May 02, 2017
From dependents to micro business owners: families of OFWs now earning here at home, thanks to Citi Foundation and ASKI partnership
Entrepreneurship is one of the backbones of the Philippine economy. Through entrepreneurship, individuals are not only uplifting their family's lives; they are also creating jobs for the community, thus also helping others while contributing to our economy.

Some of the most inspiring success stories in the country actually come from micro and small entrepreneurs. Many if not all of them started from literally almost nothing, and yet were able to fight poverty and overcome hardship through their businesses.

The success stories of these microentrepreneurs showcase a growing movement of individuals recognizing their own entrepreneurial talents and mobilizing social capital with innovative and competitive approaches for microentrepreneurship.

Against this backdrop, ASKI approached Citi Foundation for a partnership designed to support families of overseas workers. Through the Promoting Financial Capability and Entrepreneurship with Families of Migrant Workers' program, the partners sought to equip the family-members of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Singapore with financial education, and encourage them to build or grow their savings and start businesses using microcredit.

"Citi has been one of the staunch supporters of ASKI in the implementation of the training on financial education for migrant workers and their families back home. Aside from helping the OFWs establish an enterprise to be managed by their families in the home country, we would also like to contribute in job generation and family reunification. The latter is one of the social objectives close to the heart of ASKI - seeing some OFWs deciding to go back home for good and manage their own microenterprises," said Rolando B. Victoria, ASKI executive director.

"For years, Citi Foundation and ASKI supported many OFWs in Singapore with financial education and entrepreneurship training, equipping them with knowledge and skills that will give them a better chance at succeeding as business owners when they eventually go home," related Aneth Ng-Lim, Citi's Corporate Citizenship Director in the Philippines. "This program is a natural outcome of that partnership. We decided not to wait until the OFW comes home, but to reach out to their family members and empower them with the same financial education, coaching for entrepreneurship as well as access to micro loans to grow or launch businesses."

Citi Foundation believes that access to capital and financial products empowers adults and young people to build financial assets, enables entrepreneurs to grow or launch businesses that create jobs, and helps community-based organizations to strengthen and transform communities. ASKI has enjoyed the support of Citi Foundation since 2012 with the Citi-ASKI Overseas Workers Financial Stability program, and now with the Promoting Financial Capability and Entrepreneurship with Families of Migrant Workers' program.

From this latest partnership, we share inspiring stories of five exemplary clients who underwent the training program and started or expanded their respective businesses.

Raul Dela Cruz: From motorcycle driver to baker

Raul is a motorcycle driver from Dagupan, Pangasinan. He set up a bakery to support his wife Lea who is an OFW in Singapore. The bakery is currently earning Php 3,000 - Php 5,000 (US$100 to US$140) monthly as of this writing.

The lack of opportunities in the country leads many Filipinos to go out of the country - most of the time alone and with uncertainty of having a good and stable job. Sometimes, OFWs will spend years of working and endure separation from their family yet when they get back home for good, they don't have money or business to start with and go on living.

This reality woke up Raul. He didn't let his OFW wife Lea to be alone in supporting their family and other relatives.

With his determination to help his wife, Raul signed up for financial education from the Citi and ASKI program, which has changed his practice in spending money. He is now able to save and determine what they really need to buy. "Noon hindi ako nakakapag-ipon, ngayon nakakapag-ipon na ko. Tumatanda na tayo, kailangan maging handa (Before I was not able to save, but now I am able to save money. We are getting older and we need to prepare for the future)," Raul said.

On top of growing his savings, he applied for a Php 60,000 (US$1,200) loan and started a business. Without any background in establishing a bakery and not even knowing how to bake - he decided to buy an oven and try his hand at baking, after seeing the potential demand in his neighborhood.

Raul proved that in achieving success, a person needs to take a bold step and work hard. Baking was not his skill but now he strives to make the perfect dough to produce the most delicious bread that he can offer for his wife and say that she's not alone.

Justin Marie Brudo: Vegetable trading bears fruit

After training with ASKI, Justin decided to become a vegetable trader - sourcing from farmers and reselling to consumers - since October 2015. Her estimated daily income is Php 1,000 -Php 1,500 (US$20 to US$30) as of April 2017.
Vegetable planting was the main source of income for Justin and her family. They rely on income from every harvest season to support their three kids with their daily needs and education.

Yet life's favor does not always flow for them. There were times that their crops were devastated by typhoon or infested by pest leaving them with nothing but debts.

Most of the time, their harvest and supplies are insufficient due to lack of enough capital. This led Justin to get a loan from ASKI and use it as an additional capital. With the Php 10,000 (US$200) she borrowed, she ventured into the trading business, buying vegetables in bulk and re-selling at the market.

