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Small Steps to Success

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Celebrating ten years of Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards. Ten microentrepreneurs. Ten success stories. Ten inspirations.

Celebrating ten years of Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards. Ten microentrepreneurs. Ten success stories. Ten inspirations.

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    Small Steps to Success Small Steps to Success Document Transcript

    • Success small steps toCelebrating 10 Years of Partnership with Microentrepreneurs 1
    • 2
    • Success small steps toCelebrating 10 years of partnership with microentrepreneurs
    • 5 Contents Messages from the Citi Microentrepreneur of the Year Awards Partners9 The Great Promise in Small Beginnings12 Ten Years of the Citi Microentrepreneur of the Year Awards14 Jennilyn Antonio: A Spread of Good Fortune16 Corazon Bautista: Sewing Dreams18 Dionesia dela Peña: A Twist of Good Taste20 Orlando Dulay: Dreaming Atop a Stack of Shells22 Nolie Estocado: A Christmas-y Story24 Carina Gonato: A Recipe Nicely Wrapped-Up26 Felicidad Kalalo: The Unsinkable Nanay Fely28 Ester Lumbo: Weaving Her Way Back30 Consuelo Valenzuela: Turning Leaves into Gold32 Cherry Yack, Sr.: A Man Named Cherry34 A Hand Up Over a Hand Out: Insights from the CMA National Selection Committee37 Citi Microentrepreneur of the Year Awards Alumni
    • message from bSP The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas joins in celebrating ten successful years of running the Citi Microentrepreneur of the Year Awards (CMA) Program! The effective partnership between Citi, the Microfinance Council of the Philippines Inc., and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has allowed us to provide a fitting venue to highlight the exceptional stories of our country’s industrious and resilient microentrepreneurs. This book will give a sneak peek into the ten years of CMA. Each client’s story is an inspiring account of how microfinance has unlocked opportunities and improved lives. Each business is a symbol of the creativity and ingenuity of the Filipino entrepreneurial poor. Each journey is one of resilience and hard work, proving that no obstacle is insurmountable. CMA has allowed us to take this journey and realize the enormous potential of microfinance to uplift lives, communities, and local economies. CMA has given us a unique vantage point to see the developments that have taken place in the microfinance industry in the Philippines. Ten years ago, microfinance was limited to microcredit provided by leading nongovernmental organizations, cooperatives, and a handful of banks.amando tetangco, jr. Today, microfinance players, the range of productsGovernor and services, as well as the delivery channels,Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas have significantly increased and diversified. These developments have nurtured a competitive environment which, coupled with the Bangko Sentral’s enabling policies and regulations, have ensured microfinance clients more access to better designed and appropriately priced products. We have all come a long way, yet there is definitely more that needs to be done. Rest assured that the Bangko Sentral remains committed to the development of microfinance and in building a truly inclusive financial system where everyone has access to financial services. 5
    • We are delighted to be celebrating a decade of the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards (CMA) Program in the Philippines.  The idea for the CMA was born ten years ago as Citi was marking a special milestone of 100 years in six Asian countries including the Philippines. It was developed through a public-private collaboration among leading institutions – Citi with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Microfinance Council of the Philippines Inc. (MCPI) –in an effort to raise awareness for microfinance and recognize inspiring individuals who, with access to microcredit, have been able to start or grow their microenterprise and raise their standard of living. What began as a local country initiative has evolved into a global program driven and funded by the Citi Foundation. Today, the CMA recognizes outstanding microentrepreneurs in 32 countries around the world.   We wish to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank all our partners for a decade of support in the Philippines, from our partners the BSP and the MCPI, to the microfinance practitioners, as well as the numerous volunteers and Citi colleagues who contributed to the success and growth of this program.  With your support, more than 80 outstanding Filipino microentrepreneursPamela FlahertyPresident & CEO, Citi FoundationDirector, Corporate Citizenship, Citi6
    • message from citihave been rewarded through the CMA program. The factthat many of these winners have grown their businessesand are now managing small scale enterprises thatprovide employment to hundreds of people is testamentthat we are adding real measurable value to localcommunities in the Philippines. Microfinance and microenterprises play an importantrole in the development of any economy and society. Weare deeply committed to the CMA program, which hasenabled us to raise awareness of this field and increasethe number of microenterprises that generate newincome and employment opportunities for low incomeindividuals. This is why we have invested philanthropicallyin microfinance and enterprise development for 30years and why we see the Philippines as a key market inCiti and the Citi Foundation’s financial inclusion effortsacross the world.  In this book, we selected 10 microentrepreneursawarded over the history of the Philippines’ CMAprogram. Their compelling stories lend a face to ourphilanthropic investment in the field of microfinanceand microenterprise development.  From their humblebeginnings, these men and women are now shaping thefuture of their communities. We thank you for taking thisjourney with us over the last 10 years. Sanjiv Vohra Citi Country Officer for the Philippines 7
    • message from mCPI It has been ten years since Citi Philippines, in partnership with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc. (MCPI) first launched its annual awards for the outstanding microentrepreneurs in the country. As we extend our warm felicitations for Citi’s success, we are grateful for the opportunity to serve as one of the program implementors. It is a source of great pride to us to be part of this initiative. The Citi Microentrepreneur of the Year Awards (CMA) Program is a celebration of economic triumph amidst great odds at the grassroots level. Through the various nominations submitted every year, we have witnessed the vibrancy and vigour of what was once an underserved sector. We have seen the transformation of these microentrepreneurs—from budding handicraft-makers to producers of world-class quality products. They have become responsible employers and role models of good citizenship—local economic heroes in their own right. We are privileged to have known them and honored to have assisted them, one way or another. They have shown that self-belief, vision, passion, love for work—and some catalytic support from microfinance institutions can lead to successful micro business undertakings. Mila Mercado-Bunker Chairperson By honoring microentrepreneurs who have demonstrated Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc. exemplary performance in the pursuit of their livelihood and crafts, CMA acknowledges their awe-inspiring stories and their economic contributions, not only to their own families but to the local communities as well. To the country’s ingenious and hardworking microentrepreneurs, you are the real wealth of our nation and we salute you!8
    • The Great Promise inSmall BeginningsPrivate corporations and non-profit organizations, together with partners in the publicsector, have defied the odds and empowered emerging entrepreneurial Filipinos throughall kinds of initiatives, including an awards program that recognizes and rewards the mostoutstanding microbusinesses in the country.Until the 1980s, microfinance for Filipinos meant Government’s rolemoney lenders who would extend unsecured loans Government agencies tried to fill the gap withbut usually charged interest rates as high as 20 various credit programs targeting specificpercent of the principal, earning these creditors the marginalized groups. Some programs providedmoniker “5-6”. outright cash or extended credit in kind like Making the rounds of owners of small businesses— agricultural inputs.ambulant vendors, sari-sari store owners, artisans, Government agencies would allocate specificfarmers, and the like, they personally handed out the amounts from their annual appropriations for thesecash and collected payments often on a daily basis. credit schemes. But because the money was drawn The rates might have seemed usurious to those from government resources, the assistance waswho had access to formal financial institutions, often viewed as a dole-out rather than a loan, andbut these loans were a lifeline for emerging recipients did not feel obligated to repay the loan.entrepreneurs. It was one of the few sources of credit With very low repayment success, fundsthey could easily and quickly access to keep their available for such schemes steadily dropped,ventures afloat. and instead of becoming self-sustaining as Despite the existence in the Philippines of a large envisioned, the programs eventually died afterinformal sector engaged in microentrepreneurship, running out of money.small businesses found it difficult to access loans After the microcredit movement initiated byfrom formal and financial institutions. With no assets university professor Muhammad Yunus madeto guarantee their loans, struggling ventures were such a positive impact in Bangladesh, many otherconsidered very high risk debtors. developing countries, including the Philippines, Microentrepreneurs, many of them knowing only looked into its viability and replicability.enough to do simple math, were intimidated justby the idea of stepping inside fancy bank buildings Pioneering NGOsand being asked questions they would not know A group of pioneering non-governmenthow to answer. organizations (NGOs) in the Philippines began They preferred to get the financing they needed, studying the Grameen Bank model’s innovativedespite the exorbitant interest rates, from the 5-6 approach to providing collateral-free loans to lowcreditor whose requirements were simple and almost income groups, especially women.  Among thesenon-existent. They also resorted to pawning their few NGO’s were some of the original members of thevaluables to get the capital they needed to start up Microfinance Council of the Philippines (MCPI), theor sustain their modest livelihood. APPEND Network, and the Philippine Network for 9
