Sharpened by Challenges, Strengthened by Faith
“I just kept going.”
Adelaida Rabino, a 48-year old subcontractor of Natasha shoes may have gone through hardships since she started her business in 2003, but she did not let those discourage her. Hired by a general contractor, she performed the services in making the upper part of the shoes. She started with a capital of P 5,000 which she loaned from Alay Buhay. The business ran smoothly until the 2009 Ondoy typhoon. At that time, she had 3 factories and 20 employees. Being located in Marikina, the business did not escape the whip of devastation. She was left financially broken. “All my machines were submerged in the water. Not one was left working.” Even so, she was determined to continue. Adelaida started from scratch. Since in subcontracting, the orders just keep coming, she was able to get back to business. The usual number of orders that came in her line was 500 pairs. “Actually, it would be better if we were able to make more.”
It seemed things were getting better until another problem struck. She was diagnosed with a serious illness. “I had cancer.” She had to undergo chemotherapy so she asked her children to oversee the business. It was a year after when she was able to recover and head their business again. With consistent coming of orders and hard work, the business got back on track. She also had the opportunity to join the CMDC training as she was endorsed by Alay Buhay. She was introduced to certain business know-how an d was encouraged to improve the services that her business was offering. After the training, she came up with an idea to offer designs to the general contractor that would be used for the production. It did not take much time before these were used. Having strong faith in God, Adelaida was very grateful and expectant for what had happened.
But disaster struck again in the year 2012. The country was affected by another typhoon named Habagat. Despite of her big loss with machineries, Adelaida still managed to recover. She asked for a loan from Alay Buhay worth P50, 000. “I had to keep my business running and the loan was a huge help for it to regain its stable condition.” she said. She might have lost her machines but the people that she was working with never left her side. The general contractor had trust in her. “The order still kept coming. I am thankful with the trust that they have given me.”
Adelaida’s business is still in the recovering stage. “I am still on the process of paying my loan and slowly reinvesting with machines.” With 7 personnel, she now accepts orders from another shoe label, Bandolino.
Improvements might take time but she has some options that she wishes to carry out in the near future. Her plan is to build her own shoe store in a flood-free zone and directly supply local shoe stores in Marikina. “I just want to focus with shoes,” she shared.
|MFI||Alay Buhay Community Development Foundation Inc.|
|Educational Attainment||High school Graduate|
|Enterprise Name||Subcontractor of Natasha|
|No. of Years in the Business||10|
|Products and Services||Shoes|
|Monthly Gross Revenue||33,000|
|No. of employees||9|
In the Ministry of Good Business
If there is one thing Pastor Bienvenido Manglo has learned, it’s that being a good entrepreneur does not necessarily mean having to create your own products.
“The idea of becoming a retailer dawned on me when I attended courses at CMDC. I discovered the possibility of creating a market for products being made by other people,” he revealed.
A native of Batangas, Pastor Bienvenido is a 51-year old engineering graduate who now resides in Biñan, Laguna. He used to support his family by selling load for prepaid phones, raising livestock and soap-making. His strong faith as a pastor has helped him weather various challenges as an entrepreneur. “Sometimes I am baffled why I try all these businesses when I don’t even get much return,” he confessed.
Struggling to achieve his business goals, Pastor Bienvenido was referred to CMDC by the microfinance institution Center for Community Transformation (CCT). He was hesitant at the beginning. “I was already doing my ministry in my church, so I wondered what good would I get from it,” he shared. The experience proved to be worth it. “I met all these wonderful entrepreneurs who made very good products but did not know where to sell them. One made eco-friendly bags made from natural fibers like rattan and abaca, while another made compressed smokeless charcoal. I found my true purpose, which is to help them find their market. I became their marketing manager.”
