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Philippines: Red Cross Seed Money Helps Businesses Grow

Red Cross Seed Money Helps Businesses Grow

“If the Red Cross gives us something, we will make sure it will not go to waste. It is worth the investment,” says Nicasio Gregorio as he packs little bags of garlic, pepper, and bleach powder to sell at the market.

Nicasio and his wife, Maricel lost their home and income when Typhoon Haiyan struck their town in November 2013, but they are now on their way to rebuilding their small business thanks to donations to the American Red Cross.

The couple had challenges even before their house was washed away by the powerful storm nearly a year ago. Nicasio is visually impaired and doesn’t have a lot of options when it comes to earning an income. Maricel was pregnant with their third child when the typhoon hit.

The Red Cross will provide seed money to the couple so they can continue to buy and resell products to their neighbors. The cash grant—not requiring repayment— will serve as important capital so they can widen their profit margin and grow their business. The money they will receive is part of more than $7.6 million that the American Red Cross has spent or committed to livelihoods programs on the islands of Cebu and Leyte.

In the couple’s town of San Vicente, most families lost their main source of income when the typhoon made landfall. Coconut farmers by trade, they saw about 90 percent of their cash crop destroyed by the storm’s high winds. Even people who didn’t earn their income through agriculture—like Nicasio and Maricel—were impacted by the aching economy.

Many of Nicasio and Maricel’s neighbors also will be receiving cash grants to grow their small businesses. Reviving income-generating activities is an important step to helping people recover from one of the strongest storms to make landfall in the country’s recorded history.

As for Nicasio and Marisel, the couple is hopeful that with the income they earn, they might be able to afford electricity, which will help Nick to navigate better in the evenings. They’re also eager to see all three children start and graduate from school, stating that education is the best gift they can leave their children.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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