Australian Embassy
The Philippines


Australian Government’s Enterprise Challenge Fund announces first grant awardee from the Philippines

17 October 2008

An abaca business project that will benefit over 900 indigenous families has been selected by the Australian Government’s Enterprise Challenge Fund (ECF) as the first grant awardee from the Philippines.

ECF has announced it will provide a grant of about Php13 million (A$346,130) to Cagayan De Oro Handmade Paper Crafts, Inc. The business aims to improve the supply of abaca tow raw material and expand the existing 150 hectares of abaca farm lands in Malitbog, Bukidnon and Claveria, Misamis Oriental. The grant is the highest so far approved by ECF among participating countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Many farmers from the Higaunon tribe grow abaca in remote areas but cannot sell their products due to poor transportation. This project aims to help those farmers build links between their villages and Cagayan de Oro City.

Australian Ambassador Rod Smith said, “This project demonstrates how Australian aid to the Philippines is working in a practical way to build sustainable economic opportunities for Filipinos.”

The abaca plant, harvested for its fibre, is often used to make rope or fabric.

“Aside from providing a ready market for the abaca tow, the farmers will also be trained on value-adding activities such as pulping, weaving, natural dye production, and accessory making. The project also aims to link the farmers with market for their finished product both here and abroad,” said Ambassador Smith.

Funded by the Australian Government’s Agency for International Development, AusAID, the ECF provides businesses with grants ranging from Php3.8 million (A$100,000) to Php57 million (A$1.5 million) to support sound business ideas that can also have a positive impact on poverty reduction. By providing up to half of the project’s costs, the Fund helps otherwise profitable business projects overcome external obstacles and share some of the risk.

ECF operates in Cambodia, East Timor, Fiji, Lao PDR, Papua New Guinea, southern Philippines, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and selected Provinces of Indonesia. The Fund is being managed by Coffey International Development. For more information on bidding rounds visit the ECF website at

Mr Jason Magnaye, ECF Philippines Country Manager
(+63) 920 945 9984, mailto:[email protected]