Pastor Bienvenido contacted his former classmates at CMDC and bought some of their products, which he sold to outlets like supermarkets and department stores. In a few months, wholesalers and retailers came to him for more orders. He now also sells handicrafts like table ornaments, wallets, displays and other items. He also helps other aspiring entrepreneurs at the CCT, as a trainer and inspirational speaker. “I have learned in this life that if you let God be your guide, he will take care of the rest. You just have to do your best,” he shared.
From two employees in January 2011, Pastor Bienvenido now employs 12 workers. His monthly income rose by 80%, while his assets grew by 54%.
|MFI||Center for Community Transformation|
|Educational Attainment||College Graduate|
|Enterprise Name||Bensley Marketing|
|No. of Years in the Business||15|
|Products and Services||Livestock, Detergent and Loading Station|
|Monthly Gross Revenue||75,000|
|No. of employees||2|
Good Business needs Right Relationships
“Treat your suppliers and clients well, as if they are your siblings.”
Elma Gabriel, a 53-year old Buy and Sell entrepreneur, believes that creating good relationships leads to success in business. After borrowing money to use as starting capital from Tulay sa Pag-unlad Incorporated (TSPI), she already knew that she had to handle every business transaction correctly. She was the one communicating with the suppliers from different farms in Pangasinan while her husband Jessie delivered the supplies to their clients.
“We decided to start a Buy and Sell of onions because the profit that you get is big.” She remembers getting the idea from her kumares who already had their own Buy and Sell businesses and who deeply encouraged her to join the pack. True enough, she saw how largely profits grow from it. She buys 20,000 kilos of onions that costs P20/kilo and after selling them, she gains around P60,000. Although there were times when she needed to set very low selling prices, she still manages to earn her expected profit. “You just need to find good market,” she says. In the midst of business problems, Elma learned to be patient and humble. Whenever the transactions or deliveries are delayed, she immediately informs her clients and clearly explains the consequences of the delay. With that, misunderstandings are avoided and established relationships are sustained.
She learned about the training CMDC’s training program after she received a Maunlad award from TSPI. She then decided to join the training and was hoping to learn how to handle her business financial statements. “Accounting, that’s the one aspect in my business that I cannot handle well.” she says. More than the technical modules that she learned, there was a lesson that she can never forget. “Being open-handed to others– sharing not just my money but the knowledge that I gained from the trainings is one lesson that I treasure now.” She believes that rudeness and arrogance will not bring you to any heights.
Now owning one delivery truck and a storage facility for onions, Elma plans to obtain a loan fund from TSPI, as she has fully paid the money that she borrowed as starting capital. “I will use the money to buy another truck to help improve our delivery services,” she explains. Elma wishes to open another business, a rice store and hopes to transform their Buy and Sell Business into a family heritage in the years to come.
|MFI||Tulay sa Pag-unlad Inc.|
|Educational Attainment||High School Level|
|Enterprise Name||Gabriel’s Onion Magnet|
|No. of Years in the Business||9|
|Products and Services||Buy and sell of onions|
|Monthly Gross Revenue||35,000|
|No. of employees||50|
Her love for bag making out of pandan inspired her to start her own business. From the island of Visayas, Ester Lumbo started A&E Native Bags at Negros Occidental. Ester used to be a worker for a bag manufacturer which used pandan as material. When she realized that sales out of this business is promising, she thought of having her own shop as a good source of income. Hand-in-hand with her husband, Bartolome Lumbo, the couple started their humble business in 1996. Bartolome was the designer while Ester was the bag maker. They started by selling their bags and banig or mats on the streets. Eventually, they found a place in the dry market. They also began accepting pre-orders. The Lumbo family raised their family business as a team. Their collective effort, according to Ester, was one of the reasons why their business grew.
