Inspiring confidence-A A +A
Friday, August 10, 2012
IF there’s one impact the Obra Negosyo Eskwela Countryside Enterprise Business Upliftment program has brought to the lives of small enterprises in Cebu, it is the renewed confidence that their businesses can get bigger.
“Before this project came in, my cookie business only generated P500 a month. But after months of product development and business mentoring, revenues jumped 80 percent higher. My business is now generating P45,000 to P50,000 a month,” said Nazaria Colminas of Tudela.
Colminas, with her cassava cookie business, was one of the Obra Negosyo Eskwela winners. She thanked the Provincial Government, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) and the academe for the promotion of countryside entrepreneurship yesterday during the Obra Negosyo Eskwela Symposium held at the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC).
Aside from product development, she also learned about time management. “I can now effectively juggle my work as a teacher and as an entrepreneur,” she said.
Loreta Cahiyang of Pilar, Camotes said she gained self-confidence throughout the immersion and mentorship of the chamber and the academe.
Cahiyang said it was the students who pointed out that her fermented fish paste (ginamos) product needs to be improved as the fish (bolinao) was too big to be consumed. They then decided to grind the fish, improved its packaging and labeling, and branded it as Pâte de Pilar.
Cahiyang represented Pilar town last year during the first season of Obra Negosyo Eskwela and won fifth place.
Apolinario Rios from Carmen said his business, mud crab fattening, has improved since the chamber and the academe’s intervention. “Not only did they give us hope that we can become successful entrepreneurs, they helped improved the livelihood in my community,” he said.
Astrophel Ibañez of the Tabogon Ecological Management Association Inc. (Temai) said Obra Negosyo Eskwela helped them market the association’s charcoal briquette made of forest twigs and carbonized coconut shells.
Charcoal Briquette won the grand prize last March 2011 under the cluster category and got P200,000 as its prize. Temai manufactured the smokeless and environment-friendly briquette. Ibañez said the Provincial Government pledged to make them the supplier to the new Larsian, which will be called Eco-Larsian, a popular barbecue place near Fuente Osmeña.
“With this opportunity, I am now asking the governor to add more machines and urge all municipalities to engage in this production not only to supply the demand but also to stop the cutting of trees,” Ibañez said.
Nenita Brendares of Dalaguete shared she prepared a lot of pickled mixed vegetables in the hope of catching the attention and earning the support of Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia. She said she was lucky to be mentored by the program.
“The dream of having a successful business venture is now close to reality. My workers are earning a stable salary of P100 a day because of the improved business operations,” Brendares said.
Garcia, in her keynote speech, said Cebu’s entrepreneurial skills stemmed from its lack of agricultural land. “This largely inhospitable agricultural land made Cebuanos more creative and innovative in finding ways to produce something,” she said.
She noted that access to credit and financing, investments on technology and lack of knowledge and expertise in the business have pushed her to link with the private sector and academe to bring in the “right factors” that would benefit the micro-enterprises.
The Provincial Government has granted capital for the selected micro-enterprises, while MCCI members were fielded to provide mentoring to the micro-entrepreneurs.
Partners from academe, on the other hand, deployed their business management students to help the micro-entrepreneurs come up with a business and product development plan and teach them the basics of accounting and bookkeeping. Local government units were tasked to ensure that students were provided with safe accommodations.
Garcia hopes more Cebu-based schools and universities will extend support to the program. She said the aim is not only to help Cebuanos become better entrepreneurs but to produce more products that would enhance Cebu’s brand.
She also said the program has profited the chamber in terms of meeting new suppliers and new markets for new products. Garcia reported that Julita Urbina of Café Laguna has become a market of Cahiyang’s Pâte de Pilar.
Garcia also said the academe’s participation will also give birth to wiser and better entrepreneurs.
“If we continue to involve our students in this program, we would be able to see a better breed of entrepreneurs that are more resilient,” she said.
This year’s Obra Negosyo Eskwela had 20 participating micro-enterprises and 12 partner Cebu-based universities and colleges.
Ten micro-enterprise winners were given P100,000 grant, while others got P50,000. The top five performing schools include University of Cebu (UC)-Banilad for Catmon native chicken; Cebu Normal University for cassava cookies; University of the Visayas for Carriaga furniture; and University of San Carlos for citronella oil and tableya de Sogod.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 11, 2012.