December 10, 2018
Coffee farmer, processor wins 2018 Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards
Estrella Balnao, a client of Alalay Sa Kaunlaran Microfinance Social Development, Inc. from Tabuk City, Kalinga engaged into coffee farming and processing won the Special Award for Agri Micro-Business during the 2018 Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards held at the Metropolitan Museum, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on December 7, 2018.

As a young girl, Estrella used to work in coffee farms in Tabuk City, Kalinga. In 2010, Estrella and her family decided to start their own farming business using the six hectares land that they own. A few years later, as she was looking for ways to upgrade her business operations, Estrella came across Alalay sa Kaunlaran, Inc. which first loaned her P50, 000. With additional funds to purchase an electronic roasting machine. Estrella could now increase- and speed up her production.

Coffee is a common product in Kalinga, but her more advanced processing puts her products at an advantage. With the help of her daughter, she has established social media presence through Facebook page Mountain Kalinga Coffee. Estrella is always eager to learn, especially at government-sponsored training and trade fairs. Her product packaging was largely enhanced through the help of the Department of Trade and Industry. She plans to build an indoor processing facility someday and convert the second floor into a coffee shop to cater to tourist frequenting the area all year round.

Mr. Philip Delos Santos, her account officer and ASKI Mallig Branch were also recognized during the event. Sharing the award with another winner, Estrella received P50,000 cash prize, one-year life and health insurance coverage, laptop and will receive IT and entrepreneurship training. She will also be feted at celebratory town halls in her hometown.

Now on its 16th year, the CMA recognizes the exceptional microentrepreneurs in the country who through sheer hard work and perseverance were able to realize their dreams. The CMA is being supported by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Citi Foundation and the Microfinance Council of the Philippines. The CMA aims to promote the important role of microfinance in employment generation and poverty reduction by showcasing the achievements of successful Filipino microentrepreneurs.
Mrs. Estrella Balnao and Mr. Philip Delos Santos, her project officer receives their award from former Philippine Daily Inquirer Chairperson and one of CMA's board of judges Marixi Prieto .
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