Like any other business, A&E Native Bags strove to be known in the industry. It wasn’t easy especially in getting customers. However, soon, her efforts paid off as she was awarded as the National Winner in the Masikap Category of the Citi Microentrepreneur of the Year Awards implemented by the Microfinance Council of the Philippines. As the winner, she had the privilege to undergo the CMDC training program of Bayan Academy. Since she was not able to finish her education, Ester felt nervous and intimidated with her co-trainees and facilitators. After overcoming her shyness, she admitted that the training program really helped her gain confidence and more knowledge in business management. The two major learnings she had from the training were on entrepreneurship and human resource management. She emphasized that she realized how important pakikisama is when it comes to her employees. “This could make or break any business,” she said. Ester also shared that she considers proper capital management as very important to a business to succeed. She emphasized that when capital is misused, the business would start to fail. Entrepreneurs should be wise in deciding where to spend their money for.
Ester had unforgettable memories back in the training days. One unexpected experience was when her cell phone rang for several times while in class. She was then in the middle of transacting with a client for her business. Her facilitator told her to stay focused on the seminar. Ester realized that focus is a very important thing not only in trainings or seminars but as well as in business. Ester gained new friends and connections during the program which she cherishes up to this moment.
Moreover, through the CMDC program, she had the courage to embark on a new business: bakery. Now, the Lumbo family is managing two businesses. Right now, Ester is still striving hard to reach for her dreams for her businesses especially for the benefit of her children. A&E Native Bags is already stable. Its primary market is at Cebu and Hawaii and she hopes that her local market and exports will increase as the years goes by. As for her bakery, she hopes for expansion and branching out the following year.
|MFI||Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation|
|Educational Attainment||Elementary Graduate|
|Enterprise Name||A and E Nature Product|
|No. of Years in the Business||7|
|Products and Services||Nature Bags made of pandan|
|Monthly Gross Revenue||–|
|No. of employees||10|
No Storms Can Bring Me Down
Mrs. Evelyn Gonzales led a troubled but colorful life. In 1981, at the young age of 17, she fell in love with and married a college classmate named Wilfredo Gonzales. The sudden and unplanned union got in the way of Evelyn’s education, and it wasn’t until 1988 that she graduated from Palawan State University with a degree in business administration. With her diploma, Evelyn was able to land decent jobs in the government and private sectors of Palawan. Combined with Wilfredo’s earnings from his own job, the two had enough money to support their growing family, which soon came to include two sons and three daughters (two of whom were twins). Working and raising five children at the same time was no easy task, but those early days were the happy ones for Evelyn. For a few years, the Gonzaleses were almost the picture of the ideal family, until Wilfredo suffered a serious illness in the mid-1990s. The affliction left him partially paralyzed and unable to continue employment. With the kids entering school and growing bigger every day, Evelyn was left with the responsibility of providing for the whole family. Faced with this pressing burden, she quit her regular job in 1996.
With money that the family had saved, she set up a video rental business in Palawan’s capital of Puerto Princesa City. The enterprise coincided with the proliferation of home entertainment systems such as VHS and VCD, and was patronized by many movie-lovers in the city. Success was short-lived, however, as the entry of a Video City franchise in the same area took most of her customers away. Four years later, Evelyn was forced to close shop.
