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After launching the Kapatid, Angat Lahat program last August, we have launched one of its components, the Go Negosyo Mentor Me program, in different provinces and cities such as Cavite, Tarlac, Baguio, Iloilo, Tacloban, Cebu, Davao, General Santos, Cayagan de Oro, Tubod and Zamboanga. For the past months, together with DTI and our partners, we have deployed many entrepreneur-mentors who are willing to guide and assist the micro entrepreneurs (MEs) in their journey to scaling up.
First batch of graduates from Mentor ME Baguio with DTI-CAR representatives and panelists.
Just recently, Baguio and Zamboanga concluded their first batch of Mentor ME last Nov. 18 and 21, respectively. Their culmination day is a combination of business plan presentation and graduation rites. During the presentation, mentees were asked to present their business model or plans for expansion to a panel composed of a) bank/financing institution, b) entrepreneurs whose expertise are on operations and marketing, c) Go Negosyo Angelpreneur/DTI regional director and their d) Negosyo Center business counselor who will help them realize these plans even after graduating from the Mentor ME program.
For most of those who are already running their business for years, I am equally surprised and relieved that it’s their first time to prepare a business plan. Relieved simply because they are appreciative of the fact that at last someone has taught them that a detailed plan is essential for an entrepreneur who is eager to be successful. I am delighted to share some of the first batch of mentees’ inspiring feedback and stories during their culmination day.
First is 57 years-old Perlita Ballacillo from Abra, owner of Emilia’s Herbal Products, who worked as a lady guard for more than 25 years in different buildings of DTI in Metro Manila.
Initially, she had no plans of starting a business but when her brother who was getting bald tried a branded hair-grower which caused him severe allergies, it convinced Perlita to make her own herbal hair-grower. During her shift, she conducted research on herbal medicines and brought small amounts of ingredients from her salary.
To her surprise, the concoction cured her brother and his hair even grew. She started to give it to friends in need of the hair tone and they usually came back to her with positive feedback, so she started making more. Through her research, she realized that the raw materials can be naturally sourced from her province, so when she went back to Abra last year, she started seeking assistance through the local DTI. After that, she joined her very first local trade fair. After selling a few bottles, she realized she could make a living out of the hair toner and help her family without being away from them.
From her first hair grower, Perlita now produces other herbal products such as facial cream, facial toner and herbal shampoo. Her co-mentees, who can vouch for the effectivity of her products, are now helping her market the hair toner through their own network – talk about market linkages among micro entrepreneurs!
Besides the knowledge on proper pricing and costing, Perlita is really thankful for the business plan development module. “Wala po kasi talaga kaming idea na lahat pala ng maaring mangyari sa negosyo mo ay mag-uumpisa sa pag-plano,” she said.
Zamboanga Mentor ME graduates with DTI 9 and DTI Zamboanga panelists.
Another is Estrella Dinampo from Zamboanga. She is the president of a group with 20 women members called Tugbungan-Ayudahan Livelihood Association which produces assorted bags and slippers out of locally sourced canvas, cloth and batik. Some of the members are under the 4Ps program of DSWD and most of them are victims of the armed conflict in their area. In 2014, they moved to Tubungan where they all met in a 15-day LGU initiated livelihood seminar where they collectively decided to start an association.
Today, they have a total of nine sewing machines, five of which were given through loan assistance of the government, four were bought from their earnings. With an average daily income ranging from P300 to P1,000/women, depending on the demand, Estrella is hopeful her learnings from the mentors will help her and the association to expand, helping more women in their community.
When asked on her best take from the program she says, “Maliban po sa production and operation management, ang pinaka tumatak po sa akin ay ‘yung mindsetting, mahirap po talaga mag negosyo pero nung nag attend ako ng Mentor ME, nakita ko na may pag asa at may oportunidad na lumago. Marami akong natutunan.”
Some of the Zamboanga and Baguio mentees who graduated are former OFWs and have now decided not to go back to being an OFW. The mentees come from different backgrounds but are all thankful because of Mentor ME. They realize that mentoring is important in starting and running a business. One of them even told the panel, “I should’ve met Mentor Me Program five years ago, I could’ve been a big player now!”
These are just two of the many inspiring stories from the first batch of this nationwide mentoring program. Before we go on our own holidays this December, there will be more Mentor ME graduations in different regions. And next year, we will have more Mentor ME launches in various Negosyo Centers. Together with our partners and DTI, it will be our mission to bring this mentoring program nationwide.