IN 2007, when real estate businesswoman Melesa “Elsie” Chua went on a trade mission in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman), she was struck at how overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) did not have confidence in the Philippines. Worse, they did not plan for their lives back home once their contracts expire, which they should since GCC countries do not grant citizenship to foreigners. “The challenge was not in selling homes and properties, but in orienting them to believe in the Philippines again, and teaching them how to save and invest,” says Elsie, president and CEO of CDC Holdings Inc. She also learned that a lot of OFWs who have worked for more than 20 years abroad have not even purchased a home. The remittances would be spent by their families back in the Philippines for their wants and needs. “They felt na kinakatasan lang sila, thus the term ‘katas ng Saudi,’” relates Elsie. OFWs also thought that they needed to have P1 million on hand to be able to buy a new home. Elsie thus decided to focus on this niche market, the first time home buyers among OFWs in GCC. “Understanding our market’s needs, we developed properties that are of superior quality but suitable to their budget. For as low as P1 million spread over a term through Pag-Ibig, our OFWs can acquire new homes that are conducive for new families and first-time home owners,” adds Elsie. Under the setup, Pag-Ibig can finance up to 90 percent of the contract price, and OFWs need only to pay about P8,000 monthly, so the homes really become attainable. These developments include Manila Rivercity Residences in Sta. Ana, Manila, and Lions Park Residences in Parañaque, both condominiums. Also being marketed are Crisanta Villas, a townhouse project in Cainta, and La Joya de Sta. Rosa in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, which offers single detached units. OFWs can own a home of their own from as low as P950T for a studio and up to P2.5 million for a townhouse. Interestingly, most buyers go for the condos. CDC Holdings is not new to tapping the OFW market. Back in 1992, the company started offering Philippine real estate projects to OFWs based in Japan. This was extended to OFWs in Asia Pacific and Europe in succeeding years. But they have never thought of zeroing in on OFWs in the Middle East because it was widely thought that they did not have the earning capability and the spending potential of OFWs in First World countries. During that visit to GCC in 2007, Elsie saw how progressive the countries were. “Opportunities for business and Filipino professionals abound in the food and service industries. Filipinos contributed to the growth and development of GCC,” adds Elsie. She also noted that OFWs in the region have a lot of disposable income as luxuries and vices are limited and their incomes are exempt from tax. According to Charlene Chua, vice president for sales and marketing of CDC Holdings, and daughter of Elsie, based on statistics gathered from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, over 2 million or 25 percent of OFWs are in the GCC countries. Last year, they accounted for over US$2B or 15 percent of the total remittances made. Over a million OFWs are in Saudi Arabia, and more than 500,000 are in the United Arab Emirates. Since they are not to be granted residency by the countries they are in, most of these OFWs will go home in the future. It thus makes sense for them to invest in a home of their own. To make it easier for CDC Holdings to reach its target market, it set up offices in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and in Doha, Qatar. “We learned that our OFWs were traumatized with their experience with other real estate companies. Once the initial reservation fee was paid, no follow through was made afterwards. We want to make our OFWs feel at ease with buying their homes, and guide them every step of the way. That’s why we thought our presence was needed there at GCC,” explains Elsie. CDC Holdings also entered into a tie-up with the Arab National Bank to raffle off two house and lot packages to OFWs to increase awareness about the company and its real estate projects. It also made it possible for buyers to pay through local banks RCBC, BPI, PNB and through their foreign tie-ups with banks abroad. Last year, CDC Holdings reported P500M in sales. This year, according to Charlene, they are targeting P1 billion, of which 70 percent has already been attained this November. “We’re expecting to hit our target by the end of the year. This is our peak season as OFWs are on their way back to the Philippines for a vacation,” says Charlene. In spite of the economic downturn worldwide, Charlene says they have not experienced a slowdown in sales. “It’s getting even stronger. OFWs have been awakened to the fact that they can invest.” Next year, the company is targeting sales of P1.5 billion as new developments will be started in and outside Metro Manila, including Cebu, Iloilo, and some provinces in Mindanao. Satellite offices will be opened in Oman, Bahrain and the UAE. To finance these, CDC Holdings will increase its capitalization to P500M next year. “We acknowledge the contribution of our OFWs in keeping our economy afloat in this time of financial crisis. As they are integral to the development in GCC, they are also the cornerstone to our progress as a nation,” says Elsie. “We will work as hard in giving them their dream homes, and as conscientious in giving them a bright future once they settle back in the country. Overall, I believe that government and business should consolidate all efforts to protect, care, and secure the future of OFWs who have sacrificed for their families and for the country.”