After shutting down her previous business, she found another job to keep the family afloat. When her last son, Wally, was born in 2001, her hardships made her more determined to start another business. Looking at the business prospects in Palawan, she discovered that there were a number of public utility vans plying the route from Puerto Princesa to the northern Palawan towns of Roxas, San Vicente, and Taytay. For locals and tourists alike, these air-conditioned vans were a popular alternative to the cheaper but less comfortable buses. The problem was that the vehicles only departed when at least 8 out of 12 seats were occupied, but there was no actual terminal for passengers to wait in. With the development of tourism in the province and the promise of more visitors entering Palawan through its gateway capital, Evelyn saw the establishment of a terminal as the perfect opportunity. With P70,000 scrounged up from savings and helpful relatives, Evelyn secured the necessary permits and put up the FortWally terminal along one of Puerto’s major avenues. At that time, the terminal consisted only of a covered garage and a waiting shed. Through her persuasiveness, she convinced the van operators to utilize her terminal because it would help them service more passengers – travelers could book their rides in advance with Evelyn, and the shed made waiting more bearable. In return, FortWally received a small commission from each operator. Evelyn did not volunteer much information about FortWally’s early stages, but evidently, her second attempt at entrepreneurship was an astounding success. For one thing, she no longer had much trouble feeding the family and sending the kids to school. For another, when FortWally was forced to relocate to the central station in 2003 due to a city ordinance, the business had already built up enough capital for the move. It was a major hurdle, especially during the first year of operations, but it was easily cleared. Another indicator of success was in 2007, when Evelyn saw an increase in demand for vehicles travelling all the way to the scenic beach town of El Nido. In response, the proprietor established a second terminal in the municipality. She got five van operators to run trips from Puerto Princesa to El Nido and vice-versa.As of 2011, FortWally had 14 vans doing roundtrips on the Puerto-Roxas, Puerto-San Vicente, and Puerto-Taytay routes, in addition to the five vans from Puerto-El Nido. There was an average of 35 trips per day.
With the profits from this venture, Evelyn went on to put up a FortWally office and convenience store near the Puerto Princesa terminal. But the ever-gregarious entrepreneur did not stop there. In 2010, with tourist arrivals increasing from 113,831 in 2002 to 631,145 in 2011 (source: National Statistical Coordination Board), Evelyn sought to upgrade her services to the next level. With her pool of van operators and experience from dealing with all manner of travelers, she found it easy to set up a travel and tours business. By early 2011, FortWally Travel and Tours had obtained Department of Tourism (DOT) accreditation, established a partnership with an international online booking website www.via.com, and created its own website, www.fortwallytravelandtour.com. A plethora of packages were offered, such as tours around Puerto Princesa and the Sabang Underground River (officially one of the seven natural wonders of the world), island hopping and dolphin watching in Honda Bay, and a customizable island hopping experience in El Nido.
Evelyn’s next goal was to purchase a second van and eventually build up a fleet. Whether or not she would push through with this, she had already cemented FortWally’s position as one of the leading transportation providers for Palawan’s burgeoning tourism industry. In the process, she managed to single-handedly support her family with profits from the terminal, the restaurants, and the travel agency. It seemed that for every blow suffered to her career and her family, Evelyn was determined to come up with a winning business solution. Now that she had acquired much learning from the CMDC program, these plans would soon materialize and come to life.
|Educational Attainment||College Graduate|
|Enterprise Name||Fortwally Travel and Tours|
|No. of Years in the Business||4|
|Products and Services||Travel and Tours|
|Monthly Gross Revenue||380,000|
|No. of employees||6|
Being Your Own Boss Makes Sense
One of the CMDC graduates is is 38-year-old Fidel Seño of Baclaran, Parañaque, who has lived most of his life in a wet market.
“I started my own business in the markets of Baclaran after I got retrenched from my job as a machine operator in a plastics factory during the Asian crisis of 1997,” he shared. “I realized that being your own boss makes sense, so I started my own business using the very little money I received as separation pay.”
Fidel opened a meat shop, where he initially served as the butcher. Later on, as money came in, he got involved in other business activities. “I made profit from my businesses but I did not earn from them; money was always slipping out of my fingers even if I worked almost 24 hours a day.”
Fidel was recommended to take the training program offered at CMDC. He was at first skeptical as it will take him away from his business which meant losing profits, but was surprised that the days he spent attending the workshop proved to be life-changing. “I learned a lot from our trainers. I found out that managing your own business is not as easy as it seems. One needs to instill discipline in yourself and your employees and learn how to properly designate work to people,” he said.
