From the Sea to the School

Rodgen in Class.jpg

Rodgen Luciaja, a pastor’s kid, set his eyes on crossing the sea and earning it big like many young Filipino seamen. He studied hard and finished a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering. However, things did not work out as planned. His contract did not push through. After so many broken promises by his agency, he got discouraged. He stopped applying in Manila, an inhospitable place for a provincial boy like him. 

Rodgen’s dreams were simple—finish college, get married, raise kids, and get his kids to college. He grew up poor. He has many poor friends. No wonder that he wants to help the poor as much as he can. He decided to give his best in whatever job he lands.

He was a driver in a rent-a-car business. Then Rodgen worked as a collector in  a hardware store for 5 years. He performed sales jobs. He sold cell phone “load” to as many customers he could find. A cell load is a prepaid electronic reloading product that reloads a mobile phone with a retailer’s SIM card by entering the mobile number and choosing the amount to be loaded. In a country which is considered the text capital of the world, electronic reloading has a very big market of cell phone users. H made money in his growing business for 5 years. However, his budding retail business was cut short by cell phone companies that hired their own sales teams. He shifted to contracting sand and gravel delivery to dealers and construction companies on a commission basis. The road to success was paved with sharp stones and thorns.

Then a window of opportunity opened up for Rodgen and his wife. An elementary school of 200 students needed a canteen provider. Can he supply the food and manage the cafeteria?  He grabbed the opportunity and it has been doing well to this day.

He heard about a business training that was to be held in his hometown. He attended the training conducted by DBA Philippines with the intention to equip himself with a system that could help him grow his canteen. Years before, he learned new skills in a government run school. But he wasn’t trained in entrepreneurship. The training opened his eyes. There, he learned about the essential steps in starting a business and about forecasting revenue, operating costs, and a break-even point and managing cash flow. He didn’t regret a minute of it. He finished his business plan and  applied for a loan for the purpose of growing his small cafeteria and was granted it! He’s praying for heaven’s blessing upon his untiring efforts. From his vantage point, the future looks positive.

Supported by Pigs

Julius in Class.jpg

Julius Campo was raised in a brood of 6 children. His father worked for a copper mining company in Toledo City, Cebu. A work-related accident caused his untimely death, which triggered untold economic difficulties to his wife and children. With a meager pension, Julius’ mother, a jobless housewife, tried to make ends meet by raising hogs, fattening sow, and selling piglets. The burden was on the shoulders of Julius, the eldest of them all, who was 19 years old when his father died. He had to wake up early, study hard, finish all chores, and sleep late every day.     

Life was hard. But the pig business helped pay for the family’s daily needs and school tuition. Julius’ mother felt indescribable joy when all her children finished high school. Three siblings were able to finish college and the other 3 finished vocational courses. In a way, the pig business supported their livelihood through those crucial years.        

Julius knows how to fatten sow and raise pigs very well, having spent 10 years of his young life there. Sensing the call of the Lord, he went to Bible College and earned a degree there. After graduation, he planted new churches in the provincial towns of Cebu for many years. But the pay was low at Php 300.00 ($6.00) per week in those days. He and his wife had a child to feed. So he went into weaving rattan to augment his limited income. He was paid Php 100.00 ($2.00) per unit by an agent of an export company. He had to do tedious jobs here and there to provide for his young family. 

One day, Julius decided to join a entrepreneurship training sponsored by DBA Philippines  in how to start his own business. There he learned how to select a business idea, make a budget, and meet customer needs. He learned the value of savings and profit and loss. He selected a business idea that was special to him—sow fattening. He prepared a business plan. He estimated that sow breeding and growing a herd will give him more profits in the long term.

Julius wants to start a piggery business to save some money for the college education of his kids. He also intends to support needy pastors. He’s been there and done that, and still do, and he’d like to give his share to others. He believes that with determination, discipline, and hard work, he can accomplish greater things for a greater cause by the grace of God.

Never Say Die, Diana

Diana and Mangos.jpg

Diana dropped out of school as she had to feed her family as a higher priority. She and her husband raised 2 kids, until her husband left her in mid-life. Running out of options, she tried to grab what was available for her. She got a job in a t-shirt business, sewing and sketching patterns. After 2 years, she worked as a waitress and food handler. While working, she would cook finger foods and sell it to friends and co-workers. Yet money was tight. It couldn’t provide for her kids. She decided to try her luck abroad. She left her 2 kids with a friend in Manila. 

Like all overseas Filipino workers, working abroad brought tuition money for Diana’s kids and food on the table. She was able to buy the nicer things in life that she liked while sending some money back home. Looking back, Diana thinks that the nicest experience in her life was the love she received from her employers in Japan. They treated her so well in a way that Diana hadn’t experienced before. It was all good while it lasted. To Diana’s credit, she maintained close communication with her children though far away until she decided to go home for good.   