    • “Microentrepreneurs are the Citi advocacy As a bank, Citi has dealt mainly with big corporations and new hope of this generation enterprises. But realizing the value of microfinance as a tool for poverty alleviation, it found an opportunity to join the advocacy by helping promote its growth. In 2002, to and the force that will take mark its 100th year of doing business in the Philippines, it partnered with the BSP and MCPI in a project that would this nation to new heights.” recognize a successful microentrepreneur as a model and inspiration for others.  - Sanjiv Vohra, Citi Country Officer for the Philippines Funded by Citi Foundation, the Citi Microentrepreneur of the Year Awards (CMA) was intended to be a Helping the Hardcore Poor (PHILNET). one-time celebratory event. It turned out to be a huge Government agencies and private organizations success, and because of the tremendous boost it gave brainstormed and a real, formal Philippine to microentrepreneurship in the country, it became an microfinance sector started to take shape in 1993 annual recognition of economic heroism in 2004. when the Department of Finance launched the The awards program has raised awareness of micro- National Credit Council as a forum for policy finance by providing incentives to microentrepreneurs discussions on the development of financial to enhance technology, improve production, and services for the low income group. The Council accelerate income-generating activities. Through the led the development of the National Strategy successes of CMA awardees, many other microentre- for Microfinance in 1997 to foster an enabling preneurs have been inspired to raise their own goals environment that would encourage participation of for their modest endeavors. the private sector in the provision of financial services The CMA awarded microentrepreneurs with start- to the poor. Given previous experience, it also asked ups that have become reliable sources of income for the non-participation of government agencies in for the family, and those whose businesses have the implementation of such financial services. generated employment as well for people not within Consistent with the National Strategy, the General the family and household. Banking Law of 2000 included provisions that The program recognizes one national winner and mandated the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) three regional awardees, one each for island groups to recognize microfinance as a legitimate banking Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Special awardees activity and set the rules and regulations for its were also given to microentrepreneurs engaged in practice within the banking sector. In the same agriculture, green or sustainable enterprises, and year, the BSP declared microfinance as its flagship businesses operating in hard-to-reach areas. program for poverty alleviation and focused on creating the enabling policy environment for private Success story and sustainable microfinance operations to flourish. For Citi’s Philippine office, the CMA has become its own With the government out of the picture, private success story because the program has been adopted financial institutions, the pioneering microfinance in 32 Citi markets globally. Citi has been supporting the NGOs, cooperatives, and banks, began to expand microfinance sector philanthropically for more than 30 their financial services to marginalized groups. years, having worked with MFIs in 100 countries. Through They extended not just loans, but also conducted Citi’s efforts, it has helped the microfinance industry business development training and programs on achieve scale and sustainability. how to build assets to ensure assisted initiatives Governor Amando Tetangco of the BSP acknowledged flourished and survived. the program as a “success story by itself, spawned10
    • and sustained by a vibrant and dynamic Philippinemicrofinance sector.” “We have proven that small Citi Country Officer for the Philippines Sanjiv Vohradeclared microentrepreneurs as “the new hope of this clients become good clients...generation and the force that will take this nation tonew heights.” given suitable products and The over 80 outstanding Filipino microentrepreneursthat CMA has honoured over the years attest to a thrivingmicrofinance sector in the Philippines. Other figures tell services.” - Governor Amando Tetangco, Jr.,a more compelling story. From only a handful of MFIs Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinascatering to a few thousand clients in the early 90’s, there areseveral thousands of MFIs now serving millions of clients. the success stories of poor Filipinos who, through According to Mr. Vohra, since its launch in 2002, microfinance, are able to rise above poverty, relying onthe CMA has covered the microfinance efforts of hard work, perseverance, and innovation to make theapproximately 200 banks, 14,000 cooperatives and most of the little capital they get.25 microfinance NGOs in providing services to over 5 But there is much that remains to be done and themillion active borrowers. annual CMA will continue to focus on those who have the For Governor Tetangco, the figures were indicative greatest of needs and offer them guidance and hope soof at least two things: “First, that indeed microfinance they may move beyond poverty and enjoy a better life.can be effectively implemented within a formal and For those who have made it to the CMA roster, theyproportionately regulated environment; and second, are assured of continued help to sustain their modestthat sustainability and profitability can be appropriately ventures with the creation of an alumni network, whichbalanced with social responsibility. In other words, we is envisioned to be a support group by and for formerhave proven that small clients become good clients ... winners. Continuing education at the Citi Microenterprisegiven suitable products and services.” Development Center will also nurture their growth For four years in a row, the Economist Intelligence through the entrepreneurship training offered by BayanUnit Survey on Microfinance Business Environment has Academy for Social Entrepreneurship and Humannamed the Philippines as number one in the world, out Resource Development.of 54 countries, in terms of policy research and regulatory Citi remains steadfast in its support of the CMA as itenvironment for microfinance. The country also ranks considers its investment in this program one of the waysconsistently within the top ten for overall business it can contribute to the development of the Philippineenvironment. economy. This impressive accomplishment is further bolstered This book, which is being launched in Citi’s 200thby the partnership of BSP, Citi, and MCPI in highlighting year globally, is a summary of 10 inspiring stories ofthe gains of microfinance through the CMA, considered heroism and hope from a decade of the CMA program.a high profile event by all stakeholders in the country. The From starting with almost nothing, the individuals whoannual awards have shown policy makers, leaders in are featured here have generated steady income formicrofinance, private sector, and microentrepreneurs their families and their employees with their own smallthat, by working together and remaining committed to businesses that produce holiday decor, handicrafts,their cause, microfinance can help the poor uplift their ready-to-wear clothes, as well as food as varied as chickenlives and communities. spring rolls, coconut pies, peanut butter, and sweet rice treats. The small steps taken by the microentrepreneursContinuing effort honored by the CMA over the years have led to miraclesA decade later, the CMA continues to highlight that can no longer be ignored in Philippine society. g 11
    • 2002 JJCMA is launched in celebration of Citi’s centennial year in the Philippines. 2010 JJPartnership with Bayan Academy for winners to receive entrepreneurship training begins. CMA also gives out special awards for enterprises engaged in agriculture, green or sustainable enterprises, and for enterprises based in hard to reach or conflict areas. 2011 JJCMA supplements cash prizes for winners with a three-year microinsurance coverage as well as access to customized advice and mentoring at the Citi Microenterprise Development Center.12