Some of the changes he implemented affected his relatives whom he employed in the business. In particular, he applied lessons learned from CMDC’s training program on financial literacy. “I told them to value their work and their salary. I reprimanded them for not having the compassion to help the business prosper and for using their hard-earned salary to buy expensive gadgets or branded clothes that are mostly of decorative value.” Some of them did not take this lightly and quit, but most of his relatives heeded his advice. “I told them how important it is to budget expenses, from the house to the merchandise they are selling, even their salaries.” He extended this discipline to his wife and kids, and taught them how to save.
Today, Fidel still maintains his meat shop, but he also takes care of his wholesale grocery business and sub-dealership of meat products from a well-known company. “It is still not an easy road that I am treading, but at least I have the tools and the confidence to pursue the goals I want to reach, thanks to CMDC.
To date, Fidel has 14 employees. His enterprise’s assets have grown by 35% since he enrolled in the course.
|Educational Attainment||High School Graduate|
|Enterprise Name||Don Don/Janet Store|
|No. of Years in the Business||18|
|Products and Services||Groceries|
|Monthly Gross Revenue||120,000|
|No. of employees||12|
Bitter Sweet Success
Go a sweet tooth? Lenieflor can satisfy that. Sweet success, literally and figuratively, is what Lenieflor Ico has right now. Since 1990, she continues to make lovers and kids happy through her products, flower icings. According to Lenieflor, her business is an unexpected blessing from God. Lenieflor grew up exposed to farming and charcoal making. She thought that this kind of work is what she would have until she gets old. Since childhood, she and her husband, Danilo Ico, experienced the sweat-dripping work in the farm and in the mountains. They were employed as farmers of rice and vegetables and as charcoal makers. Lenieflor admitted that their work then was no joke.
“God really guided me to this,” she said. It was like God moved in her life and directed her to the flower icing business. Wanting to help her sister, Lenieflor assisted her sibling in latter’s bakery in La Union. There, Lenieflor learned how to make flower icings. Her two years exposure in the bakery gave her the foundation for her own business. Out of tiredness from their work in the field, the Ico couple took the risk of putting up their business with just Php 100 as starting capital. From then, Leny’s Food Product was born in Nueva Vizcaya. At first, they just hoped for this business to give them financial support in their day-to-day living. Luckily, it boomed and became their main source of income. With Leny’s Food Product incurring good sales, they decided to let go of farming and charcoal making.
Everything was going smoothly until year 2003 when Lenieflor’s mother died. This event did not only make Lenieflor suffer but her business as well. Lenieflor had a nervous breakdown for two years and she did not want to go out of their house. Her husband shifted to another work too when she ran out of motivation to continue the business. God then again moved in her life. In 2005, her husband was weakened by lung cancer. This woke up Lenieflor and made her revive all her strength and motivation to pursue the business to support Danilo. She again took the risk by bringing her products to Divisoria, hoping that she would have more customers. It was an answered prayer for her as Lenny’s Food Product went back on track.
Today, Lenieflor’s flower icing did not only reach Luzon but Visayas and Mindanao as well. For her, the training she had under the CMDC program was very helpful since she was not able to finish her high school education. Before, she was not even recording the cash-in and cash-out of her business. But now, she keeps a record of everything in the business. According to her, she will never forget her learnings she gained on marketing, finance, human resource management, product variety, and packaging. She explored on all possible designs of flowers for her customers so they would not get bored on icings. She also improved her packaging to preserve her sweet products longer. With that, her icings could now last for five to six months and even a year. She also recognized that good relationship with her workers and customers will bring success to her business. She was very dedicated to observing respect in dealing with them.
The life in the field made Lenieflor patient, hardworking, and persistent. These values were carried on in managing Leny’s Food Product. Aside from being grateful for having a growing business, Lenieflor is very glad to be able to provide employment to her townmates whowere in need. Seeing them also gaining success is what makes her more fulfilled. She also had a dream of providing more employment as she dreams of having a factory of flower icings. With this, she said, more people will have a job, thus more families will be supported.
