By Christina Reyes, KF10, Ahon Sa Hirap, Inc. (ASHI), Philippines

The women of Ahon Sa Hirap, Inc. in the Antique province of the Philippines are “bringing sexy back”.   To celebrate its members’ accomplishments, the ASHI Antique South branch hosts the annual “Feeling Sexy” pageant open to all its women entrepreneurs.  Nominated by their peers at ASHI, the “Feeling Sexy” contestants are evaluated in different categories including leadership &  community involvement, talent, and “Best in Gown”.

ASHI Members in the "Feeling Sexy" contest. Contestants are wearing evening gowns made from recyclable materials such as rice sacks

In discussing the power of microfinance, the focus is often on tangible benefits to borrowers such as access to loans and capital, life insurance, and savings funds.   To me, it is the intangible benefits such as building and celebrating self-confidence that are invaluable.  As fish vendors, variety store owners, livestock breeders, and farmers, the women and contestants of ASHI’s “Feeling Sexy” contest are my role models who have inspired me with their beauty, poise, and inner spirit.

Dress 1: Made from corn husks, banana fiber, pandan leaves (from palm tree), capiz shells, and dried flowers

Dress 2: Made from pandan leaves (from palm tree), drinking straws, wild flowers, dried vegetables, and broken CDs

Dress 2: Close-up shot

To promote environmental and green initiatives, the “Feeling Sexy” pageant contestants were asked to create evening gowns made from all natural, indigenous products and recyclable materials.  Check out these couple pictures showcasing some of their exquisite  handmade dresses.

Dress 1: Close-up shot

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About ASHI: With portfolio loans to 100% women, ASHI has the distinction of being the oldest existing replication of the Grameen Bank approach in the Philippines.  In addition to general business loans, ASHI also offers educational loans, house repair loans, savings funds, and social development programs for its members.

Browse ASHI members to make a new loan here.

Read more about ASHI here.

Join the ASHI Lending Team and credit your loans to ASHI here.

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Christina Reyes is a KF10 Kiva Fellow serving her placement with Ahon sa Hirap, Inc. (ASHI) in the Philippines.  As a first generation Filipino-American, she feels especially honored to pay it forward in a country so close to her heart.


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