CRISTITA Belhida doesn’t know how to read and write.

The 43-year-old housewife is a mother of four. She sometimes works as a harvester of root crops in a small piece of land.

This has been her life for 23 years. But things might soon change as she decides to start her own business.

Last Tuesday, the local government of Dalaguete chose Belhida along with 34 other townsfolk to become part of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) retail management program. This is a three-day entrepreneurship seminar, the first program implemented under the National Government’s Accelerated and Sustainable Anti-Poverty Program (ASAPP).

During the three-day period, Belhida and the other participants studied how to make their own financial statements and balance sheets under the mentorship of business-economic professor, Joseph Emerson Johl Subong from the University of Cebu.

“I don’t know why they chose me. I don’t even know how to write,” a teary-eyed yet smiling Belhida told Sun.Star Cebu in Cebuano yesterday.

Belhida only finished Grade 1 and is illiterate, but she never thought of pulling out from the entrepreneurship class, despite having to face unfamiliar business concepts.

Belhida found a friend in Merlyn Embajador, the ASAPP focal officer in Dalaguete, who wrote down the business ideas for her.

Belhida needs P15,580 to start her business of buying and selling sweet potatoes and bananas. In less than a month from now, Embajador said Belinda could receive in-kind what she proposed to DSWD.

If this is realized, Belhida will not have to rely on the P170 daily income of her husband, who works as a trisikad driver in Dalaguete. However, after learning the core concepts of entrepreneurship, she said she would rather save and reinvest the money that she will earn from her future business.

“Any profit I make will be for the business. Our daily subsistence will still come from my husband’s income,” she said.

Like Belhida, her classmates in the entrepreneurship seminar are hopeful of succeeding in their respective businesses. Some want to start a sari-sari store while others want a rice dealership. Some expressed their wish to engage in vegetable trading, Dalaguete being Cebu’s vegetable basket.

The town of Dalaguete is one of the 29 municipalities in the country with the highest number of poor constituents.

From July 29 to Aug. 1, DTI and DSWD will bring the retail management seminar to the town of Sta. Fe and on Aug. 13 to 15 in Tuburan, according to DTI Cebu business development chief Elias Tecson.

These were also identified as part of the 29 municipalities in the country with the highest number of poor constituents.

“I hope you will be the disciples of change in Dalaguete,” Mayor Ronald Allan Cesante said in his address to the 35 participants.