investing in their municipalities with the prize award.

Using the CSV Prize, we also want to influence more social businesses in our field to implement creating shared value in growing their enterprise. From being product-based businesses common in our social enterprise sector today, we want to use FCI as a case study and ask: How can your business create value for all stakeholders in the ecosystem, create positive environmental outcomes, and ultimately scale to end a social problem?

How will you leverage an investment from Nestle to expand the impact of your work?

Nestle’s investment can be catalytic for FCI by building up our capacity in 3 areas: infrastructure, internal systems, and consumer awareness. On infrastructure: we have not been to able to acquire the necessary requirements for export due to the limited size of our production center. We will invest in a customized space that will allow Balangays to mass process dried seafood. On internal systems: we will create modules, materials, and technology-enabled tools that will help speed up the training of new Balangays. On consumer awareness: we’ve been successful at connecting general audiences to the plight of fishermen through our social media posts. We will invest in a strategic awareness education campaign to accelerate this movement.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact? What’s the projected impact for the coming years? Are you planning to expand your programme into new locations? On what assumptions do you build your scale-up plans?

Since 2015, we have doubled the number of provinces we reach each year. From 1 in 2015, to 5 in 2017. We will keep at a 100% growth rate until we reach 80 provinces by 2022. This will be possible through a structured, replicable process of setting up a Balangay—a savings group among fishing communities that will manage their own dried seafood production enterprise. FCI aims to set up 2 Balangays in each province, each with a minimum membership of 30 fishermen. At this growth rate, we will increase the income of 4,800 fishing families, reaching 24,300 people, by 2022. When fishers have new means to grow their income, we also expect to see a reduction in dynamite fishing activities.

This growth will be possible once FCI begins to export its products. We have a waitlist of international retailers prepared to absorb supply, and are working with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Reform and the Department of Trade and Industry to ensure FCI’s compliance with government requirements.

Team: What is the current composition of your team (types of roles, number of full-time vs. part-time staff, board members, etc.)? How will this team evolve as your initiative grows?

FCI was founded and is led by 3 full-time seasoned development workers with vast experience in community organizing, organizational development, and capacity building programs. The leadership team oversees product design, partnerships, market distribution, and overall growth strategy. Two part-time founding team members oversee marketing, sales, and financial management for FCI.

FCI employs 3 full-time Operations Officers from our communities. From fishing families with decades of experience in producing dried seafood, they manage production and ensure the quality of FCI products across all Balangays.

FCI will employ 2-3 full-time Operations Officers for every 5-10 provinces, depending on geographic limitations. We will also hire full-time Ops, Sales, Marketing, and Finance Officers.

Awards: What awards or honors has the initiative received?

FCI is one of the 10 BPI Sinag Business Challenge 2016 Awardees, an iconic program that supports businesses with triple bottom line models—people, planet, and profit.

British Council Philippines recognized FCI’s “Linked by the Sea” advocacy campaign for increasing consumer awareness on sustainable fishing and ethical food production.

Organizational leadership: How are you influencing your field of work in the present?

FCI participates in Gawad Kalinga’s Gkonomic’s ASAM, a brand for products made by Philippine community members in collaboration with the country’s best designers. FCI leaders share their experience and strategies for creating shared value with other aspiring entrepreneurs in the group. Through this network, FCI influences the growing community of social entrepreneurs in the Philippines.

FCI has been recognized for its work with the fishing communities and for being the voice for all the fishers in the country. FCI leaders act as partners to government agencies, like the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Reforms (BFAR). We recently participated in BFAR’s strategic planning for the fisheries sector.

Should you be successful, please confirm your availability to attend the Ashoka Impact Boot camp and Creating Shared Value Prize Live Pitch Event at the World Water Forum 13-16 March 2018

  • Yes, I am available to attend the events on 13-16 March 2018

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 0%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 100%

3 - I think the idea is great, but it needs some work before it moves onto the next round. - 0%

2 - I liked it fine but preferred others. - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. Needs significant revisions. - 0%

2. Innovation

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 100%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Social and/or Environmental Impact

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 66.7%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

4. Financial sustainability

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 100%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 50%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 0%

5. Potential to Scale / Replicability

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 50%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 50%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

6. Organizational Leadership

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 66.7%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

7. Potential for Creating Shared Value

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 66.7%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

6 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Caroline Webb

It is good news for fisher’s family as FCI has increased incomes of fishing families by enabling them as producers of sustainably-sourced seafood products. And thanks for sharing the eligibility criteria.

Caroline,
http://www.personalstatementfolks.co.uk

Photo of Whitney

This is something I would really look forward to. Thanks for sharing your idea. Hope it will be a success! Comments from http://joueur.portfoliolounge.com/portfolio/video-poker-pattern Visit us when you have some spare time.

Photo of Emiliano Iturriaga

Jet, I love this idea! I think the most powerful part of it is the fact that you are not being only a middleman, but helping small fishing enterprises thrive. I would pay special attention to the capacities that the community members are developing. How would they be able to apply the capacities they are developing in the long term, of if FCI didn't exist?

Photo of Jesalee Rose Ong

Hi Emiliano �� Our model includes capacitating the group to establish the local market. Hence, their enterprise will thrive even without FCI.

Photo of Mouhamadou Moustapha Seck

Congratulations. Really promising work.

Photo of Jesalee Rose Ong

Thank you ��