    • Ten years of citi microentrepreneur of the year awards 2004 2005 JJThe success of the JJThe United Nations Philippine program Development Program leads to the adoption participates in CMA of CMA in India. Today, as a co-organizer in CMA is implemented in celebration of the 32 countries by the Citi International Year of Foundation. Microcredit.2008JJFinancial literacy training for winners is introduced to assist them in managing both their businesses and personal finances. CMA extends a special award for a model Overseas Foreign Worker (OFW) 2006 JJThe quality of entrepreneur. nominations received this year prompts CMA to introduce special awards to recognize innovation and creativity of microentrepreneurs in recycling waste materials. 2012 JJCMA marks its first decade as Citi celebrates 200 years of driving progress for its clients across the globe. 13
    • J ennilyn Antonio of Golden City in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, tends to talk about her product before she even introduces herself. The product is creamy peanut butter and its brand is Ehje, her nickname. Ehje started her business on a hunch. She was working at Panasonic and her husband Boyong was driving for a car company executive. But even with two incomes, they had a hard time coping with the needs of their growing family. To earn extra money, Ehje sold packed lunches and processed food like tocino (ham) and longganisa (sausage) to her co-workers. One day while shopping, she saw a pack of ground peanuts, an essential ingredient of the Filipino dish kare-kare or oxtail stew. She noticed the peanuts were quite oily. What if I added some sugar to this, she thought. Would it turn into paste, would it be like peanut butter? She bought one kilo of ground peanuts for P48. After adding some sugar and salt, she mixed the ingredients together. And just like that, she had made peanut butter! Along with the packed lunches and the processed food, Ehje began selling her homemade peanut butter. When the firstA Spread of batch sold out, she bought more peanuts, made more peanut butter and supplied the neighborhoodGood Fortune bakeries too. The product was an instant hit. The growing orders, however, caused Ehje to worry about whetherA series of coincidences helped, but her cleverness she was making peanut butterand spunk gave her business the boost the right way. “I was afraid that someone might get poisoned,” she recalls. “Something like that would only add to our debts and problems.” Fortunately, Ehje learned of a seminar on making peanut butter14
    • Jennilyn Antonio What Ehje has learned • Problems are there to make us think. Learn from them. • Trials are part of life. Also learn from them. • Always do what is pleasing to the Lord, who gives you strength and guides you on the right path. • If you borrow money, do everything you can to pay it back. • Never forget the people who helped you succeed, especially those who trusted you with their money.at the Food Development Center. flying colors! She then got her firstShe was assured that what she was big order worth P49,000 from the bigdoing was right when she attended bakery chain. In just two days, thethe seminar. supply was sold out. One day, her husband told her With the growing demand forthat aside from registering their her product, Ehje went to the Ruralbusiness name, they would need Bank of Mabitac Inc. (RBMI) for aa permit from the Bureau of Food loan of P30,000, which she usedand Drugs (BFAD), as well as a to buy a peanut grinder to speedcertification on the quality and safety up and increase her peanut butterof their product. production. It was while Not only didmaking inquiries RBMI grant herat BFAD that Because of CMA, Ehje met the loan, it alsoBoyong met a top business executives encouraged herrepresentative of who have welcomed her to enter a contestthe big bakery sponsored by a big Because of the CMA, Ehje metchain Ehje had products into the largest bank. Ehje knew top business executives who havebeen eyeing to chain of supermarkets and nothing about the welcomed her products into thesupply. He came hypermarkets, as well as into contest, but she largest chain of supermarkets andhome that day joined anyway, not hypermarts, as well as into a well-bragging that he a well-known European-style expecting to win. known European-style bakery chain.could get a deal bakery chain. Soon after, Ehje End of story? Not quite.with the chain received the good One day, Boyong made a mistakeprovided they news that she had in setting the grinder. What camehad their product tested. They also won the 2006 Citi Microentrepreneur out were bits of nuts coarser thanneeded to fix up their place, turn it of the Year Award (CMA). Her prize the fine grounds used for Ehje’sinto a real factory and keep it clean. check for P150,000 was exactly Creamy Peanut Butter. Did they let Determined to succeed, Ehje what she needed to complete their the nuts go to waste? Not a chance.had her product tested. Her peanut production area so they could get Thus was born Ehje’s Crunchybutter passed the BFAD test with the government’s certification. Peanut Butter, another bestseller. g 15
    • A t first, Corazon Bautista thought she was in the wrong place when she joined a group of mothers who were wearing white and singing hymns of praise and worship. She recalls hesitating to accept the invitation to this meeting that turned out to be a prayer group who coincidentally were also discussing microloans. But Corazon decided to give it a try after one of the mothers told her it was a center meeting of the Tulay sa Pag-unlad, Inc. (TSPI), a microfinance institution that gives its members business opportunities through small loans while teaching them to live spiritually fulfilled lives. Having been a seamstress since she was a teenager and a garment factory laborer for several years, Corazon had always dreamed of running her own business and lifting her family out of poverty. The only problem was she did not have the capital. By joining TSPI, Corazon was immediately able to borrow a start-up capital of P5,000, which she used to purchase fabric and produce 100 shorts that she brought to the Pasig market.Sewing Dreams At P50 a pair, Corazon was unsure if the shorts would sell, but she kept her hopes up. Her first customer scrutinized the shorts, from theIt’s a “shorts” story that can teach some  stitching to the style. “He liked my product and asked how many shortsvaluable lessons about, for one, I had in stock,” says Corazon. “I wastrusting women in white  surprised when he said he’d buy them all.” This customer, whom she came to know as “Luis,” turned out to be a retailer at a major Manila mall. To this day, she continues to supply him with garments. When she started her business, Corazon was the sole cutter, designer, and seamstress of her ready-to-wear line. Through determination and hard work, today she is able to employ 28 workers and supply garments to 15 malls in Metro Manila. She still16
    • Corazon Bautista Corazon’s Take on Business Disciplinedesigns the • Have a budget for your daily needs.clothes herself.Having expanded • Use any business loan solely for the business.her RTW line, • Do not mix personal andCorazon is business funds in ordernow one of to keep track of how theTaytay’s leading business is growing.corporate wear • Give opportunities to others.manufacturers, • Maintain a good relationshipwith annual sales with your workers.of about Php 4million. Her successand growth asan entrepreneurcaught the eye ofloan officers at TSPI who endorsed the money, she decided to give ither as a candidate for the 2011 Citi back to the community. “We dividedMicroentrepreneur of the Year Awards the money among two churches, our(CMA). As it turned out, the TSPI folks relatives and employees, and thewere right on the money. Corazon member-mothers in TSPI.”bested more than 140 nominees and Corazon’s experiences as atook the national award home. seamstress in garment factories Winning the CMA immediately have taught her to treat her workershelped her business. “I became more well and with respect. “It is fulfillingpopular and more customers came to to dream not only for yourself butus,” she says. also for others,” she says. “I have She reinvested the P200,000 an employee from Binangonan who apartment on the lot they recentlycash prize into thanks me because bought, and to be able to compete inthe business by since she started the global market.constructing a working for me, At 42, she continues to thinksecond floor As part of her reward, she has been able about how she can improve herselfto expand her Corazon also received to send her kids and her business. “I’m planning toproduction area, to school. It is very study Fashion Design next schoolallowing her training on entrepreneurship heartwarming.” year,” says Corazon, who was unableto produce an at the Citi Microentreprise Corazon also to obtain her Accountancy degreeaverage of 1,000 Development Center in holds weekly the first time around that she was inshorts a day. personal talks college in Legazpi, Albay.As part of her Quezon City that taught her with her workers She hopes that a new degreereward, Corazon to manage her business more about where they in fashion design will allow her toalso received effectively. need to improve. produce clothes of export qualitytraining on “We try to solve and expand her production to placesentrepreneurship problems before outside of Metro Manila.at the Citi they get worse.” It does not worry Corazon that sheMicroenterprise Development Center If given a chance to turn back time will be away from her RTW businessin Quezon City that taught her to and do things over, she says she when she goes back to school sincemanage her business more effectively. would not change a thing. These days she has learned to empower others “TSPI also gave me P100,000,” she hopes for only three things—for and pass on the secrets of the tradesays Corazon. Instead of pocketing her two sons to graduate, to build an to her family and employees. g 17