November 2008 Archives
Today’s generation, dubbed Generation Q, is described as well-educated, passive, less radical, not socially engaged, but with high-paying jobs. But they are also optimists who will always have hope for the future. “How do we get our customers to give back?” asks Paolo del Rosario, marketing director of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Philippines, Inc. “Sometimes all one needs is a start,” says del Rosario. This is what led CBTL to design a program to help spark the passion of this generation and stimulate the spirit of giving. Dubbed 12 Cups with The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf: Give In to Giving, the program allows customers to get involved or help out in any or all of the 12 handpicked non-government and charity organizations involved in different causes. “We want this holiday season to be what it’s about—giving. We tried to come up with different representation of organizations. There’s bound to be something that would be close to your heart,” says del Rosario. CBTL conducted an informal survey among 600 of its customers per store to find out what causes are interesting to them. First on the list is education, second is children’s health, and third is children’s welfare. But customers are also interested in supporting environmental protection and animal rights, among others. For customers to be involved in the program, all they need to do is to complete the 12 boxes (representing drinks ordered) in a stamp card. When the card is filled up, the customer can choose one advocacy to support. CBTL will donate to the customer’s chosen charity in his name. In return, the customer gets a limited edition CBTL journal featuring artworks by Filipino artists such as Zean Cabangis, Erwin Leano, Carlo Angelo Saavedra, Salvador Joel Alonday, Benjie Cabangis, Noell El Farol, Sandra Fabie-Gfeller, Jim Orencio, Riel Hilario, Christina Quisumbing Ramilo, Augusto Albor, and Jose Tence Ruiz. And for customers who would like to donate to all 12 charities, they get one year’s supply of brewed coffee for free. The program runs from November 7, 2008 to January 18, 2009. The twelve organizations catering to different advocacies benefiting from the program are: Kababaihan Gabay sa Bayan (KAGABAY), Caritas Manila-Restorative Justice Program, Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), Bahay Tuluyan, Haribon, Cartwheel Foundation, Kythe, Autism Society of the Philippines (ASP), Philippine Cerebral Palsy Inc., Philippine Band of Mercy (PBM), Resources for the Blind, and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP). CBTL commits to donate in a customer’s name the following: * KAGABAY: P600 per child for kids’ education needs * Caritas Manila: P1,000 for values formation classes and materials per schoolyear per inmate * PAWS: medicines for animals under their care * Bahay Tuluyan: a birthday present per child worth P250 * Haribon: adoption of a seedling * Cartwheel Foundation: P8,000 for educational materials, curriculum development, tuition, teacher training for each student per schoolyear * Kythe: an unforgettable kids’ outing * ASP: P2,000 for books needed by children to study * Phil. Cerebral Palsy Inc.: P1,800 per month per patient for medicine and rehabilitation * PBM: P8,000 for the operation of each child * Resources for the Blind: P1,000 for Braille textbooks * PBSP: medical consultation worth P200 for a child “If you ask me, with the abundance of blogs, social networking sites and mobile phones, the passion of our generation is really that we share a piece of ourselves to others,” says del Rosario. “Through Give In to Giving, CBTL hopes this will start a change in our generation for the better, one cup at a time.” Photo shows two of the artworks used in the limited edition CBTL journals. These artworks are by Riel Hilario (Whatever Happened to Pygmalion and Galatea) and Christina Quisumbing Ramilo (Madre Simula-BIRTH).
