BFI

Non-profit development organisation with a mission
Baba’s Foundation (BFI), a non-profit development organisation in the Philippines, provides technical assistance, education and aid primarily to women, farmers and children. Founded in 1987 in the city of Davao in southern Philippines, BFI runs development programmes that include cooperatives, micro-finance, sustainable agriculture and child education.

BFI’s executive director, Cristita “Tara” Racosalem-Epal, says that BFI’s employees see their work as a mission. ”I think the secret of BFI’s success lies in its deep spiritual and service orientation. BFI sees its work with the poor not just as an activity, but as a mission. Hence, whether we have funds for some of our projects or not, we move on, because we believe money is not the main focus, it is just a tool. At BFI once we assess that a program is critical for people’s welfare, we move ahead with it, finding funds along the way.”

An experienced development worker at the helm of the Foundation
Tara was born in the village of Mangili, in the province of Davao del Sur, in southern Philippines. She was appointed BFI’s Executive Director in 1992. Before joining BFI she worked for an NGO called TACDRUP (Technical Assistance Centre for the Development of Rural and Urban Poor). During her six years with TACDRUP she worked as community organizer, training assistant, training officer, and program officer for gender and development.

BFI’s development strategy
BFI believes that real development requires grassroots support and must occur within the socio-cultural framework of the participants. The participants must be educated and aware of social, economic and political realities to be able to determine their own future. Education is therefore the main strategy of BFI’s development programs.

Philanthropic organisation provides aid to poor people
BFI was established to assist marginalized sectors of society, as the Philippines emerged from the political crisis of the early 1980s. In the early 1980s, the Philippines suffered from extreme poverty, injustice and decadence brought about by unequal distribution of wealth, the suppression of the masses by the political class, and a lack of unity and direction.

The troubled economy of the Philippines
Some 40 % of the population of the Philippines live below the poverty line. The bottom 10 % of households earn 1.5 % of the country’s income, while the top 10 % earn 39.3 %. The unemployment rate is 27 %.

The early days of BFI
In the first years of operation BFI was volunteer-based, and provided food aid to destitute people, especially children, and assisted disaster victims with relief aid and counselling support to ease trauma. Later BFI expanded its activities into development programmes, and hired two professional staff members.

This expansion led to BFI providing loans to street vendors and small businesses, and educating their children in pre-schools. The micro-credit programme started with a capital of P 50,000 ( US $ 909), provided by the board of directors and
sympathizers. With this modest amount, BFI assisted 25 small vendors and got a very high repayment rate of 100 per cent. Encouraged by this initial success, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) granted BFI a loan of P 100,000
(US $ 1,808), which was in turn lent to vendors and small businesses, and repaid in 2 years.

The development of BFI
Following its early success, BFI expanded. ”Seeing the joy of the growing number of poor people participating in the programs, BFI realized that it had a significant impact on the lives of these communities,” Tara said.

Our Mission … To serve as a vehicle for achieving lasting improvements in the quality of life of the marginal sectors of our society through a holistic process that transform and unite people and communities. More about our services

Our Vision … A world in which all human beings are empowered and have realized their physical, mental and spiritual potentials, where communities are self reliant, balanced and sustainable, and where people live in harmony amidst diversity.  More about Us