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Women in Food Business: 3 Stories of UPLiFT’s 3 Pioneer Partners in Marikina

Maricel Moral and her family had lived in different places in Metro Manila and eventually settled in Marikina, a city they now call home for the past 20 years. Her father runs a small vulcanizing shop next to their house, which caters mostly to local jeepney and tricycle drivers. To help augment the family income, Maricel helps her Mother Julia in doing what they know best, and that is to cook.

In an industrial city like Marikina, where schedules are hectic and people are always on the rush, most families find it easier to just buy their meals rather than cook their own food. This offered a good opportunity for mother and daughter to start their own small “carinderia” (canteen) in front of their house which also doubles as a “sari-sari” store. As initial capital for their food business, Julia used her own savings. Their neighbors and local public utility drivers became their regular customers.

With the growing number of households in the neighborhood, they saw the need to borrow additional capital to be able to cook more food, as well as, buy more stocks for their store. They turned to UPLiFT for the needed financial assistance and it was decided that Maricel would be the one to apply for membership. She is now one of the pioneer UPLiFT Partners in Marikina and was given P5,000 for her 1st loan last March 2012.

Maricel still looks up to her mother when it comes to making major decisions for their business. Right now, they are focussed on improving their carinderia and sari-sari store with the loan she received. In the future, they plan to apply for a bigger loan with UPLiFT as capital for their next business in mind: Buy-and-Sell of Ready to Wear Clothes. With an entrepreneurial mom and a very supportive daughter, this dream can soon become a reality.

Sonia Salonga is a member of the 1st batch of UPLiFT Partners from Marikina Branch who received their loans last March 2012. She wakes up everyday at 4AM to go to the market and buy the ingredients she needs for the days cooking. She carries a lot on her way home since she has to cook for about 30 people, mostly loyal customers working in the nearby paper mill.

Upon getting home, her husband has already gone to work as a tricycle driver. Only her older children (she has 3 children) are around to help her with the preparations. It is 6AM already, which means they have roughly 3 hours to cook the menu for the day: rice, 3 meat dishes & at least 1 vegetable dish. When they are done with the cooking, they let the food cool down a bit before placing it in measured quantities (single servings) inside individual plastic bags. The bags are then arranged in 2 carrying baskets, ready for delivery.

Sonia then prepares herself this time and changes into clean clothes. She has to leave home by 10AM to be able to get to the paper mill in time for lunchbreak. She delivers her meals to the mill on foot (she rarely commutes). Also, she wants to arrive early at her usual spot outside the mill because she thinks its better that she’d be the one to wait for her hungry customers rather than them waiting for her.

And Sonia’s patience pays off. A little after 12 noon, hungry people rush to her, and in no time, her food basket is emptied (it is very seldom that she has food left to bring back home). Some of her customers pay cash, but majority are under credit which she collects at the end of the week, every Saturdays, when the mill workers receive their weekly wages.

Her day is not done yet. There are still some customers waiting for her back home. Some are neighbors who buy their lunch from her, others are dine-in customers - mostly drivers and laborers from nearby autoshops. Only after her last customer has left the table will she be able to have her lunchbreak.

At 1PM, she again starts to get busy. This time to prepare merienda (afternnoon snacks) which she would again deliver to the paper mill. The menu is more simple – pancit or spaghetti, plain bread or sandwhich & sometimes fresh lumpia; much less work compared to the rush earlier in the morning. She gets to her favorite spot outside the mill before the bell rings at 3PM to signal the afternoon breaktime.

She goes home happy. She has one last thing to worry for the day though: What would be nice for family dinner tonight?

Imelda Acebutch is a single parent who used to be an OFW in Hongkong for 13 years. She decided to go home to her family in Marikina last 2010 to be a fulltime mom to her only daughter who is now on her 1st year in college.