By: Jo Anne D.P. Villarosa* For most developed countries, citizens travel and live abroad and it is considered a privilege. A wild adventure for many; a search for self for some. Whatever the agenda, citizens of developed countries fly away from their homeland with excitement. They leave by their own free will and they come home whenever they wish. The rest of the world is another story. We Filipinos, for example, leave our homeland for many reasons. The lucky ones leave for the rich learning that traveling provides. Other fortunate souls leave for better education or training, some leave for a change of lifestyle, and then there are those who leave to survive. Unfortunately, the reason one might have for leaving the country is largely dependent on one’s social and economic status in our unjustly stratified nation. It is one of the greatest ironies of our culture: family members living oceans away from each other and elementary textbooks saying that Filipino families are very closely knit. Yes, the closeness can exist despite the distance but one would think that it wouldn’t seem so natural for Filipinos to leave their families behind. The Philippines becomes a distant home to uprooted Filipinos, and after many years of being away, that distant home becomes a vague concept that departs from the world of reality and remains in the realm of nostalgia and memory. Filipino doctors signing up to be nurses, Filipino teachers selling cosmetics, Filipino engineers securing hotel lobbies – it seems that our current migration pattern is not only taking our people away from their families, but it is also taking them away from themselves, from what they set out to accomplish in life. Filipinos are transforming themselves just to get out and stay out of the country. Worse, it is the very Filipinos who are much needed in the country who are leaving. How have we as a people allowed ourselves and our nation to come to this? The government and its enthusiasm in exporting Filipinos in exchange for remittances is an easy cop out. It is true that they are worthy of such blame, but we should also be pointing our fingers to ourselves. It is our country, our homeland, and yet we turn our backs on it now that things are not so sunny and abundant. We have become too complacent – perhaps too exhausted – to exert the mental, emotional and physical energy to really own our country and take care of it and improve it. But let us remember that we Filipinos are a people of passion and conviction. We are capable of believing in something greater than ourselves, beyond ourselves, and we stand up and fight for our beliefs. We Filipinos have innovative minds, diligent hands, and big loving hearts. We can lead and we can nurture. We are versatile people. We just need to step back, re-evaluate, and give more, sacrifice more, go above and beyond ourselves. Wisely direct our passion and conviction towards rightfully electing a trustworthy government, truly believe that our country can still get better, welcome and accept foreign help without condoning exploitation of our people and resources, and nurture what is left of our youth’s idealism. We need to accomplish all these with commitment – unfailing, wholehearted, steadfast commitment. We need to have a firm grip around hope. Because it will be hard and it won’t come easy. We must take it upon ourselves to make the Philippines the sort of country we want to have. We can help remind and inspire one another to be better and wiser citizens. We can also generate and support innovative ideas sprouting in different communities all over the country. In certain places in the Philippines, passionate and dedicated individuals are rising up, heeding the call to serve their fellow Filipinos. Be it for equality in health care, technological advancement in agriculture or the improvement of our small sari-sari stores, there are outstanding individuals pursuing goals bigger than themselves. These individuals – social entrepreneurs as Ashoka would call them – spend their days and nights working towards a better Philippines. With the wisdom of the old and the promise of the new, each one of us can contribute and do our part in rebuilding our country. We were truly a great nation once – our neighboring countries looked to us for ideas and models to improve their own economies. We cannot say the same thing today, but that doesn’t mean that we should just leave. We are responsible for our country and where it is heading. It is not just the government or the elite members of society who have the power to change things for the better. All of us Filipinos are responsible for that change and we are capable of making it. We cannot expect for our country to take care of us if we are not willing to care for it first. This is not a commentary on whether the Filipino diaspora is right or wrong. It is neither entirely one nor the other. But we can take action now to rebuild our country and ourselves as its people. We can take little steps forward until we are home again. *Jo Anne D.P. Villarosa is an intern at Ashoka, a global organization that identifies and invests in leading social entrepreneurs. Jo Anne left the Philippines when she was 16 and is back for good.
