Micro enterprise to go mainstream

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Thursday, April 10, 2014


A LOCAL apparel and accessory brand whose products are made from native materials by Filipino women micro-entrepreneurs has announced that it is gearing up to enter the mainstream market.

Mga Likha Ni Inay, which is one of the programs of the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development-Business Development Service Foundation Inc. (Card BDSFI) aimed at providing livelihood to poor women, will take off as a new venture this quarter.

This is according to Card BDSFI president and chief executive officer Aristeo A. Dequito in a press conference last week.

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Dequito said Mga Likha Ni Inay will be separated from Card BDSFI and will function as a new business. He clarified, however, that Mga Likha Ni Inay, will still be part of Card Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (MRI) where Card BDSFI is a member organization.

“We are separating Mga Likha ni Inay from Card (BDSFI) this quarter because we want the brand to stand out,” he told reporters.

In preparation for this, the organization is stepping up its marketing efforts to introduce the brand to the market.

Last Friday night, a fashion show was held in SM City Cebu to showcase products of Mga Likha Ni Inay. This was the fifth fashion show organized by Card and the first in Visayas.

In addition, Card officials also announced its partnership with Red Logo Inc,., a direct selling brand of Golden ABC that carries brands like Penshoppe, Vero, Truth, Agenda, etc.

Red Logo officer in charge Liza L. Santos said the partnership entails making Mga Likha Ni Inay accessories, wallets, and footwear sold in Red Logo. The products will also be showcased in their magazine catalogues starting next month.

Card will also be opening 10 Mga Likha NiInay branches within the year. It has seven kiosks nationwide.

Its products are also present in Kultura, department stores, souvenir shops, and restaurants. In Cebu, one branch is set to open this year but Dequito said the location is yet to be finalized.

Card BDSFI has 217 regular suppliers of Mga Likha Ni Inay products, accounting for 1,600 beneficiaries.

“In Mga Likha Ni Inay, the family members are involved in the production. This is a family enterprise,” said Dequito.

Card MRI founder and managing director Jaime Aristotle B. Alip said the decision to go mainstream was prompted by the organization’s goal to alleviate poverty by boosting the livelihood opportunities of women micro entrepreneurs by generating more jobs as micro enterprises start to grow.

“(I hope this will) increase our clients’ (women micro entrepreneurs) income and better their lives,” Alip said.

Card purchases the products of their members and handles the marketing and selling of the products.

Card MRI has 52,700 members in Cebu. It opened an office in 2005. It has 38 unit offices in the province. Women members can get a loan of P5,000 to start a business and the amount can go as high as P50,000 as time progresses.

“(We are here) to saturate the needy. Mas mahirap ka, mas tutulungan ka namin. If you don’t have collateral, the more we help you,” Alip said.

In exchange for the loans, members should attend livelihood and health trainings in Card’s offices. Children of the members can also avail themselves of the organization’s scholarship.

Alip also reported that they linked up with Duty Free for their products. Although the products are only available at Duty Free branches in Manila, he said the products will be offered in other branches.

“This is consistent with the policy of Asean integration…These companies are not doing this for CSR. They see the value of the (Mga Likha Ni Inay) products because of the quality and affordable pricing…Products can compete with other commercial products and are commercially viable. ” said Alip.

Mga Likha Ni Inay has an array of products from casual wear, street wear, swim wear, formal attires, accessories, wallets to footwear. Some of their products have already been showcased in other countries.

In Cebu, Dequito said their bestsellers are products with a Capiz shells.

Dequito said their products are 40 percent lower than the other products of the same line in the market.

Mga Likha Ni Inay’s models come from Card MRI’s staff and the women-members and their families.

Alip said the organization has plans to organize a fashion show in Tacloban and train women in the locality. This, he said, can bring livelihood opportunities to women in disaster-stricken areas.

“We are not asking for charity but we’re giving dignity to our clients by bringing their products out there in the market. 99.9 percent of our clients are poor women,” Alip shared. They also plan to export their products.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 11, 2014.

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