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.