How do you make yourself unique in a market that seems saturated? Simple. Offer something the market does not have yet – a blue ocean strategy. Such was the business model of Treena Cueva-Tecson when she thought about what to do after she gave up her full-time marketing and PR career two years ago to be a wife and mom. Born and raised in Bacolod, Treena noted that the chicken inasal sold in Manila does not taste the way it should. “The inasal in Manila are sweet, dry, and not cooked well. I know how inasal should taste like. Ilonggos would really know the authentic taste of inasal,” says Treena. “And the inasal places in Manila sell inasal by the stick (ex.: paa, pecho). No one is selling whole chicken inasal.” Armed with her mom’s recipe, P250,000 in capital, and husband Adrian’s all-out support, Treena worked out the details of Tambokikoy’s—her new inasal business. Tambokikoy is the Ilonggo word for chubby. Treena envisioned it as a take-out place that would sell authentic-tasting whole chicken inasal. Tambokikoy’s chicken inasal is cooked rotisserie-style over charcoal—not electric grill—and chopped two minutes after it is done cooking. “In that way, the juice goes back; it doesn’t dry out,” says Treena. Her pricing strategy is to offer the food items at a price lower than others do. “I want a lot of people to try our inasal, so we made it affordable. It’s a healthier alternative to fried chicken and fried pork chop. Even my daughter Hailey eats it,” adds Treena. Whole chicken is only P199. Half chicken is P100. A quarter chicken with garlic rice goes for P75 (fast-food places offer a small one-piece chicken and rice at a price higher than that). And pork chop with garlic rice is P65. And the market response has been very good. Since Tambokikoy’s started operations this September 1, office people and families have been dropping by to order take out from lunch time until dinner time seven days a week (it’s open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.). It helps that Tambokikoy’s is in a very good location right across the Mandaluyong City Hall on Maysilo Circle, the crossroad to San Juan, Mandaluyong, Makati, and Manila. “I gauge my success with the people who come by,” says Treena. “They’re no longer friends and family. They have heard about Tambokikoy’s from others through word of mouth and from our friends in radio and magazines.” By December, Treena is expecting to hit her return on investment. Franchising inquiries have already started to come in even as Treena says she is not yet ready to franchise. “One of my regular customers said I got the 3Ms: Mabilis, Masarap, at Mura. Fast, Delicious and Affordable. Our satisfaction is in seeing people enjoy our chicken inasal and come back,” says Treena.
By Arnel Paciano Casanova* Happiness perhaps lies in a sense of destiny and the knowledge that one’s existence is inextricably intertwined with something great. Or perhaps, happiness is found in the way we enjoy our life’s journey and not exactly the way we end it. While we all wish that we end on the best note we could ever imagine, the truth is, we do not know how it will be. In the restlessness of my spirit, I found joy in sharing my life and its blessings by being a social entrepreneur. I decided to teach the subject at the Ateneo School of Government. In addition to finance and leadership, I studied Social Entrepreneurship while trying to earn my graduate degree in Harvard under Prof. Gordon Bloom. I met people who shared my own passion. And the thought of solving social problems brought hope to my almost cynical mind. Together with Steve Koon of China and other classmates in Harvard, we founded AvantChange, Ltd. with a vision of promoting social entrepreneurship in Asia to catalyze the formation of critical mass of social entrepreneurs in the region for training, incubation and collaboration. This critical mass of changemakers shall address the diverse and complex social problems in the region. While we were setting up AvantChange, Dean Tony La Vina and Harvey Keh of Ateneo, two people of boundless energy and compassion, were setting up the social entrepreneurship and leadership center in Ateneo. Destiny brought us together when Harvey sought Harvard’s help in putting up the program and Prof. Bloom referred him to AvantChange. A partnership was born. The social entrepreneur’s business is solving social problems. His aim is to change the world to transform it into a more humane place to live. Among others, he has courage to face the challenges of injustice, poverty, oppression, disease and lack of healthcare, environmental degradation. He looks at social problems as opportunities to do good. Muhammad Yunus is the best example of this when he revolutionized the banking industry with his Grameen Bank model. My class is a revelation to me. I see people of all ages and diverse backgrounds come together with such positive expectations to create change. Having an activist background, I observed that people clamoring for change oftentimes do so with fiery rage that eventually consumed them.
