Poverty Leads Her To Be Aurora’s Sabutan Queen
She took harsh realities positively and vowed to fight poverty. Almost everybody seems to dream of a better future for their families and for others who were less fortunate. Ironically, only few are taking the right steps to attain it. One of those who courageously fought poverty and defied her limitations as a woman is Consuelo G. Valenzuela of Baler, Aurora.

Consuelo or Baby is the 11th of 15 siblings. Her parents had a hard time nurturing them because of scarcity of livelihood opportunities in their place and obviously because of their family size.

Common to many countryside dwellers, Baby was also confronted by many hardships in life during her youth. She tearfully recalled how she stood up for herself at an early age. She was once a working student and a house help.

Determined to reach her dreams, Baby pursued her studies and worked hard to receive a diploma.

From the poignant events in her life, she took those difficulties positively. As she examined how to improve their economic situation, she came up with a brilliant idea: to utilize and develop what is abundant in their place. Instantly, only one thing looked golden to her- sabutan.

Sabutan is a tree that is comparable to pandan (a palm-like plant used as food aroma), the only difference is that the sabutan's leaves were smaller and have thorns on its edges. Sabutan is used for different hand-woven products like fans, mattresses, bags, boxes and hats among others.

Weaving is one of the primary sources of income in Baler. Unable to finish college, Baby decided to focus on developing products out of sabutan in 2002. She had only 10 weavers then.

In order to have a good location of her store, she "re-activated" their organization called AYEMCO (Aurora Youth Entrepreneur Multi-Purpose Cooperative) and was able to utilize their office which was strategically located in the public market of Baler.

Together with three other members, they decided to renovate the office and allocated a showroom where they can display their products. But capital problem confronted Baby which brought her to ASKI Baler branch office in 2004. Surprisingly, she learned that ASKI also provides business consultancy and marketing.

"It's different at ASKI, it is not like other lending company whose only concern is what they can get. ASKI's main concern is to help their clients," says Baby. It is through ASKI that Baby's idea was opened for bigger business. She was able to attend different trainings and trade fairs. The learnings from which greatly boost the sales of her products. She also networked with other small entrepreneurs where she gets raw materials needed in producing other items.

After two years with ASKI, there was a remarkable changes in her business, her hardwork and diligence paid off. She now has 25-30 regular weavers within their community.

More blessings also poured in to Baby, one of which was the award given to her as the Microentrepreneur of the Year award in 2006 by Citi. She also qualified to be a recipient of a training from Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women that "provides business and management education to underserved female entrepreneurs in developing and emerging markets."

Her motivation to continue despite difficulties is her town folks, "I don't want to see out of-school youth, I would just tell them to come to my house so that they would earn even just a little," she shared.

Baby plans to put up a three-storey one-stop-shop in Barangay Reserva where she can display souvenir items for the tourists. She is also eyeing to put up a gasoline station.

Asked what advice she can give to her fellow entrepreneurs, Baby has this to say, "You should show what you've got. Trust in the Lord and believe in yourself. Life's challenges are there to mold you and not to destroy you; use it as an inspiration for you to move up to the ladder of success."
"You should show what you've got. Trust in the Lord and believe in yourself. Life's challenges are there to mold you and not to destroy you; use it as an inspiration for you to move up to the ladder of success."
© Copyright. Alalay Sa Kaunlaran(ASKI), Incorporated
All Rights Reserved 2013
Designed by: iSynergies, Inc 2013