    • A Twist of D ionesia “Nene” dela Peña was selling snacks every day by the gate of Stella Good Taste Maris College in Ozamis City until she was told one day in 1998, that she could no longer do so. The news came as a big blow because Nene She tweaked a recipe to make it  needed the extra income to help provide for her family’s needs. her own and  borrowed money to launch a  Left with no choice, she bit the bullet and took a loan from a money product that others have copied but  lender so she could start again never equaled and buy ingredients for snacks that she could cook and sell at another location. But with fewer patrons than what she used to have at the school and the 20 percent interest she had to pay the lender, there did not seem to be a way out of her plight. In 2002, Nene learned about the Paglaum Multi-Purpose Cooperative (PMPC) and the financial assistance it gives start-ups. After attending a seven-day training seminar and signing up as a member, she tried her luck and was able to borrow P3,000, at a low interest of 2.5 percent. She used her initial loan to buy pots and pans for cooking food to sell. After six months, she was able to return her borrowed capital. To this day, she feels she owes her good fortune to the PMPC for having trusted her with the money that she used as capital. The moment Nene thought of borrowing from PMPC, she had in mind to include suman—sweet glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves—on her menu. She had learned how to make the delicacy from a good friend. “I’d watch her and she’d teach me how much of each ingredient to use,” she says. But Nene did not just copy her friend’s recipe. If there was one thing she knew how to do to make some money, it was cooking. So, she proceeded to tweak the recipe by adding tinambiran, which is black glutinous rice cooked with concentrated brown sugar.18
    • Dionesia dela Peña Simple advice from Dionesia While the • Be nice in your dealings withordinary suman everyone.is made of • Help the jobless by hiringwhite glutinous them.rice mixed with • Do not skimp on ingredients.coconut milk, • Never mess with the taste thatbrown sugar your customers like.and salt, Nene’ssuman comes witha black strip ofrice twisted intothe white strip. The wholeprocess ofpreparing,cooking and Today, daily orders can go as highwrapping the suman took at least as 1,000.three hours. Clearly, Nene needed Nene recalls she once receivedhelp. She commissioned her husband a single order for 15,000 piecesSimplecio and their children—Nellie, of suman tinambiran that sheNelsie, and John Paul to do kitchen was unable to accept for lack ofduty to make sure the sweet rice treat manpower. If the same order cameturned out perfect. in today, she would be sure to fill Her suman tinambiran is so it because now so many people,good, says Nene with pride, that including family and friends, are onwhoever tastes it is her payroll.guaranteed to ask In 2009,for more. Dionesia dela She never gave There is something Peña won the Citiher product aformal name. Soon special about the way Microentrepreneur of the Year Award.however, everyone Nene cooks, cuts, wraps, The recognition they have an agent who markets thewas calling it product at the airport in Manila.suman tinambiran and packages her suman gave her business a big boost. There are people who haveand the name tinambiran that makes The family used tried to imitate her sumansimply stuck. As the P100,000 tinambiran and pass off theirmore people it a class all its own. prize to buy products as the original. Butlearned about more equipment Nene does not feel threatened.and enjoyed it, and vehicles to She knows her customers can tellsuman tinambiran use for deliveries. They also had right away if what they are gettingcrossed boundaries and became their house renovated. “We were is the authentic Nene’s Sumana favorite as well outside Nene’s also able to help some of our Tinambiran.hometown of Oroquieta. neighbors,” says Dionesia. There is something special In the beginning, Nene was selling Nene’s suman now gets orders about the way Nene cooks, cuts,only 100 pieces a day. Another of not only from Oroquieta and Ozamis wraps, and packages her sumanher close friends started helping to cities but also from other towns in tinambiran that makes it a class allmarket the product and soon they Misamis Occidental. In addition to its own, but its delicious taste is stillwere selling 300 pieces a day. having a branch at the town terminal, its ultimate come-on. g 19
    • O rlando and Elizabeth Dulay are the couple behind the most delectable buko (young coconut) pies in Nueva Vizcaya. Their enterprise is named G & B Buko Products, after their nicknames Gabby and Beth. The Dulays started selling fresh buko juice to motorists and passersby from a stall under the shade of a Talisay tree along the highway in Barangay Tuao North. Gabby would cut open the coconuts and Beth would serve them. It was 1992 and they made an average of P100 a day from selling coconuts at P5 each. Before that, Gabby had tried looking for a job in Metro Manila. “Because of my disability I couldn’t get a job,” says Gabby, who contracted polio in childhood. When the Department of Agriculture’s local office hosted a basic training seminar in buko pie- making in 1995, Gabby grabbed the opportunity and signed up. The training gave him new skills. More than that, it gave him a business idea. Starting with P5,000 in capital, the Dulays ventured into making buko pies. It wasn’t easy to introduce the product among the locals but Gabby wasn’t easily deterred either. Dreaming Atop a He kept trying to learn more about the trade and about how to improve the quality of his product. He joined Stack of Shells trade fairs to expand his contacts and to keep track of what his competitors were doing. At one mall fair, Gabby was From pie-making to fine-dining, there is no featured on television for his inspiring stopping this couple story of perseverance. The exposure did wonders for G & B Buko Products. With more orders for buko pie coming in, Gabby decided to take a business leap. He borrowed P20,000 from the FICOBank in Nueva Vizcaya to buy an oven and other equipment to boost production. The bank became20
    • Orlando Dulay Tips to Beginners from Gabby • Learn as much as you can about the business you are getting into. • Find out where to source your raw materials. • Make sure you always have enough basic supplies. • Know your target market. • Study your product’s marketability. • Respect your workers’ rights.a long-term partner of the Dulays, Dulays had won the lottery but theloaning them as much as P1.5 million truth was that they simply knewat one time. where to source money for capital Today, G & B has four branches and how to use it for its intendedin three towns of purpose. They also adopted goodNueva Vizcaya, all business practicesstrategically located like living onalong main highways. From less than a a budget andFrom less than a prioritizing only the course at a prestigious schoolhundred boxes of hundred boxes of necessary expenses. while the restaurant was beingbuko pies a day, it buko pies a day, G & B currently constructed.now turns out 3,000 has 110 employees, For the ability to grow his businessboxes a day. G & B now turns most of whom into a sustainable enterprise and The Dulays out 3,000 boxes have been with the to create employment for hishave expanded a day. couple from the community, Orlando was given thetheir enterprise to beginning. “As the 2004 Citi Microentrepreneur of theinclude a fast food business grows, Year Award.restaurant and a your workers should Except for the more comfortablewater refilling station. feel they are thriving along with it,” and prosperous life they now live, As time went by, the couple began Gabby says. nothing much has changed aboutto hear talk about where they were Today, the Dulays are looking Gabby and Beth. The first and maingetting the money to grow their forward to their next business outlet of G & B still stands along themicrobusiness. “We were rumored to venture – a fine-dining restaurant. same highway, under the same treehave won the lottery,” says Gabby. Not one to take a new challenge where the couple started their dream It might have looked like the lightly, Gabby took a culinary arts on a stack of coconut shells. g 21
    • C hristmas is always a time for celebration, a season of cheer and delight. But it did not feel like a holiday for Nolie Estocado and her family during the years they were barely making ends meet and could not afford a decent noche buena or Christmas Eve dinner. Even as a child, Nolie did not get nice things during Christmas. Her mother was a laundry woman and her father was a farmer. When Nolie was growing up, there was barely enough for her family’s day to day needs. In fact, Nolie and her husband, Raymond were not able to finish their high school studies and were forced to work. Nolie and Rogelio ended up working for a handicraft company, putting in long hours making Christmas decor and ornaments out of capiz shells. They got paid P10 per piece. No matter how hard they worked, no matter how many angels, Santas, and other tinsels they produced, they couldn’t seem to turn their life around. In 1983, Nolie told Rogelio she wanted to put up her own business making Christmas decor out of tin and wire. Rogelio was supportive but, just to be sure, he held on to his job for another year before joining her. With their savings of P2,000, they put up Nolie Estocado’s Handicrafts. “We were scared,” says Nolie. “We were risking all the money we had.”A Christmas-y Story On top of their anxiety over venturing on their own, they did not get support from family and friends. Instead of good will and glad tidings, they got ridiculedThanks to her ornaments, the holidays are merry for even dreaming of starting their own business. Many people warned thatand bright for lots of families, including hers they would not succeed. The couple’s former employer, of course, was the least happy about the competition. But it has always been Nolie’s virtue to face up to a challenge. All the negative comments from other people just made her stronger and more determined.22
