SKILLS TRAINING. One of the 500 out-of-school youth from the pilot cities of Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Cotabato, and Quezon City counts his savings, in this undated photo. Through the Opportunity 2.0 project, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) boosted the financial management and entrepreneurial skills of the youngsters in these areas. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy)

CEBU CITY – At least 500 out-of-school youth in this city and four other localities nationwide have received financial support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

The youth, organized in five cities, have saved a total of PHP620,000 since January 2021 as they underwent technical-vocational and entrepreneurial skills training through a savings program.

In a statement, the U.S. Embassy said it has successfully hosted a learning event on May 9 to 10 in Cebu to look at the program implementation in the pilot cities of Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Cotabato, and Quezon City.

The agency partnered with Catholic Relief Services Philippines to implement the savings and lending approach of Savings and International Lending Communities (SILC) to give the youth essential skills in finance and business.

“The youth work with their peers to pool their resources, save up for their needs, and have a support group as they venture into small enterprises,” the statement said.

These saving and lending groups under SILC are composed of out-of-school youth trained by USAID’s Opportunity 2.0 project and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for skills in technical-vocational and entrepreneurship.

To date, these groups have loaned out PHP320,000 to support the education, training, livelihood, and other emergency needs of its youth members.

The mayor of the host city, Cebu City, Michael Rama, who chairs the USAID-supported Youth Development Alliance here, acknowledged USAID as “a longtime partner in development” and thanked the program for “equipping the youth with the skills for us to be able to take on the challenges of the future.”

Jerhom Trigosa, a youth member of a SILC group in Quezon City, shared how the group used their funds to invest in a small business with local urban farmers.

“We learned how to rotate and grow our savings through entrepreneurship. We took a loan from our group savings to invest and create pumpkin cookie samples. We wanted to help farmers in the community and also increase their sales as well as to promote healthier eating options,” Trigosa said. (PNA)