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Almost all our Filipino entrepreneurs are in the micro, small and medium enterprise category. This is why, for a couple of years now, Go Negosyo has been partnering with various organizations whose focus is the MSME sector. This month, Go Negosyo lends its support and is also a major partner to the Citi Microentrepreneur of the Year (MOTY) Awards.
I’ve mentioned in my other column that I and fellow judges Marixi Prieto of Inquirer, Fernando Zobel de Ayala of Ayala Corporation, Deputy Gov. Nestor Espenilla (for Gov. Amando Tetangco) of the BSP, and Sanjiv Vohra of Citi Philippines selected the finalists. Citi Philippines, the Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc. and the BSP have been running this program for nine years.
The stories of microentrepreneurs are probably the most inspirational because of their struggle and how they overcame daunting challenges despite scarce resources. Because of this, I’d like to go back to featuring these entrepreneurs. Here, I present the stories of the Citi MOTY finalists.
Anastasio Postrero, who started with a small sari-sari store with startup capital of P3,000, saw opportunity in a water-delivery service in their town where potable water is scarce. Apart from this, since his home in Cebu is a town of fishermen, Anastasio seized what bounty the area has and is now thriving in “guso” seaweed farming and danggit buying and selling.
Subaida Maik on the other hand complements her sari-sari store negosyo with the buying and selling of malong, a multicolored, intricately printed tube skirt worn traditionally by women in Southern Philippines. She immediately responded to the demand for these skirts especially in her mostly Muslim province in Cotabato.
Rosita Bolanos and her husband have always been into selling food, starting with banana-cue and drinks, then expanding into pizza, immediately capturing the palate of locals. They eventually also set up a small canteen stall, and with their earnings and financial help from the Rural Bank of Sto. Tomas, also established a barber shop and computer shop.
John Cabillon and his wife didn’t let a few flops stand in their way, such as with the selling of polvoron and yemma. Instead, they, too, earned a living from the natural resources Iloilo has to offer, and are now established with their multiple negosyos in fresh squid buying and selling, sea cucumber dealing, lapu-lapu fish farming, as well as a negosyo for motorcycles and tricycles for hire and, of course, their sari-sari store.
Meanwhile, the other finalists banked on their will to survive despite their unfortunate circumstance. When Corazon Bautista, who was working as a seamstress, couldn’t make ends meet with her scant wages, she took that bold step in selling the clothing she sewed herself. It was a brave move and had a lot of risks, but with optimism and willpower, Corazon is now her own manufacturer of ready-to-wear clothing which is sold in five malls in Metro Manila.
Jocelyn de Guzman found herself suddenly jobless after the factory she worked in closed down. Unfazed, she used what skills she learned from making footwear in the factory, and started to manufacture slippers and sandals herself. Branding her footwear Jasmine Footwear, Jocelyn now sells 600 dozens of slippers and sandals per week to the Baclaran market.
Danelito Castro and his wife were also jobless when they realized that they could offer real benefits to the community with their knowledge of herbal medicine. They harvested herbs, roots and barks from the mountains in Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte and concocted indigenous herbal oil medicine which they called the Millennium Herbal Oil. Because of its efficacy, Danelito has earned his own following of loyal clients who can testify to the effectiveness of their product.
Andresa Javines, like still many Filipinos today, did not finish grade school and hence found it difficult to get a job, settling for whatever post the wharf had to offer. Though she did not finish, life to her was continuous education. She learned the trick of the trade and learned to produce corrugated boxes as well as aluminum foam sheets used for containing tuna. Today, Nanay Andresa is the only one of two who are producing special ice gels that prolong the freshness of fish and she’s the preferred manufacturer and supplier of ready-to-use packing materials by two large tuna exporters.
Catalina Sayson was also not able to finish school, eloping with her then-boyfriend at 18 years old. Fending for themselves with no diploma or college degree, the couple made a living by making and selling popcorn, ice cream and peanuts. With a prime location and just the right market, they’ve earned enough to create a makeshift food cart using a motorcycle, which would be the start of their successful food cart business.
Sylvia dela Cruz gave up the sacrifices that usually come with being an OFW and instead returned home to her friends and family with a bright idea. She decided to become an entrepreneur to fight poverty by means of selling the Filipino favorite tuyo. A native of Pangasinan, she knows that getting a steady supply of the fish from the province should be no hard task. Today, she provides dried fish to all of Pangasinan, as well as some areas in Baguio, La Union, and overseas in Hong Kong and the US.
Anita Mandalupe’s mother died when she was nine and she, along with her siblings, did not always see eye-to-eye with their stepmother. When she won the rights to her mother’s property, she learned how to plant rice and corn as a means for their income. She sought ways to improve the process, and after several training sessions and seminars, she eventually became a certified rice zzzseed producer, selling sacks worth P1,200 each.
The other microentrepreneurs simply jumped at an opportunity when it came. Natividad Gabriel grew up with her father’s fish trading business and developed entrepreneurial qualities while young. Taking after her father, she took out a loan from Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation and started her own fish trading business, then later also a red grouper (suno) culture negosyo. To date, Naty has four different kinds of negosyo, including dried fish processing and farming.
Hermis Tan also has his parents to thank for the entrepreneurial skills he learned early on, being a son of a couple running a hardware negosyo. Hermis was heir to a five-hectare lot, and he certainly did not waste this inheritance. He planted it with rubber trees, and then tapped the profitability of abaca fiber by also planting abaca. Abaca farming is now his primary livelihood, and his earnings from growing and harvesting this plant has also afforded him the creation of his own bakery.
Carina Gonato has been helping her husband earn money by selling ready-made chicken lumpia. Seeing that lumpia-selling could be a steady negosyo for her, she cooked up her own special recipe, taking comments and suggestions from friends and existing customers, and branded it Nateck’s Chicken Lumpia. Delicious and low-priced, her special chicken lumpia is now selling between 4,000 to 6,000 packs a day to various wholesale buyers.
Once a full-time homemaker, Susana Miranda is now running a thriving furniture-making negosyo. She immediately embarked on this opportunity when a neighbor requested her husband Boy to build a chinaware cabinet. Seeing promise in this enterprise, she used her loans from Cantilan Bank to buy the materials and equipment needed. Susana’s Carlos Miranda Furniture now has 20 workers and receives orders from Surigao and Manila.
The finalists are a true testament that anyone can win over poverty and make a better life for themselves with hard work, a positive mindset and a passion for negosyo.