Diana got back to being a waitress while cooking and selling food as a sideline. Her food business provided for her family. She cooked delicious food that attracted many loyal customers. Then it happened. Her daughter started to resent her. Somehow, Diana neglected her. She no longer gave her the time and love that she so desperately wanted from her mother. She learned a valuable lesson during those years. Time spent with her children is worth more than any other.

A friend invited her to Bible study one day. She heard how the sacrificing love of Jesus was a gift for her too. She decided to trust Christ and follow Him. Knowing more about God shifted her perspective, changed her values, and re-oriented her priorities in life. 

One day Diana decided to attend a business training being taught by DBA Philippines. In her 50s, she believed that she should keep learning. In class, she learned how to generate new business ideas, how to ensure good cash flow, and how to make more profit. She made a business plan that matches her skills and work experience—cooking and selling food items. She realized that she can make money in ways that can help people and honor God. 

Nowadays Diana plans to do packed meals and make food delicacies such as ube jam, achara, etc. The photo above shows her selling hard mangos (the kids love them). She aims to succeed in her food business so she can help her daughter and grandchildren. She has this “never say die” attitude. If it will grow her food business, she’s willing to try it, plan it, and sell it.

The Abled Disabled

Denver's Business Diagram.jpg

Denver was born with polio. He grew up disabled and found it difficult to run with the neighborhood kids. Yet Denver Sinay did not allow his disability to discourage him from studying until he finished college. He finished his Bachelor of Science in Information Technology. But it was not easy for him to get a job because employers couldn’t see past his disability.

A positive attitude and perseverance lead him to a new job. Denver recalls that that employer did not look at his disability, but his capability. The company was into software development. He worked there for 2 years and was transferred to Manila. There, he worked for a company manufacturing and exporting fashion accessories. For 4 years, the company saved on costs because it paid him doing 2 jobs for the cost of 1—systems administration and warehouse management. Yet it wasn’t meant to last. The company shifted to another business and laid him off.

After years of doing odd jobs, Denver started an internet cafe. He had about 20 customers per day paying a modest fee, but it was encouraging. The money was coming in. It was not much, but it provided for his young family. The problem then became how to grow the business.

He was encouraged him to attend a entrepreneurship training offered by DBA Philippines. He attended with many questions in mind. Slowly, he learned where to invest his capital and how to compute for profit, minimize costs, and handle a positive cash flow. 

As part of the training, Denver completed a business plan and secured a loan and a coach to help him grow his business. He plans to add more personal computers and open a new internet station in another location. He wants his family to continue to trust him in his business decisions. It may sound trite, but for someone who grew up feeling less than normal, trust is paramount.

Denver is thankful that though his faith and the business relationship with Divine Business Appointments, he has a hope for the future. He continues to have the passion to find solutions to the challenges before him. He wants to do what most able people would not do. He wants to rise above himself.

Rebecca’s Rag Making “Factory”

Rebecca's Factory.JPG
Rebecca's Products.jpg

The minimum wage in the Philippines is about 300 pesos per day ($6.67). Rebecca and her daughter have been in the rag making business for the last several years to supplement the family income. Her husband makes a modest wage, but it is a struggle to make ends meet for their family of four. Rebecca came to our Start Your Business class with a great attitude and big smile. She took to the financial exercises like a duck to water. Our Exercise 31 is calculating profit and loss. She had completed the previous 30 exercises, which included fixed and variable costs, and other financial concepts. We were all enthusiastic about the end results. All of a sudden, her face clouded up and tears appeared in her eyes. When asked what happened, she spoke in a soft sad voice that the exercises showed that she had been making 390 pesos a month for the last several years (about $8.67 month)!!! She was devastated that she’d worked so hard for so little.

Her DBA instructors and classmates rolled up their sleeves and vowed to make “lemonade out of lemons.” Rebecca told us that if she had an electric sewing machine, she could produce many more rags and make some good money. We embarked on a revised plan with the electric sewing machine. The profits and cash flows looked good!! Rebecca was getting excited again. And then the bottom fell out. Our hearts broke when we found out that she doesn’t even have electricity wired into her modest house.

Undaunted, Rebecca and her instructors came up with another alternative. By adding additional higher margin products like pot holders and door mats to her rag production, she could she could produce a significantly higher income.

The pictures document our recent visit to Rebecca’s modest home (a 50 square foot structure… no, this is not a typo). We asked her what has changed since she attended our class. She was thrilled to report that she no longer was having to borrow money from the loan sharks (20% interest per month), because of what she learned in class. She was positive cash flow and making more than she was before our training. She is planning to have electricity in her home in the next few months. And the good news is that the “manual” sewing machine she owns has an electric motor… it’s really an electric sewing machine that she has been using manually. So when her electricity is installed, she can really ramp up!