She then started looking for a job, but it was her sister who gave her the idea to start a small home-based business instead. Since she lives in front of an elementary school, she decided, at first, to open a sari-sari store. But she found out later that it was not that profitable, so she changed her business after a year. In 2011, Imelda studied on her own how to make hotdog waffles which she planned to sell at the canteen of the school across her house. She quickly developed her own method and her waffles became instant hit among the students. With her perseverance, she was able to acquire permits to sell her waffles in 2 other school canteens in Marikina.

Imelda does her marketing everyday at around 5PM. By 7PM, she already starts preparing the dough and the hotdogs for cooking later, after that she gives herself a break to spend time with her family. The 1st batch of waffles (100 pcs) are cooked at 10PM, taking about an hour to finish. Only then will she be able to catch some sleep.

The next day, she wakes up at around 3AM to cook the 2nd batch of waffles (200 pcs). At 5AM the cooked waffles are packed and ready for delivery. At present, Imelda hires a neighbor to help deliver these waffles to the school canteens. The 1st delivery, at 6:30AM, is for the 2 schools farthest from the house. At around the same time, the 3rd batch of waffles (150 pcs) are cooked and is scheduled for delivery to the school across the street at 8AM.

But Imelda is not done yet. At 10AM, she cooks the last batch (4th) of waffles (150 pcs) which will then be delivered equally to the 3 school canteens, at 1PM, as additional supply for afternoon merienda. Imelda then takes a rest the entire afternoon to regain her strength. At 5PM, she again goes to the market to buy the supplies she needs for the next day.

Imelda admits that her present rate of production cannot supply the demand for her waffles. With plans to supply 2 more school canteens near the area, she decided to partner with UPLiFT. With the additional capital borrowed, she will able to buy more ingredients, as well as, hire another helper to increase her production and cope up with the demand for her waffles.

Home-made waffles as a business entails a lot of work, but Imelda is proud of the little successes she has accomplished so far, just as she is proud of the fact that she is building a brighter future for her daughter despite being a single parent.

Success Story: Violy's Pineapple Cart Vendors

Partner(s): Violeta Nicolas
Location:    Sitio Militar, Barangay Bahay Toro, Quezon City
(halaw sa Blog ni LaRaine Sarmiento sa multiply.com)

PATOK NA PATOK ang negosyong bungang pinya na patingi-tingi ni Violeta Nicolas. Sa gulang na 52 taon beterano na siya sa patitinda sa kalye tulak-tulak ang kariton niya sa paglalako. Tubong Tondo, Maynila, naninirahan sa Sitio Militar, Barangay Bahay Toro, ang pinalamig ng yelo na hiwa-hiwang pinya ang handog niya sa mga suking sabik sa asim, tamis at sustansya ng prutas.

Tagabagsak ng pinya si Violeta sa ibang manininda sa kanilang barangay. Ang mga ito naman'y inaangkat niya mula sa suki sa pamilihan sa Balintawak, Caloocan City. Alas-dos pa lamang sa madaling araw, puno na ng pinya ang kanyang sala ng bahay niya na halos kasingtaas ng tao ang pagkakasalansan. Sa ika-6 ng umaga, nasa kalsada na ang kanyang mga tagabenta sa kariton. Samakatuwid, di lamang siya ang kumikita, anim ring tauhan niya ang nakikinabang sa negosyo ni Violy.

Nagsimula lamang siya noong 1995 sa kapital na P5,000. Kumuha siya ng tatlong tauhang pawang kapitbahay niya para magtulak ng karitong iikot sa mga kalye para magtinda ng hiniwa-hiwang pinya. Gumastos siya ng isang libo bawat kariton. Ang natira ang pinambili niya ng panindang pinya. Iyon ang pinaikot na rin niya. Kada buwan, nakakapagtinda siya ng 2,000 buong piraso ng pinya.

