Impoverished women turned entrepreneurs share inspiring stories

Wives who turned their lives around through resourcefulness and creativity were picked the top winners in a search for the best small-scale women entrepreneurs in Mandaue City.

A mother of five who successfully balanced child-rearing and her snacks business to augment the family income was adjudged the grand prize winner of the 2013 Search for WINNERS (Women in Need Now Entrepreneurs and Role Models) during Tuesday’s coronation night.

Hazel del Castillo of Barangay Cambaro, Mandaue City, Cebu won P50,000 in cash, among other prizes, which she plans to use to expand and diversify her snacks business.

Winners of the search for the woman in need with the best entrepreneurship attitude and story: top placer Hazel del Castillo (3rd from L), first runner-up Lourdes M. Badilles (4th from L), second runner-up Winnie Sicad (2nd from L), and Most Promising Teresita A. Adrias, who is a puso vendor.

Always on the lookout for ways to improve her food-related enterprise, Hazel said she surfs the web for how-tos and tips and plans to use what she has learned to empower other women in need.

“Pasalamat ko sa training gipahigayon ngadto sa Search for W.I.N.N.E.R.S. contestants. Magamit gyud ni nako sa paghatag pud ug training sa ubang kababayen-an sa Cambaro,” she told contest judges chaired by Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale. (I’m thankful for the trainings given to contest participants. I will use what I’ve learned to also teach other women in Cambaro.) Hazel’s five children, which she tutors, are all honor students.

The vice governor lauded the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) for organizing the search, which is on its third year, and said she hoped other towns and cities in Cebu would hold similar contests. The event is one of the activities of Mandaue Business Month 2013.

Search for WINNERS 2013 chair Carmel de Pio Salvador said it is a unique pageant because poise and grace are not primary considerations but the tears, pain, and sweet victories of the women entrepreneurs.

Knowing hardships early on in life yet never giving up although she had once been tempted, Lourdes M. Batilles said her dream since she was young had been to get a college education.

She achieved this, graduating with an education degree and passing the licensure examinations for teachers, and much, much more. Lourdes won P30,000 in cash and other prizes when she was picked first runner-up in Tuesday’s coronation night.

Lourdes remembered suffering very early in life, when her father passed away and her mother remarrying a man who disliked them, and managing to survive by living with her grandmother and selling anything she could get her hands on – from candies to newspapers.

“Patan-awon lang mi sa among stepfather while he and my mother and their only child feasted on the table,” she narrated. It pained her that her siblings couldn’t have a decent meal while they were with her mother and she was determined to get them and she did it though it took years amid very painful struggles.

She said that from her earnings of P1,300 a week from selling foodstuff, she managed to save enough to open a sari-sari store. Her enterprise grew that she was able to repair their house in Barangay Subangdaku that the neighbors once called a pig sty and brought her siblings to live there with her.

Rounding up the top three is a woman in a man’s business.

Winnie Sicad, a 36-year-old mother of four, experienced such hardship when her husband, the primary breadwinner as a mechanic, fell ill she had to give up one of her children to a relative.

Wanting to make her family whole and ensure they’d never go through that again drove Winnie to enterprise. She started out small by selling banana cue and using the P1,000 she saved to diversify and sell other food.

Bigger savings meant bigger opportunities and Winnie and her husband started buying motor parts and repairing and reselling them. They also started providing motorcycle services like changing engine oil and repairing flat tires.

Winnie said it was her husband who did these services until such time when his leg got swollen and he couldn’t walk. At that time, there was a customer who wants the engine oil of his motorcycle changed.

Out of necessity, Winnie who had seen her husband do it so many times performed the service and was hooked ever since. She has learned many things about their services and could perform many if not all of them.

Since their motor assembly business is now their source of livelihood, Winnie said she deals with scrap motorcycle parts daily and is learning help her husband with the assembly parts aside from taking care of household chores and other domestic duties.

She said she has since gotten her son back and her children are now all in school. Winnie, whose true passion is singing, has grown enough self confidence that she now sings once in a while with a band at well-known hotel. As third prize winner, Winnie received P20,000 in cash and other prizes.

MCCI president Philip Tan said when they started the search, they never thought it would become this big.

“It just shows that anything you do for the greater good always prospers. I urge the winners to pay it forward, help other women, and make a difference in their communities,” he pointed out.

MBM 2013 chair Romelinda Garces said the women deserve congratulations, adding she is both proud and humbled by their stories and by the strengths they possess.

“The winning attitude is always puede (I can). Work on your skills, rise from being common, find a way to make your business different,” she told the women.

Marlen Limpag

Marlen is a co-founder of journalism start-up InnoPub Media, a company involved in e-books production and the data tagging of heritage and tourism sites in the Philippines through QR or quick response codes. She is a pioneer in community online journalism and managed the website operations of Sun.Star Network Online, the website of the Sun.Star chain of community newspapers for 10 years.

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