Since vegetable trading is a seasonal business, she also explored wallets and bag making using beads to augment the family's income. This gives her additional earning of Php400 (US$8) bag and Php25-Php30 (US$ 0.5- US$ 0.6) for wallets and pouches.

Justin is thankful to her OFW mother Rosalinda, who has been working for 16 years in Singapore, when the latter recommended her to undergo training financial education and basic entrepreneurship training program through the CITI-ASKI partnership. She shared that she has learned valuable lessons that she used to improve her financial position. "Di kagaya noon na bili dito, bili doon. Ngayon, natuto na ako (Before I used to things without thinking if I needed them. Now I have learned to do better)," she said.

With her knowledge on budgeting, saving, and how to allot money wisely put to use, Justin now earns enough and said she is able to get what they need. Their sacrifices to get up every 2 o'clock early in the morning to deliver vegetables are no longer in vain.

Jesiebel Herminigildo: Banana Chips Bring Sweet Success

Jesiebel from Dipaculao, Aurora established her Banana Chips Processing business in July 2014. She now earns P8,000-10,000 (US$160 to US$200) per month, reported as of April 2017.

Her business created employment by sourcing out the raw materials from 20 banana farmers in the community. They also formed a women's group in the community processing banana chips. They can process 18 kilos of banana every week or more if there are bulk orders especially in schools in the nearby towns.

Since there is a shortage of banana due to the recent typhoon that hit the community, she is now into processing of root crops like purple yam and taro since they have good supply at the moment. She availed of Php 30,000 (US$600) loan from ASKI and used it to buy raw materials/ingredients in her new venture. She employs three regular workers and two part-time workers.

When she received a financial education and basic entrepreneurship training program from the CITI-ASKI partnership, she learned how to manage her savings properly and invest for the future. "Malaking bagay po yung naging bahagi ng ASKI. Nagpapasalamat ako dahil naging daan sila kung ano man ang mayroon ako ngayon. (I owe a great deal to ASKI and I am very thankful to them)," Jesiebel said. She is also grateful to Alma Larica, her OFW relative in Singapore, in opening up to her the opportunity to learn new things that can improve her business and maximize her potentials as entrepreneur.

At present, she is the president of Rural Improvement Club in Dipaculao Aurora, where she handles 35 members from the community that serves as her partners in the business. The banana sweet chips business of Jesiebel is now reaching local market in Baler, Dipaculao, and other offices and schools in Aurora.

Melinda Salud: Building A Brighter Future with her Furniture Business

Melinda hails from Amulung, Cagayan. She continued a furniture business which she inherited from her parents. She is now earning a net income of Php 5,000- Php10,000 (US$100 to US$200) per month (from Php2,000 to Php3,000 back in 2014 or before our intervention).

As a single parent to her ten-year old child, Melinda struggled to provide for her daughter's needs which led her to try her hand at entrepreneurship, even while keeping a full time job with the government.

She is also grateful to her OFW aunt Carla Egarta, who along with her family, are always ready to lend her support. They provide assistance to Melinda same as ASKI who supports Melinda by giving her credit amounting Php 50,000 loan that serve as an additional capital for her furniture business that she and her parents are managing.

Another favour came across to Melinda's life, by being chosen as one of the clients for the financial literacy and basic entrepreneurship training program of Citi and ASKI. "I am very thankful because considering our geographical location (around 450 kilometers distance and 10-11 hours travel time), they did not hesitate to go and train us," Melinda said.

Dionisio Ines Jr.: Farming His Way to Success

Dionisio from Pozzorubio, Pangasinan is a farmer-at-heart. He has been engaged in rice farming since 2011. During that time, he was only earning Php20,000- Php30,000 (US$400 to US$600) per cropping. With his ASKI loan, he expanded to purchase farm inputs and other needs, and has doubled his earnings to P40,000 to P50,000 (US$400 to US$600) per cropping.

Dionisio's wife has been working abroad for 15 years and still their income is not enough. They decided to till a one-hectare land and started planting rice. After his financial education and entrepreneurship training, Dionisio got a P10,000 loan in September 2016 from ASKI that he used to purchase farm inputs and other needs.

Now, Dionisio's budget for a month is enough to cover his monthly expenses. He did not renew his loan since he earned Php 80,000 (US$1,600) from his last harvest. He intends to use his profit to finance his farming activities. Aside from rice, Dionisio now ventures into corn production and is expected to get good yields.

Dionisio is also setting a portion of his income with a hope that one day, his wife abroad would finally go home for good and they'll be able to spend time together.
Clients Raul Dela Cruz, Justin Marie Brudo, Jesiebel Herminigildo, Melinda Salud and Dionisio Ines Jr.
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