Social entrepreneurship is different. It promotes change in an inclusive manner. Its driving force is not a dogma or political ideology. Rather, it is fueled by the hope and dreams for better life in every human being within a nurturing world. In this world we aim to bridge the divide between profit and welfare, between business and philanthropy. We strike the difference between helping as against promoting dependency. We seek to uplift human dignity and self-realization instead of incentivizing poverty. We involve all sectors, organizations and individuals to address the enormity of social ills.We recognize that it would take everyone to make the world better. Our bedrock is ethics. Our tool is innovation. Our mantra is human dignity and compassion. Our work is towards sustainability. It is in our culture to help others. Filipinos are known for our loving care and the warmth of our friendship. We have an abundance of generous people. Our youth are full of energy and hope while our elders are mindful of a lasting legacy that they should leave. In my year of teaching, I found remarkable individuals, corporations and organizations all dedicating time and resources to create positive change. To name a few, we have Dr. Alip of CARD-MRI, Harvey Keh and Solvie Nubla of Pathways to Higher Education, Rev. Javy Alpasa and Reese Fernandez of Rags 2 Riches, Mark Ruiz and Bam Aquino of Hapinoy, Dan Songco of Pinoy ME, and Tony Meloto of Gawad Kalinga. For corporations, we have the likes of SMART, Globe, Jollibee, and Metrobank. Even McKinsey Consulting is involved in providing solutions for corporations to reach those at the base of the pyramid (BOP). It is heartwarming to see corporations competing to serve marginalized sectors better and not solely to generate profit. I am humbled by the innovative ideas of my remarkable students. I am presented with great possibilities such as a solution to secure justice for abused children thru DNA kits (JustDNA), a plan to prevent dengue and malaria with an insect-repellent daily wear--this project is now on its testing stage (Wear n Repel), a proposal to expand information technology (IT) education by harnessing down-time hours in internet cafes, and environmental solutions in biogas and recycling. In Batanes, there’s Dina Abad’s Fina Fundacion, an eco-hotel reminiscent of those sanctuaries overlooking the seas. This eco-venture is now operational. There are also ideas and plans to feed less privileged children with soup (Soup A Day) out of the proceeds from the sales of high-end organic meals and soups to those who can afford. A group of SMART changemakers are also involving themselves with community mentoring to improve the reading skills of young students in partnership with KIDS Foundation and CHEERS. Notebook Reloaded is a movement that aims to provide quality and cheap notebooks to public school children out of recycled ones from more affluent schools; and Angels @ Work is helping a Gawad Kalinga community’s livelihood projects by connecting them with the market and providing organizational management. As I move around the country promoting this new approach to changing society, the sense of hopelessness that once burdened my tired spirit has been vanquished. In its place, a new hope gushes forth and I am once again possessed with the joy of pursuing a dream--a dream of achieving a more humane capitalism which believes that there could be an economy where the efficiency of capital is a function of ethics; where labor productivity is a function of the level of human dignity that the laborers possess; and a sense of realization that earth’s resources are finite such that there is a deliberate intent to nurture the balance of nature for the common good. *Arnel is the lead faculty of the Ateneo de Manila-School of Government Social Entrepreneurship Training Program for Professionals. The 3rd Social Entrepreneurship Training Program for Professionals starts on November 15 (until March 14, 2009), every Saturday from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Ateneo Professional Schools. For more details about this program, please contact Ms. Cristyl Senajon at 4265657.