    • Nolie Estocado What Nolie Knows Now • Devote a lot of time to your business and do not leave it to She started as a others.subcontractor for • Find out as much as you canan exporter. The about a new client beforebusiness side – accepting a big order from himlooking for potential or her.buyers, dealing with • Talk to your creditors when youthem, delivering on are having problems makingschedule, getting payments.payment – became • Treat your workers fairly and honestly. • Nolie’s area of Believe in yourself and doresponsibility. Rogelio, not allow others to rule yourbecause he was destiny.the creative one,took care of makingsamples from thedesigns given them a microfinance institution where sheto copy. was a member. Soon after, she got an A week after Nolie delivered the first order for Christmas décor from a neworder, she felt the wonderful sensation exporter-client that had closed a dealof being paid promptly and in full. in Manila.More purchase orders (POs) then came, To meet the increase in production,one after another. The couple worked Nolie borrowed again from CARDvery hard and hired their relatives and Bank. “One time our loan was as bigneighbors to work for them. as P250,000 but we were able to pay it One time, Nolie received a PO back within a year,” she says with pride.amounting to a whopping P3 million. She considers herself lucky to haveHow lucky, she thought. But that feeling CARD Bank as a business partner.soon soured when her exporter-client The bank has helped her market would hire 60 to 100 workers fromfailed to pay her after she had delivered her products at Christmas bazaars as far as Bicol and the Visayas just tothe bulk of the order. and given her meet orders. She gave the workers free The rest of the training to housing and, at times, even food.order was cancelled It has always been better manage “Sometimes I advise our workers toand she was left the business. save money because there won’t bewith plenty of raw Nolie’s virtue to face Nolie even work all the time,” says Nolie. “If youmaterials just lying up to a challenge. All got to travel treat them like family they’d do thearound. With her to Thailand to same to you.”capital and income the negative comments attend a training To this day, she continues to be hard-gone, Nolie felt from people made her seminar. “I working, patient, and determined aslike the world had was so excited the day she first started her business.crumbled around her. stronger and more because it was “That is what you do if you love your Even though she determined. my first airplane business,” she says.had hit rock bottom, ride,” she Nolie and her family have theirNolie says, she recalls. own house and lot now. She alsonever lost faith in the Of the many owns a five-door apartment that sheAlmighty. “I told myself that we survived blessings that have come her way, is counting on to give her and herwhen we were just starting so we could Nolie says she will forever cherish husband income when they retire.always start again,” she says. the 2006 Citi Microentrepreneur of Best of all, she and her loved ones To be able to do that, Nolie took the Year Award. are able to look forward to Christmasout a loan of P4,000 from CARD Bank, As more orders came in, Nolie with excitement and joy. g 23
    • C arina Gonato is very busy these days. She is juggling running a business and supervising the building of what will soon be the permanent home of Nateck’s Chicken Lumpia. The concrete building will have three floors and will be towering above the houses in the neighborhood. The first floor will be the store where customers can buy boxes of chicken lumpia or spring rolls. The second floor will house the production area where her 60 workers will make the most delicious chicken lumpia in Cebu. And the third floor will have her office from where she can supervise the business. Carina hopes the building will be completed by December, in time for the Christmas season. It will be a reason to celebrate with a big party. Lots of delicious food will be served, along with her famous chicken lumpia, of course. This Christmas will be different from the years when Carina had to borrow money from neighbors and friends. Since her husband Renato suffered from anxiety attacks and could only work for short hours, he only earned a small hourly income and the couple were constantly in debt trying to make A Recipe Nicely ends meet. To help put food on the table, Carina bought snack items like rice Wrapped Up cakes from the market that she sold by either going around the neighborhood or setting up a small table in front of her house. Later, she Did it need more pepper or salt? Maybe more switched from selling snacks to selling chicken lumpia that she also bought garlic? She only stopped asking when she was from the market. told her chicken lumpia was perfect As her small business started doing well, a good neighbor suggested that she make her own lumpia instead of buying from the market. The idea had its merits for someone like Carina who wanted to maximize her profits, and she started to test ingredients until she came up with her own recipe. With her husband’s help, Carina24
    • Carina Gonato How to Stay on Top, according to Carinawould spend long • Update yourself on what customers think and like abouthours cooking your product.and wrapping • Strive to learn how to improvethe lumpia that your business.she made right in • Read books and surf thetheir kitchen. She Internet for pointers on how todecided to call her be successfulproduct “Nateck’s • Keep pursuing your goals.Chicken Lumpia,”Nateck beingher husband’snickname. Shecharged P25 foreach pack of tenspring rolls. In the morning, Carina saw an opportunity tothe Gonato couple would ride their grow her business when a friendmotorcycle to sell their product to who worked at a bank told herneighbors or to workers at a nearby she could apply for a loan with anfactory. They would sell the lumpia on easy repayment plan and no stifffoot on days when the motorcycle had requirements.a flat tire. The First Agri-Industrial Rural Bank and Technology on how to improve Not content with simply making a (FAIR Bank) lent Carina P50,000 which her product.sale, Carina she used to buy ingredients and In 2011, Carina won the Citiwould keep equipment Microentrepreneur of the Yearasking her to produce Award. Along with the recognition,customers With her family now living more spring she received the privilege ofhow she could rolls. She then attending the Citi Microenterpriseimprove her comfortably in the new borrowed Development Center and enrolledproduct. Did house they built on their own money a few in the Grassroots Entrepreneurshipit need more more times, Management program funded property and with her children by Citi Foundation to help CMApepper or salt? using the loanOnions? Garlic in school, Carina finds herself to buy more winners improve their business. ingredients It had only been a few days sinceperhaps? She in a position to help others, not she delivered her third child byonly stopped and machines,asking for just by giving them jobs but hire people, caesarean section but that did notsuggestions also inspiring them to live a and enlarge stop her from flying to Manila fromwhen people their work Cebu to avail of the program.told her she better life. space. With her family now livinghad gotten the Over the comfortably in the new house theytaste just right. years, Nateck’s built on their own property and As the demand for Nateck’s has become a famous brand not with her children in school, Carinachicken lumpia grew, customers only in Cebu but also in the nearby finds herself in a position to helpstarted coming to their house. Renato provinces. Although many other others, not just by giving them jobsquit his job to help full-time with shops make chicken spring rolls, but also by inspiring them to live athe business. Later, the couple hired people often look for Nateck’s better life. It is a nice place to be inother people to help them make the because of its special taste, thanks to for someone who had been at thespring rolls in order to keep up with Carina’s recipe and the advice she got receiving end much too often inthe increasing orders. from the local Department of Science the past. g 25