For Lenieflor, hardships are there to challenge and mold people to be better and stronger. This lesson was what she wanted to impart to other aspiring entrepreneurs. “Do not give up and just trust in the Lord,” she said.
|MFI||Alalay sa Kaunlaran Inc. (MOTY)|
|Educational Attainment||Highschool Level|
|Enterprise Name||Leny’s Icing Flower Candies|
|No. of Years in the Business||23|
|Products and Services||Flowes Candies & Cakes|
|Monthly Gross Revenue||60,000|
|No. of employees||22|
Rainbow after calamity
Mrs. Virginia Pareja is an experienced business woman made strong by previous trials in her business. She has been a good client since she started with Bayan and always maintained her good repayment record. Unfortunately, on her 7th loan cycle, she pushed to offset her savings for her loan balance and withdrew her left savings due to unexpected calamity that happened in July of 2012. A huge tornado hit the resident’s house in Brgy. San Isidro, Narra, Palawan. The tornado tore partly half of their house and almost half of the piggery business of their family. To be able to cope with this disaster, Virginia needed to decide on unloading some of her obligations and diverting her remaining resources to help her family. She decided to continue her business in manufacturing condiments knowing that it would sustain them.
Virginia made up her mind to return to Bayan and availed a loan of Php100,000 in November 2012 to boost the sales of her manufacturing enterprise. The loan fortunately succeeded in making her market grow. Virginia undeniably made her business grow in terms of production output and income. She managed to avail a brand new Mitsubishi Adventure for her business and also for personal use.
Presently, the business of condiments is running smoothly in Puerto Princesa City. A lot of small restaurants and carenderias sprouting were in need of daily condiments with a lower price compared to the branded ones. Based on Virginia’s assessment, now is the time for her to pursue her vision of getting a bigger market by expanding her product lines. Fortunately, she gained help through the CMDC program.
Virginia now plans to expand her market through introducing new products. She now realized that the entire market for condiments just lies in front of her waiting to be filled in. Recently, Virginia introduced her all natural and organic vinegar from bananas. It was channeled through her business by the personnel of DTI-Palawan from a farm in the Municipality of Brooke’s Point. She considers the product as her very first natural product. Aside from the fish sauce, she wants to proceed to her next step of developing her banana catsup product.
|Educational Attainment||Collge Graduate|
|Enterprise Name||Familia Food Product|
|No. of Years in the Business||9|
|Products and Services||Manufacturing of Vinegar, Soysauce and other condiments|
|Monthly Gross Revenue||180,000|
|No. of employees||3|
Pay it forward
Ricky used to be an errand boy in a hardware store. But with his perseverance, he was able to finish a vocational course on electronics. Ricky had initial plans of going abroad armed with his diploma. However, his kind-hearted boss instead offered him to have a business. His boss supported his business financially until it was fully set up. Romeo then named his venture, the 3R Store.
The 3R Store expanded to several service offerings, to include: hardware, groceries, internet and rentals. He also ventured into tricycle operations. The business has existed for 16 year already, except for the internet shop which has been running for one year now.
Romeo experienced difficulties in monitoring his sales. Also, his business was not growing. Romeo joined Uplift Philippines, a microfinance institution. It was through Uplift that Romeo was chosen to join the CMDC program. Prior to the program, he had no plans and no direction for his business. He just moves where the wind blows him. Through the CMDC program, he learned so much about investments and savings. “The training was able to open my mind,” shared Ricky. He now knew how to monitor his sales, stocks and inventory. Through the training, he was able to expand to more income-generating ventures.
In 2014, Romeo plans on investing in van rental. He is also interested to join more of the business mentoring sessions of the CMDC program for additional knowledge in further enhancing his enterprise.
Romeo’s hard work and dedication caught the attention of his boss and this became his stepping stone in creating more wealth for his family and for other people.
Uplift Philippines, Inc.
Ricky Computer Rental
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Monthly Gross Revenue
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