AT 50, while other people her age would be at the top of their game in their chosen career, Fil-Am Diana Limjoco ventured into the unknown. It was 1998 then, and web development was something new. But there was something about it that interested Diana since her friend, out of frustration, sat her down and forced her to learn web design from him in two hours. Her friend was frustrated that Diana lacked the interest to exhibit her photographs at art galleries. Diana was a professional photographer then. Since that lesson, Diana was hooked. She first made a website about her family, the Limjocos. Then she made a site for her town, Mt. Shasta in California, pro bono as a form of public service. More websites followed, such as www.batangasnow.com, a website showcasing the beauty of Batangas, her home province. Then in 2002, she went into e-commerce by helping her friend Dave Dewbre sell products online. With Diana’s SEO skills, the site became number 1 in all keyword categories within one week, and generated 1,500 in orders in one day. Today, Diana and Dave run Digital Web Group, Inc. which builds and maintains websites, and provides e-commerce support and web hosting, among other things. They also run successful retail stores and eBay auction stores. They are also establishing a partnership with a Filipino entrepreneur who sells environment-friendly electric motor bikes. Diana is the president and CFO of the company. Diana relocated to the Philippines a few years ago. Last November 7, GoNegosyo named her Most Inspiring Entrepreneur for MicroBusiness for the province of Batangas. The award was given by Batangas governor Vilma Santos and Mayor Dimacuha at ceremonies held at the Batangas Provincial Auditorium. Diana acknowledges that she was a late bloomer in engaging in online entrepreneurship. She is now 60 years old, but is still going strong and successful in her business endeavors. Asked what she can advise young and aspiring entrepreneurs, Diana says: “The best advice I can give is not to give up, and to believe in what you are doing. If you can make money doing something you love, all the better. Get the right team together that you do not have to micromanage to help with your growth. The idea of ‘if you want something done right, do it yourself’ is perhaps for carpenters, not for trying to grow a sustainable business venture that will last beyond you. If you create an organization and it folds after you are gone, then you have failed to empower people to carry on after you, which is of course my goal in all things I do.” Diana is now in the process of creating a mentor program for the Digital Web Group. This will pave the way for young entrepreneurs online. She also started Powerlinked, a network community for entrepreneurs, to help guide new entrepreneurs in their business journey. Photo above shows Congressman Nicanor Briones, Batangas Governor Vilma Santos, and online entrepreneur and GoNegosyo Awardee Diana Limjoco.
Photo by JANUS VICTORIA by Aina Lim* In Filipino, we call her ‘nanay’. Millions of women in the Philippines, in the countryside and in the cities keep to their homes where they know exactly what they ought to be: mothers, the light of the family. Till recently, few would expect these women to earn, much less be the instruments out of their family’s poverty. But 22 years ago, with a dream to help the poorest in our country, Dr. Aris Alip put his faith in these women and founded CARD: Center for Agriculture and Rural Development. From years of work in Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), Dr. Alip and his colleagues had identified the country’s poorest as those without assets and access to banks and basic services. They also believed that until these people obtained capital to acquire something of their own, they were powerless to improve their lives and rise out of poverty. Thus, CARD was born on the principle of lending money -what we now call microcredit - to the poor. What started as a small operation is now the country’s largest microfinance institution: CARD MRI (Mutually Reinforcing Institutions), recipient of the 2008 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service. And as was Dr. Alip’s vision, CARD Bank is now substantially owned and managed by the poor. CARD’s beneficiaries are women from both cities and the countryside. They are organized into groups called Centers, where they gather and are educated on values, business, and current affairs. Before getting loans, the women must know what business they will engage in. Nanays might turn to handicrafts, raising livestock, growing vegetables, or running a sari-sari store. The first loan may amount to P2-3 thousand, to be paid over six months to a year. When this loan has been paid, a nanay can graduate to a bigger loan. As her business