Sa kasalukuyan, nakakapagbenta siya ng humigit kumulang 12,000 piraso kada linggo bagamat may kakumpitensya na siyang apat pang mga dealer ng pinya sa Sitio Militar mismo. May tatlongpung (30) tauhan si Violy sa kasalukuyang nagtutulak ng kariton. Kung minsan, kulang pa sa mga ito ang 12,000 pirasong pinya, lalo na kapag panahon ng tag-init at malakas ang konsumo ng mga suki mula sa mga malalaking tanggapan at opisina.

Laganap sa buong Sitio Militar ang pagtitinda ng pinya sa kariton. Umaabot rin kasi ang pagbebenta ng nagkakariton hanggang sa mga barangay ng Distrito 4 ng Lungsod, Navotas at karatig bayan ng Maynila. Paminsan-minsan, kung nasa panahon, nagbabagsak rin siya ng ibang prutas gaya ng papaya at pakwan.

May trabaho sa printing press ang kanyang mister. Pero hindi kalakihan ang sahod. Kaya't mula sa negosyong ito, napapag-aral ni Violy nang matiwasay ang kanilang anim na anak. Natutustusan ang pang-araw-araw na pangangailangan nilang mag-anak. Hangad niyang makatapos ng pag-aaral ang kanyang anak na babae na ngayon ay nasa ikalimang taon na sa kursong Information Technology.

Pangarap ni Violeta na magkaroon ng isang sasakyan para mag-pick-up ng mga prutas mula sa Balintawak. Sa kanyang nahiram sa UPLIFT Philippines na siyang kapartner ng Sikap Buhay, patuloy na lumalago ang kanyang negosyo. Hangad naman niya sa kanyang 30 tauhang nagtutulak ng kariton na huwag sanang mahuli ng Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) dahil disente ang kanilang hanapbuhay at malaking perwisyo sa kita ang pagkakahuli nito. Ginigiba kasi ng MMDA ang mga kariton kapag nahuli ang tagatinda nila ng pinya at umuuwing luhaan at walang kita. Magkaganoon man, nais niyang ipatuto sa kanyang mga tagatinda ang kahalagahan ng pagiging tapat at pagkita nang marangal.

Success Story: Folding Wooden Chairs

Partner(s): Sherlita & Roman Abisan
Location:    Brgy. Tenejeros, Malabon City

Life is really challenging in the City of Malabon. It is in the quiet area of Tenejeros, that we met a local woman, Sherlita Abisan, who is engaged in the production of wooden folding chairs. Sherlita’s husband Roman used to work as a vendor for his brother who was also manufacturing wooden folding chairs. It wasn’t long before the couple saw the potential of the business and thought of setting up their own.

The demand for the wooden folding chairs was growing especially in the fish port areas of malabon and navotas where vendors would rest on their wooden folding chairs amidst the busy market.

Sherlita partnered with UPLiFT to support her plans for business. With an initial loan of 5,000 pesos, she was able to start production of her own wooden folding chairs. Sherlita is in charged with marketing and budgeting, while her husband is responsible for quality control. With daily profit of about 1,200 pesos, almost 41% of it is being reinvested in the business. The current market value of the assets of her business is estimated at around 76,000 pesos.

Sherlita’s wooden chair business also helps her neighbors, whom she gets as sellers. They become additional workforce when there are bulk orders coming from Divisoria and Montalban. She also gives commission to her sellers.

Through her ingenuity, Sherlita also diversified her business by selling wooden folding chairs for kids and wooden trays locally known as "bisaklat", on a made-to-order basis. Thus adding more income for the couple.

Armed with nothing but hardwork, good people-skills and perseverance, Sherlita is now reaping the benefits of everything she worked for. Here is what she has to say:

"Our advice is hard work and patience. Don’t be impatient and profit will follow. At first, it was us who were doing all the work, until we couldn’t produce anymore because of our small store. After that we got some people to help us and now they are the ones making our product.

With one chair, we can earn 30 pesos. At first we were earning 10,000 pesos a month and we were getting very few bundles of wood. Because of the limited capital & raw materials, we can only produce 150 chairs at a time.

Like when we were starting, it was a very small business. With hard work and penny-pinching, you too will be able to save money!