    • F elicidad Kalalo – Nanay Fely to friends and family—came from a family that was poor in material things but rich in dreams. Dreams were not all she had, however. People could always count on her drive and diligence. And she had a passion and a talent for selling. Even as young girl, she had taken to buying and selling. She would purchase items and sell them to classmates for extra money. “Selling has always made me happy,” she says. One day, she fell for the charms of a boy named Eddie. They were young and in love so they eloped. They soon realized what they had gotten themselves into. “We had no food. We didn’t even have utensils to use for cooking,” Fely recalls. They had to buy their first cooking pot on installment. “That was how needy we were,” she says. In 1994, with their first child on the way, she thought of using a kariton (cart) for a rolling store. She would wake up early in the morning and prepare the snacks she would sell that day at a school in Famy, Laguna. She did that every day for four years, enduring the heat and braving the rain while Tatay Eddie worked as a kaingero (slash-and-burn farmer) up in the mountains. The Unsinkable Nanay Fely also started raising pigs in the small backyard to make some money from selling piglets. But the Nanay Fely foul smell annoyed her neighbors so she was forced to give up her small piggery. “Never mind, we’ll think of something else,” she told her husband. She believed that if they Driven by a passion for selling, she has traded helped each other and tried hard, in almost everything, from hogs to furniture and they could make their dreams for their family come true. lumber to copra husks She then put up a small sari-sari outlet (convenience store) that somehow helped with their daily expenses. But her passion for selling drove her to try other business ideas. “My26
    • Felicidad Kalalo Words of Wisdom from Nanay Felyhusband was very • Without trust and honesty,good with his your business will never grow.hands and made • If you borrow money, you mustbeautiful rattan pay it back. Be regular with yourfurniture pieces,” payments so you can borrowshe says. Before again to grow your business.she knew it, she • Be alert to how your businesshad started a is going. If it is too slow andrattan furniture you’re losing money, look for another business. • business, with Do not be afraid of starting over.Tatay Eddie doingthe crafting and • Most important, work hand-in- hand with your spouse.she, the selling.But in Taytay,Rizal, their smallenterprise hadgood days and market in Infanta, Quezon.bad days until there did not seem to As her shop prospered, she wasbe any demand for their furniture. able to repay her loan. That same “You have to be alert to how year, her best reward came.your business is going,” says In 2002, Nanay Fely received theNanay Fely. “If business is too slow Citi Microentrepreneur of the Yearand you’re losing money, look for Award and P75,000 in cash prize. “Ianother business.” was so happy and so proud of what Observing that more people were I had done,” she says. The prizelooking to buy coconut lumber and money enabled her to stock up herwanting to diversify her business, retail store with rice, vegetables,Nanay Fely bought a power saw for canned goods, soap, dry goods, and and simple to manage because allthe trees that her other fast-selling they needed to do was to weigh andhusband brought items repack the copra for their buyers.home. But then Besides a house and the But another Not only was there a big demandthe government trial came her way. 900-square meter property The ukay-ukay for copra, there was also a marketbanned the for coconut by-products. Nanay Felycutting down of in Pangil, Laguna, on (second-hand began selling sapal (pulp) as animalcoconut trees, so which it is built, she and clothes) craze feed and coconut husks for charcoal.once again the affected her sales. She is happy with her copra tradingKalalos had to her husband own two With a heavy business, which she plans to expandlook elsewhere for passenger jeepneys and a heart, Nanay when there is more capital, and heran income source. Fely stopped two mini-grocery stores. Besides a In 2002, Nanay tricycle that they use for her garment house and the 900-square meterFely joined Ahon deliveries. manufacturing property in Pangil, Laguna, on which itsa Hirap, Inc., and eventually is built, she and her husband own twoa microfinance sold all her sewing passenger jeepneys and a tricycle thatinstitution that lent her P35,000. She machines. It was time to move on to they use for deliveries.used the money to buy nine second- another business. Today, Nanay Fely continues to lookhand sewing machines to use for the Nanay Fely started buying copra. for better business opportunities,production of pillow cases, curtains, With her savings, she initially bought proof that she still has the passionsummer dresses, and other garments seven sacks. She found the business and the energy to make her dreamsthat she could sell at the weekend of buying and selling copra easy come true. g 27
    • T he Pandan plant grows everywhere Ester Lumbo lives. Everyone in her family and neighborhood grew up weaving banig (mats) out of Pandan leaves. When Ester married Bartolome and started a family with him, they naturally relied on weaving as their source of livelihood. They seemed to be destined to weave mats all their lives until a buyer whom Ester had usually supplied with banig showed up one day with a Pandan -made bag that she wanted copied. Ester thought it was a good idea and made several pieces. As she half-expected, the bags sold quickly, and that gave birth to another idea. In a town awashed with Pandan-made mats, she would make Pandan-made bags and her product would be special. She and her husband would weave the Pandan leaves all day and into the night to make into bags. Bartolome would then take the finished products to the neighboring towns to sell on market day. The business was starting to take off when the Lumbos were told that their third child, Cherry Mae, would need surgery to correct a serious heart condition. “My own heart was breaking,” recalls Ester. “My daughter was only three years old. I prayed all the time for her healing,” says Ester.Weaving Her Way Back The surgery that could save Cherry Mae’s life was only available in Manila, so Ester did what a loving mother would do – she dropped theSidelined by a child’s serious ailment, the  business and took her daughter to the big city for the operation.Lumbos had to work all day and the night to  In the hospital, the Lumbosregain their business footing   found out that the doctors could not operate on Cherry Mae’s heart until after the girl’s weakened lungs had been treated. That meant a much longer hospital stay than the family had expected. Cherry Mae’s prolonged hospitalization used up all the money her parents had saved28
    • Ester Lumbo Useful Ideas from Esterfor her surgery. • With or without competition,Soon, Ester and work hard on your business and never give up.Bartolome wereborrowing money • Make sure that production is on schedule and all orders arehere and there delivered on time.to tide them • Give your customers beautifulover until after and original designs to choosetheir daughter’s from.operation and • Careful planning is the key to arecuperation. successful business. It took ayear beforethe Lumboscould returnhome to NegrosOccidental. Bythat time, they to let a good opportunity pass,were buried in debt, their business Ester availed herself of a loan fromwas gone, and the competition was NWTF after becoming a membertoo far ahead of them in the Pandan and attending a week of seminars tobag trade that they had started. learn about the project. Since weaving was in their blood, Thankful to be given a chance toEster and her husband tried their revive their business through thebest to get back into the business, loan, the Lumbos buckled down tostaying up most nights to make up work. Soon enough, Bartolome didfor lost time. Ester can never forget not need to go to other towns tothe time when sell their bags.she caught Buyers startedBartolome showing up at 50,000 more for local orders andhalf-asleep but Today, Ester supplies 100,000 their doorstep retailers.with his hands Pandan-made bags and with bigger In 2010, Ester became the recipientstill weaving orders for their of the Citi Microentrepreneur of thethe Pandan other handicraft items every product. Ester Year Award. “We opened anotherleaves. She month to exporters in Cebu also hired business with the money that camestill gets a workers to help with the award,” says Ester. Thelaugh from and Manila who supply buyers production bakery that they put up from hertelling the from as far away as Hawaii. since she and winnings makes use of the bakingstory. Bartolome skills Bartolome had acquired from a One day, They also produce at least could not keep previous employment.a cousin of 50,000 more for local orders up with the The Pandan -weaving businessBartolome’s orders just by has made it possible for the Lumbostold them and retailers. themselves. to build a house and send the threeabout the Today, older children to college, includingProject Ester supplies Cherry Mae, who is now 22 yearsDungganon of the Negros Women 100,000 Pandan-made bags and old. Ester has no doubt that herfor Tomorrow Foundation (NWTF), a other handicraft items every month youngest would finish his studiesmicrofinance institution that reaches to exporters in Cebu and Manila who too. Best of all, the business hasout to businesses too small to avail supply buyers from as far away as generated jobs for 30 people whoof credit from big banks. Not one Hawaii. They also produce at least have families to support. g 29
