CMA Special Awards recipients (from left) Rolando Pega, Rosanna Sinapilo,and Caroline Jamias.
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How they did it: Three microentrepreneurs banked on agricultural resources, rich cultural heritage to succeed in business
(Philstar.com) - April 8, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is blessed in natural resources and a rich cultural heritage, so it is heartening to see these three entrepreneurs recognizing the value of these priceless treasures, as they show us how one can harness these resources for a profitable business.

For this reason, Rolando Pega and Rosanna Sinapilo were recognized with the Special Award for Agri Micro-business, and Caroline Jamias was given the Special Award for Preservation of Traditions in the recently concluded 2019 Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards (CMA).

The CMA is a signature initiative of the Citi Foundation aimed at generating economic opportunities for low-income people, including youth, around the globe.

The awards program provides entrepreneurs with resources to strengthen their business, including access to networks, capital, tools and training; and enables individuals to create economic sustainability for themselves, their families, and their communities.

It highlights the combined efforts of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Citi Philippines, and the Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc. to strengthen microfinance and enterprise development and financial inclusion in the country.

Rolando Pega: A bountiful harvest

Rolando Pega (middle) was honored as one of the two winners of the Special Award for Agri Micro-business in 2019 CMA. With him in the photo are (from left) Felipe M. Medalla, monetary board member, Jocery Pueblo, development officer for ASHI, Marixi Rufino-Prieto, former chairperson of The Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Jimmy Ramos, operations division head for ASHI.
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From dawn to dusk, a farmer’s work is never done. Just ask Rolando, an onion farmer based in Pangil, Laguna.

A single father left to raise his children, Rolando first worked odd jobs to support his family. In 2014, an opportunity to go into an onion farming business paved the way for a profitable venture that also enables him to provide livelihood for other farmers and members of his community.

At that time, Ahon Sa Hirap Inc. (ASHI), was tapping farmers to supply spring onions for a major fast food chain. He obtained his first loan from the same microfinance institution, and trained under the entrepreneurship program of the said fast food chain.

“Ang lakaran ng presyo ng sibuyas ay up and down. Simula noong mapasama ako sa farmers entrepreneurship program sa tulong ng ASHI, nagkaroon kami ng market na siguradong pagdadalhan namin na ang presyo ay maganda (The price of onion in the market goes up and down. Since I became a member of the farmers’ entrepreneurship program through the help of ASHI, we were able to have our own market where prices are stable),” Rolando recalls.

Rolando now supplies spring onions to three major fast food chains without the need for middlemen. “Ang kalamangan namin sa nakakasabay namin sa pagtatanim ng sibuyas, kami po ay on time sa pag-deliver. Sinisiguro namin na maayos at de-kalidad ang dine-deliver naming produkto (Our advantage is that we deliver only quality products, and we deliver them on time),” shares Rolando.

Rolando now heads the AGAP Farmers Association of Laguna, and takes the lead in encouraging others to earn their own income. “Dagdagan ang sipag, tiyaga, at pananalig. Yan ang naging puhunan ko sa kinalalagyan ko ngayon (To get to where I am today, I put in a lot of hard work, determination, and faith),” Rolando says.

Rosanna Sinapilo: Back to coco basics

Rosanna Sinapilo (middle) was once again recognized as the winner of the 2019 CMA Special Awards for Agri Micro-business during her celebratory town hall in Candelaria, Quezon. With her in photo are (from left) Ferdinand Jikiri, senior director for Accounts, IT and Finance at ASA and Aileen Paglinawan-Gardon, administrator and finance manager for MCPI.
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The coconut is known as the “tree of life,” and for Rosanna and her husband, it truly is.

When they decided to spend their retirement years in their hometown Candelaria, Quezon in 2009, the couple turned to coconut products as a source of livelihood. Coco sap farming had been an old family trade, and this ultimately served as the foundation for their coconut processing business today.

Rosanna experimented in coco vinegar production, and then introduced coco sugar, and coco honey syrup. And when faced with the challenge of raising capital, she turned to ASA Philippines Foundation, which, to this day, continues to help grow her business.

With her full-scale plantation equipped with harvesting and processing facilities, Rosanna supplies organic coconut products to retail shops in Quezon, as well as to an exporting company.

Rossana’s expansion into mushroom production and processing is a way to keep the business running even during off-peak season. “Ito ay karagdagan para ipagpatuloy ang business at patuloy ang mga tauhan na may kinikita sila sa araw-araw (This is a way for the business to continue and still provide livelihood to our workers every day),” Rosanna explains.

Well aware of the challenges of running her own business, Rosanna puts her faith in God while continuing to work hard. “Huwag kayong susuko (Don’t ever give up)” is her advice to those who also wish to succeed in their business endeavor.

Caroline Jamias: Preserving Filipino tradition

Keeping the Kalinga culture alive, Caroline creates native costumes, bags, and wallets, among others, using Kalinga traditional textile.
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There are many unique facets to Kalinga culture, one of which is its traditional textile. Caroline has always had an appreciation for her heritage, so she started selling native costumes and bead accessories in 2008.

As Caroline longed to use these intricate weaving patterns in creating various items, she opened her own shop, Carol Line’s Ethnic and Fashion.

Eventually, she saw the opportunity to earn more if she could weave her own fabric and create her own designs. Caroline sought training in dressmaking, and then hired her own team of dressmakers, beaders, and weavers.

Alalay Sa Kaunlaran Microfinance Social Development Inc., helped her upgrade her business through loans that helped her purchase additional equipment.

Soon, Caroline also started offering barong, chokers, wallets, and bags. For Caroline, it was a way of making the Kalinga traditional textile a part of people’s everyday lives. “We help promote the products and preserve the rich culture of Kalinga,” Caroline says in her native dialect.

These products are distributed around the Cordillera Region, particularly Benguet, Sagada, Ifugao, and Baguio City. Through her affiliations with the Chamber of Kalinga Associations of Producers Inc. (CKAPI) and Kalipunan ng Liping Pilipina (KALIPI), Caroline continues to expand her network while sharing her experience to inspire others.

The mother of seven children shares the most important thing she has learned so far: “Love. Love for the products we create, for our employees, and above all, for the rich culture and tradition of the Kalinga.”

Outstanding microentrepreneurs in the spotlight

As CMA Special Awardees, Rolando, Rosanna, and Caroline received a cash prize of P100,000 each, as well as a laptop, life and health insurance coverage for one year, and access to grassroots entrepreneurship training at the Citi Microenterprise Development Center, another Citi Foundation program in partnership with Bayan Academy.

The Special Awardees also shared their victory with their employees and members of the community through celebrations held in their respective hometowns.

Rolando, Rosanna, and Caroline, together with five other winners were chosen by a National Selection Committee co-chaired by Bangko Sentral ng PIlipinas Gov. Dr. Benjamin Diokno, Ph.D., and Citi Philippines CEO Aftab Ahmed.

The committee members are: Jose Ma. Concepcion III, president and CEO, RFM Corporation; Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chairperson, SM Investments Corporation; Ramon Lopez, secretary, Department of Trade and Industry; Imelda Nicolas, president, Samahan ng mga Pilipina para sa Reporma at Kaunlaran; Marixi Rufino-Prieto, former chairperson, The Philippine Daily Inquirer; Dr. Michael Tan, former chancellor, University of the Philippines; and Fernando Zobel de Ayala, president, Ayala Corporation.

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