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Cablegate: Ambassador Highlights Economic Development In

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1. The Ambassador's trip to Cagayan de Oro on June 8
highlighted U.S. business interests and USAID's active
engagement in the commercial center of Northern Mindanao.
Cagayan de Oro is a gateway and regional market for eight
cities representing five provinces in the region. It is a
medium-sized city with a population just over 460,000.
During her one-day visit, the Ambassador met with
beneficiaries of USAID projects including the
Microenterprise Access to Banking Services program and the
Avian Influenza Municipal Planning Workshops; attended the
launch of the USAID's Education and Employment Alliance
program; and toured the Rio Verde Water Consortium's Bulk
Water Supply Project. End summary.

Microenterprise Access to Banking Services

2. The Ambassador called on Green Bank, which participates
in USAID's Microenterprise Access to Banking Services (MABS)
program. The USG invested $17.5 million in this program
that provides training and technical assistance to rural
banks to develop their capability to offer loans and deposit
services to microenterprises on a self-sustaining, profit-
making basis. Ambassador Kenney praised small business
owners for their hard work and recognized the
accomplishments of Green Bank, which uses innovative
technology such as cell phone payment transfers and text
message invoice reminders to transact business with its
clients. The Green Bank network boasts 32 branches at
present, which represents a dramatic increase from six
branches when the bank joined the MABS program in 2000.
This individual network of banks has already dispersed $26
million in micro loans using business strategies promoted by
the MABS program.

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3. Green Bank managers marked the occasion of the
Ambassador's visit with a ceremony to recognize their
30,000th loan recipient, Rosie Bilog. Ms. Bilog's loan
enabled her to increase her working capital to support
operations of her cashew processing business. After the
ceremony, the Ambassador met with the local press
representatives and responded to a variety of questions on
topics ranging from the MABS program to the war on terror.

Avian Influenza Municipal Planning Workshop

4. The Ambassador delivered remarks at an Avian Influenza
(AI) Municipal Planning Workshop sponsored by USAID. The
USG has invested $129,000 to support a series of AI
Municipal Planning Workshops for representatives from 33
provinces to develop preparedness plans, conduct public
information campaigns and heighten surveillance. Human and
animal health professionals from the provinces of Surigao
Del Sur and Surigao Del Norte attended a 2-day session at
the Pryce Hotel in Cagayan De Oro on June 7-8. The
Ambassador joined the group mid-morning to offer
encouragement for the preparedness planning efforts. She
highlighted the importance of working together to prepare
for the possibility of an AI outbreak in the RP. She told
workshop participants that she admired their commitment to
protect the poultry industry and its workers by taking time
away from their daily routine to learn more about counter-AI
initiatives. The Ambassador's remarks were well received by
the group. During the Q&A session, one participant thanked
the Ambassador for her remarks and stated that her visit
marked the first time, in his experience, that an Ambassador
had recognized the contributions of health professionals.

Education & Employment Alliance

5. The Ambassador delivered the keynote speech at the
Education and Employment Alliance (EEA) program launch in
Cagayan de Oro. Together with the International Youth
Foundation, USAID is sponsoring the EEA program in cities
throughout the Southern island of Mindanao. The EEA
provides out of school youth with education and employment
opportunities to help them to earn a livelihood. USAID has
awarded $500,000 to support the three-year program.
International Youth Foundation (IYF) and local partners are
providing leverage that will double that amount. During her
speech, the Ambassador said that education is the most
important gift that we can offer to young people. She
recognized the EEA as a partnership with committed citizens

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and encouraged all to reach out to help young people find a
productive place in society. Local leaders including
Governor Oscar Moreno of the Misamis Oriental province also
endorsed the project. The event was well attended by local
leaders including the Governor, Mayors, educators and
project stakeholders. After the ceremony, the Ambassador
held a press conference together with project stakeholders
from the IYF, Consuelo Foundation and the Metal Working
Industry Association of the Philippines to respond to
questions about the EEA program.

Bulk Water Supply Project

6. The Ambassador also attended a signing ceremony for a
$9.6 million loan that the Development Bank of the
Philippines will provide to the Rio Verde Water Consortium,
Inc. for its Bulk Water Supply Project (BWSP) in Cagayan de
Oro. The consortium is owned by American and Filipino
investors. After the ceremony, she visited the construction
site of the BWSP which will provide potable drinking water
from a nearby river to citizens of the Cagayan De Oro and
ultimately replace the town's waning supply of well water,
which has become intermittently contaminated. The Rio Verde
Water Consortium is considering similar projects in
Zamboanga, Davao and Cebu.


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