    • F rom her hut by the sea in Baler, Aurora, Consuelo Valenzuela sells handicrafts woven from the leaves of the sabutan, a bush that grows abundantly in the lush mountains of her town. Born of a carpenter father and a housewife mother, Consuelo is the 11th of 15 children. In these dire circumstances, she grew up to be an independent, hardworking, and strong-willed woman. She took up a two-year secretarial course in college while working as a domestic helper, so as not to be a burden to her family. After finishing school, she worked as a clerk for the municipal government. Struggling to make both ends meet as an eight-to-five employee, Consuelo soon felt the need to explore an additional source of income to better help her family. As an active member of a youth cooperative, she had received some training on how to start her own business. With P8,000 in capital in 2001, Consuelo started producing place mats made of sabutan. At first, Consuelo juggled her day job and her business. That meant getting up very early and going to bed very late. The long hours would have defeated a lesser person but Consuelo was steadfast in wanting to Turning Leaves meet the challenges of running her own enterprise without giving up a regular source of income that she had held for nine years. into Gold She says: If you want to change your fate, help She started displaying her products at the town’s Pasalubong Center, which was being run by the Aurora Youth Entrepreneurs and Multi-Purpose Cooperative. Interest in trading at the yourself, but, above all, be generous center gradually waned and Consuelo ended up selling her handicrafts there by herself. Within a year, she had to give up her clerical job to give her full time to the business. In 2004, wanting to add sabutan slippers to her list of products, she borrowed P5,000 from Alalay sa30
    • Consuelo Valenzuela Practical Advice from ConsueloKaunlaran,Inc. (ASKI), a • Never borrow what you cannotmembership afford to pay back.microfinance • Do not take too many loansprovider that at one time, especially if your business is seasonal. • showed much Know when it is the right timeconcern for her to make a loan.small businessand encouraged • Follow your repayment schedule strictly.her to participate • Keep a list of things you haveat provincial and to do and complete each day.regional trade fairs. “I met morebuyers at thosefairs and mybusiness startedpicking up,” cater to surfers. Her other store issays Consuelo. As the market located at the town’s terminal.became saturated with sabutan When Consuelo advancedhandicrafts, Consuelo stayed ahead from the regional to the nationalof the competition by supplying her phase and finally won the Citiproducts wholesale to buyers outside Microentrepreneur of the Yearthe province. Awards (CMA) in 2006, the This was a major turning point for unexpected support she receivedher business. She hired as many as from ASKI and Baler’s public officials300 weavers to meet the increasing bolstered her self-confidence.demand for her handwoven goods “I always thought of myself as afrom as far away as Bicol, Vigan, nobody,” she says. “The award madeDagupan, Baguio, and Metro Manila. me believe in myself and in what I Consuelo is can do.”thankful that ASKI Consuelo madegave her easy Consuelo is now more wise use of the CMApayment terms and monetary prize ofhosted training than able to help her P150,000 and theworkshops that family. She sends her extra cash that shehelped in honing nephews and nieces to received from anher business skills. Aurora member of She used her school. She makes sure Congress by buyingmost recent they live a comfortable a van that she couldloan from the use for hauling raw Consuelo is now more than ablecooperative to open life. materials. She also to help her family. She sends herher own seaside used some of the nephews and nieces to school. Shepasalubong outlet, money to buy more makes sure they live a comfortable life.which she has supplies. “I don’t need to be rich. I’m happynamed, Pakunsuelo, a play on her She is also thankful for the media just to have enough to be able toname that loosely means “a token interviews that led to more people help others,” she says as she gazes atmeant to give comfort.” The outlet’s hearing about her products. “I got the giant waves, a natural metaphorlocation is ideal because it stands orders from as far as California,” for what she has had to overcome tonext to the resorts and the hotels that she says. get to where she is today. g 31
    • C herry Yack had a plan even before flying to Malaysia to work as a heavy equipment operator. As soon as he had saved enough money to start a business, he would return to Pagadian City. But after seven years of operating a bulldozer in a land far from home, he had saved very little, not even enough to build a house for his family. He realized the money he was earning did not really compensate for his unhappiness at being away from his wife and three children. Thinking he could do better in his own country, with his family by his side, he packed his bags and caught a flight back home. As it turned out, making a living was not easy in Pagadian, so Cherry left again to try his luck in Cebu, the city where he had found good work as a young man. He promised his wife that he would send for her and the kids as soon as he could. Cherry started his cassava cake business in Cebu in 1988, on the strength of a single oven and an ardent desire to provide a better life for himself and his family. He used what little he had saved from working overseas to go into the business he learned from his uncle.A Man Named Cherry Improving on his uncle’s cassava cake recipe, he would mix the ingredients himself. The hired help would then put the cakes in the ovenReviving a business wasn’t a piece of cake, but until they were perfectly baked.with hard work and a good loan, he succeeded Working for many hours a day, the two of them could make 30 square trays of cassava cakes that Cherry sold to schools and markets in nearby towns. With business doing well, Cherry was able to fulfill his promise to his wife after only a year. He moved his family from Pagadian to Cebu, not only so they would all be together again but also because he could use the extra hands. Already, he was hiring more workers and buying more ovens. Then came a major setback. Some32
    • Cherry Yack, Sr. Choice pickings from Cherryschool children • Avoid all vices because they take away from your time, yourdied and more health, and your money.were taken ill • Do not let your workers do allafter eating a the work for you, but makelocal food made sure the people you hire are asfrom cassava that hardworking as you.had not been • Always persevere and believeprepared and that God will lead you to yourcooked properly. goal.Although thishappenedin Bohol,the tragedyaffected Cherry’smicroenterprise. Faster thanhis business had After what must have been thetaken off, it plunged as people slowest two years of his business,became very wary of eating cassava. sales from his cassava cakes startedSoon, all of Cherry’s earnings and to pick up again. People hadeven capital were gone. Unable to forgotten about the Bohol tragedy.pay his workers, he was left with Cherry was able to revive theonly one. This loyal employee even business, thanks to his dedicationrefused to be paid to help revive the and the help he received from TSKIbusiness. in loans and business guidance. It was the lowest point for Cherry It was a TSKI manager whoand his family, but they hung on and informed Cherry that he wastried to get by with the few orders among the 10 nominees who hadfor cassava cakes been shortlistedthat still came for the Citiin. Cherry also On good days, Cherry Microentrepreneurstarted baking of the Year Awards On good days, Cherry producesbanana cakes to produces as many as in 2009. “They told as many as 11,000 cassava cakes. Heaugment sales. 11,000 cassava cakes. me to pray,” says supplies various schools, canteens, One day, his Cherry. and public markets throughout Cebu.sister who also He supplies various In answer to his The award and, on the whole, thehad a cassava schools, canteens, prayers, Cherry business have transformed Cherry’scake business told won the award life, not to mention the lives of hishim about Taytay and public markets and took home family and his workers. The Yackssa Kauswagan, throughout Cebu. P100,000 in prize have been able to put their childrenInc. (TSKI), an money that he through college. The eldest hasinstitution that put down on a obtained an electrical engineeringlent money to its members to help small piece of property right next degree and the youngest is adevelop microbusinesses like theirs. to his factory so he can extend graduating accountancy student. Cherry knew the loan was his last his production area. “We will Cherry has not regretted hischance to get back on his feet. “I begin construction in 2013,” he decision to return to the Philippineswas flat broke,” he says. “I will always says. Cherry also used some of to be with his family. “Why leavebe grateful to TSKI for lending me the money to make much-needed when you can make a living here andmoney when I needed it most.” repairs to his home. be happy?” g 33
    • A Hand Up Over a Hand OutHope abounds as members of the CMA National Selection Committeeshare their thoughts on the growth and future of microentrepreneurship Former Monetary Board member Antonino Alindogan, Jr. believes that microentrepreneurship “has certainly been a great factor in alleviating poverty nationwide, particularly in the unserved areas.” He commends the CMA winners for their sheer determination to overcome all odds. “Having been a judge in the CMA for several years now, I have come to believe that, when Filipinos are given a chance, they can succeed and prosper,” says Marixi Prieto, Chairperson of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. “With the help and the exposure Citi Foundation and Citibank give them, microentrepreneurs have a great chance of ending the cycle of poverty.”  She says each enterprise nominated for the CMA is sustainable because it often uses materials sourced from the same area where the business is based. It also provides employment to members of the community. She finds that the social values promoted by these modest ventures are as Antonino Alindogan, Jr. Every year, a small but distinguished group of men andwomen comes together to choose the winners of the CitiMicroentrepreneur of the Year Awards (CMA). Using experience, discernment, and businesssmarts, they take on the difficult task of choosing themost outstanding models of initiative, hard work, anddetermination from the thriving and vibrant community ofvery small business owners and operators. Captains of industry, successful entrepreneurs, financialexperts, and the academe, they make time for this annualexercise they consider worthwhile though it strains alreadybusy schedules.  They are men and women who are united by a sharedvision—that microentrepreneurship may yet be thesolution to the age-old problem of poverty that persists inthe country despite the many attempts and the billions ofpesos spent to eradicate it. Marixi Prieto34