grows, CARD increases the amount available to her. Payment collection is strict business, done weekly by CARD’s loan officers during meetings. On the flipside, Dr. Alip says, “We can be very mean about microfinance, but when help is needed, we are very human.” When there’s a natural calamity or death in the family, there’s immediate moratorium on payments. Relief, shelter, and hospitalization are provided for by the CARD Mutual Benefit Association. In the case of business failure, help is extended through additional loans and business mentoring. “When a business fails, CARD is sad because we haven’t done our part. Our business is not to provide loans, but ultimately to alleviate poverty,” says Dr. Alip. Indeed, CARD’s business goes beyond lending. “There is life after microfinance,” says Dr. Alip. CARD would like the nanays to move past the level of microentrepreneur, into that of SMEs, if possible. To provide channels for members to scale up, CARD Business Development Services has partnered with business solutions provider, Microventures, Inc. (MVI), to expand the nanays’ network and distribution channels. Borrowing the concept of a ‘7-11 in the countryside’, CARD and MVI have created a sari-sari store chain through the HAPINOY Store brand. The dream is to have a hundred thousand HAPINOY sari-sari stores owned and run by nanays throughout the country. Not all nanays will expand their businesses, though. Many use their profits to send their children to school. Here is where Dr. Alip sees the power of education and how the second generation of CARD beneficiaries can bring their families out of poverty. “We now have several thousand nurses, teachers, accountants, engineers, bankers, agriculturists… Soon we’ll have lawyers. We have children who’ve graduated from the military. Hopefully, we’ll have generals soon,” says Dr. Alip. The children finish school, tell their mothers to stop working, and take over the family responsibility. Roughly, it takes three to five years to bring a family out of poverty, five to eight years to stabilize, and another five years to bring them to the next level so they don’t slide back into poverty. But looking at CARD’s nanays, they are happy and hopeful. It is amazing to see these women so empowered. By 2010, CARD hopes to serve a million nanays and their families. In terms of making a difference, that is no small number. (For more information on CARD MRI, you may visit www.cardbankph.com.) *Aina is a student of Ateneo School of Government Social Entrepreneurship Training Program at the Ateneo Professional Schools.
“Wow, ang saya dito ah! Sana kanina pa tayo nandito.” (Hey, it’s fun here! We should have been here earlier.) Such was the comment of my nephew yesterday afternoon when we went to Holy Cross Memorial Park in Novaliches, Quezon City. It was already November 2, All Souls’ Day, and although most Filipinos flock to the cemeteries on November 1 (All Saints’ Day) to visit the graves of their dead family members, still a lot of people went that day. Proof was that it was bumper-to-bumper traffic on the way to Holy Cross yesterday afternoon, and even inside the memorial park, it took 30 minutes to drive from the gate to the mausoleum area. There were thousands of people in the memorial park, and while most of them brought baon, a lot of them also checked out the various food stalls nearby. We spotted kiosks of Andok’s, Shakey’s, Greenwich, Mr. Softy ice cream, Seattle’s Best, Zagu, and even TGI Friday’s. There were also siomai stalls, barbeque stalls, and so much more spread all over the park. My nephews and nieces had their own ‘gimik’ checking out the food stalls. Shakey’s even went out of their way to send out their staff to ask people if they want some pizza delivered right at their, er, family gravesite. My mother ordered pizza, gave her senior’s ID (for the senior citizen’s discount), then received the pizza piping hot in 30 minutes. These food companies knew that the market would be at the cemeteries that weekend, and made preparations to be right there. “On the practical side of things, each (food chain) branch has a certain sales target to achieve so each will try to tap into each and every sales avenue,” says marketing professional Arlyn Onte, MBA graduate of De La Salle University and faculty member of DLSU-College of St. Benilde. “It is imperative for every branch to have its market scan inasmuch as a branch situated beside a church should adjust its manpower based on the church schedule, or a food kiosk beside a cinema should be ready when people come out of the theater, so events such as November 1 should be anticipated. Convenience is the key. One can no longer expect the consumer to walk to your store. You should be where the consumer is.” Do you want to increase your sales? Go where the market is.