The SEDP started out in 1994 as one of the programs of the Social Action Center (SAC) of the Diocese of Legazpi. It was then a component of the Food Transition Strategy (FTS) II, a program of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The project was undertaken under the title Targeted Women and their Families for Socio-Economic Development (TAWFSED) from which evolved the present SEDP. It was conceived as a viable option to assist the poor and marginalized women of Albay in improving their family incomes by supporting livelihood projects through the provision of financial assistance. Income shortages experienced by these women were largely attributed to their lack of access to capital, and poor competitive advantage – constraints which were easily traced to their generally low level of education, lack of entrepreneurial knowledge and skills, and low appreciation of development values, attitudes, and practices. To address these constraints, SEDP pursued a mutually reinforcing community development strategy that combines credit assistance and institution building with sub-components for value orientation, spiritual formation, and appropriate technological and skills development.
In its early years of implementation, this multi-component development strategy adopted by SAC’s SEDP has achieved significant gains by adopting the Grameen scheme in 1999. As of 2012, its membership has expanded to more than 34,000 covering all the municipalities and cities in Albay, and some parts of other Bicol provinces, specifically, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, and Masbate. The remarkable increase in SEDP membership gained momentum following the feasibility study on expansion conducted by SAC in 2006 when total SEDP membership had reached only 17,739 covering 14 municipalities and 3 cities in Albay. The study established the viability of SEDP expansion in identified areas in the four (4) Bicol provinces mentioned. The latest addition to SEDP coverage is Catarman, a municipality in northern Samar, Region 8, Eastern Visayas. SEDP has 1,099 centers operational in 720 barangays in Albay alone. This microfinance subsidiary of SAC Legazpi now comes under the official name SEDP – SIMBAG SA PAG-ASENSO, INC.
Aside from the program’s credit assistance and savings mobilization scheme, SEDP has expanded its services to include social benefits such as micro-insurance, spiritual formation and training, scholarship for members’ children, health-related services, entrepreneurial capability building, and facilitation of SSS membership. These are some of the indicators of the social performance management of SEDP. Over time, SEDP has delivered and sustained these services to the marginalized women of the province and their families with the end in view of improving their socio-economic condition, gaining political and economic empowerment for women and enhancing their social, cultural and spiritual well-being. With the rapid expansion of SEDP to more areas within Albay and other Bicol provinces, it has tremendously increased also its capacity as well as its capability to improve its multi-faceted social services.