    • strong as the financial ones. Fernando Zobel, President and Chief OperatingOfficer of Ayala Corporation and Chairman of Ayala LandInc., knows a lot about building wealth through giantcorporations.  But, like his fellow judges, he appreciatesthe role of microenterprises in poverty alleviation.  “A huge percentage of our people never had accessto credit and the financial system but microfinanceis changing this,” he says. “The enabling policy, theregulatory environment, and the viability of microfinanceas a profitable business are radically improving the livesof millions of low-income and unbanked Filipinos.” TheCMA, he adds, is “an excellent way to recognize thevision, hard work, and entrepreneurial spirit of smallbusiness operators as well as their stories of hope.”  Although his family has been behind some of thecountry’s biggest corporations, Joey Concepcion is atireless advocate and champion of small and mediumscale businesses. The President and Chief ExecutiveOfficer of RFM Corporation and the moving spirit behindthe Go Negosyo campaign, Concepcion says, the CMAwinners “inspire us all with their resilience” and are “atestament to how passion, hard work, and the right Joey Concepcionattitude can help change lives.”  He adds that the nominees have not just establishedtheir own businesses but also helped others cross the poverty line. He believes the greater impact of microfinance has been on families, especially those in rural areas.  Lawyer Felipe Gozon straddles both media and big business as Chairman of GMA Network, Inc. Like the other judges, he notes that the CMA has substantially increased “public awareness of the availability of microfinancing to small entrepreneurs and the benefits that may be derived from it.”  He commends the CMA’s screening process for highlighting “the entrepreneurial skills, seriousness of purpose, and dedication of the winners.”  Formally trained as a media person but born to a family imbued with great entrepreneurial spirit, first-time judge Robina Gokongwei-Pe, President and COO of Robinsons Retail Group, says, “The Beatles said it best when they sang ‘I get by with a little help from my friends.’  The CMA is one such friend, and one such help.  I just hope that this program will spawn bigger ideas for a better life among all of us.”  Dr. Darwin Yu, an Associate Professor at the Ateneo de Manila University and the only academic among the judges, says, “Several million households have benefited from microfinancing.  The multiplier effect would extend the benefits to other sectors as well.”  According to Dr. Yu, past CMA winners had the fortitudeFernando Zobel and perseverance to overcome whatever challenges stood in their way, the self-confidence to rise above their own 35
    • difficult situations, and the business acumen to make the right decisions to grow their businesses. He hopes that, through public policy, the right environment can be created to allow the sustainability of microenterprises, particularly in the rural areas.“It would certainly be helpful for the microentrepreneurs to be able to tap experts from the national and local governments, the professional associations, and even universities,” he adds.  “Telling a good story is the most effective way to develop awareness and encourage more institutions and individuals to help,” says Mr. Zobel, adding that the CMA has been an impressive “showcase for the stories of the most successful and inspiring microentrepreneurs on an annual basis.”  Ms. Prieto wants the stories brought to an even bigger audience. “Information regarding microfinance should be spread more widely, together with the success stories of those who have availed themselves of this financing.” For these men and women, participating in the annual CMA is their way of contributing to the multi-sectoral effort to encourage business initiatives and to stimulate productivity and progress where they are most needed and can have the most impact—at the grassroots. g Atty. Felipe Gozon Robina Gokongwei-Pe Dr. Darwin Yu36
    • cma alumniCiti Microentrepreneur of the Year AwardsWinners from 2002 to 2011 2002 2006 2009 Mrs. Josephine Alima Mr. Leovigildo Aday Ms. Annabel Bonsol Mrs. Juanita Aquino Mrs. Jennilyn Antonio Mrs. Lolly Cabbigat Mrs. Lucila Cruzada Mrs. Nolie Estocado Mrs. Dionesia dela Peña Mrs. Ponciana Escuadro Mrs. Jocelyn Llamoso Ms. Shirley Ecot Mrs. Felicidad Kalalo Mrs. Rizalina Magdula Mrs. Sahala Hadjuri Mrs. Victoria Lim Mr. Jose Ortega, Jr. Mrs. Virginia Lubguban Mrs. Emilia Montinola Mrs. Luz Pagdanganan Mr. Bienvenido Villanueva Mrs. Emma Morales Ms. Darliza Perez Mr. Cherry Yack, Sr. Ms. Consuelo Valenzuela Mrs. Marites Vistal 2004 2010 Mrs. Rubie Caiña Mr. Candido Delgado 2007 Ms. Lourdes Acuña Mr. Ismael Adiaton Mr. Orlando Dulay Mr. Henry Bayaua Ms. Virginia Dimayuga Mrs. Zenaida Avellaneda Mrs. Elma Garan Ms. Saturnina Diez Mrs. Nora Bagaforo Mrs. Dyna Mendoza Ms. Milagros Dorado Ms. Analiza Candole Mr. Sherlito Reyes Mr. Allan Geron Mr. Herminigildo Dulatre Mrs. Leticia Rosas Mr. Ruel Limpin Ms. Elma Gabriel Mrs. Julie Villanueva Ms. Rosa Mayordomo Mr. Enrico Jingco Ms. Maricel Quiap Ms. Ester Lumbo 2005 Ms. Ma. Cecilia Salarda Ms. Mary Jane Reyes Mrs. Virginia Borde Ms. Letecia Tabotabo Mrs. Imelda Brutas Mrs. Visitacion Ducay 2008 2011 Mrs. Teresita Laraño Ms. Susana Alivio Mr. Elino Andres Ms. Corazon Bautista Mrs. Jerilyn Lucareza Ms. Elibel Bautista Mr. John Cabillon Mr. Luciano Mendoza, Jr. Mr. Cerilo Delfin Mr. Danelito Castro Mrs. Rebecca Pangasian Ms. Prescilda Elnas Ms. Natividad Gabriel Ms. Maricel Evangelista Ms. Carina Gonato Ms. Zenaida Guray Ms. Jocelyn de Guzman Mrs. Estela Lagunzad Ms. Andresa Javines Ms. Cicilia Lorenzo Mr. Anastacio Postrero Mr. Julito Malinao Ms. Anunciacion Santillan 37
    • Citi microentrepreneur of the year awards partners The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is the central bank The Citi Foundation is committed to the economic of the Republic of the Philippines. It was established empowerment and financial inclusion of low-income on July 3, 1993 pursuant to the provisions of the 1987 individuals, families, and communities so that they Philippine Constitution and the New Central Bank Act can improve their standard of living. Globally, the Citi of 1993. The BSP took over from the Central Bank of Foundation targets these priorities for strategic giving: Philippines, which was established on January 3, 1949, as Microfinance, Enterprise Development, Youth Education the country’s central monetary authority. and Livelihoods, and Financial Capability and Asset Building. The Citi Foundation works with its partners in In 2000, the General Banking Act mandated the BSP to these areas to drive thought leadership and innovation. recognize microfinance as a legitimate banking activity and to set rules and regulations for its practice within the banking sector. Committed to the cause of improving the quality of life for Filipinos, the BSP declared microfinance as its flagship program for poverty alleviation and has since played a key role in the development of sustainable microfinance in the country. The Microfinance Council of the Philippines Inc. (MCPI) Citi, the leading global financial services company, has is a national network of microfinance institutions working approximately 200 million customer accounts and does towards sustainable, innovative, and client-responsive business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. solutions to poverty in the country. MCPI is currently In the Philippines, its history dates back to 1902 when comprised of 47 institutions, including 39 practitioners and its predecessor, the International Banking Corporation, 8 support institutions. Its regular members include 23 non- first established a branch in Manila. Today, it is the government organizations, 12 rural banks, 1 thrift bank, 2 largest foreign commercial bank in the country in terms cooperatives, and 1 regional network. The key programs of of customers, assets, and revenues. Citi proudly serves MCPI include advocacy, social performance management, the local business community, providing corporate and and consumer protection in microfinance, capacity building investment banking, treasury, transactional banking, and for microfinance institutions, performance monitoring and consumer services. benchmarking, and the establishment of a knowledge and research center for microfinance. Citi’s legacy of success in the Philippines includes a strong track record in community programs. Its workforce is steeped in volunteerism and dedicated to community service. It takes an active role in helping improve the quality of life in many local communities, extending its resources to create economically healthy communities for the benefit of all.38
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