Saturday, October 17, 2015

LSE alumni receive WIMLER Recognition Awards for implementing their business plans

Hong Kong - Seventeen graduates from batches 2012, 2013 and 2014 – five teams and an individual - will receive certificates of recognition from WIMLER Foundation Hong Kong for implementing the business plans they presented during the Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship training program. The award recognizes the dedication, perseverance, and commitment of those who pursued their dreams. The awarding of certificates will be held on October 18 during the first LSE Alumni Hong Kong reunion in Repulse Bay.

The awardees this year are: WOW Spa and Beauty Salon, Waffle Express, Passi Balik-sa-Bayan, Inc, Spa Kalusugan /Sanctuaryo Beauty and Wellness Training Center, Lucky’s Panganan, and Lingap Galing Cleaning Consultants. While the business plans were mostly submitted by teams, WIMLER observes that in some cases a member of the team is the one who actually implemented the business plans but with the full support from other team members.  In view of this, WIMLER also recognizes the team members for their contribution.

The business plans are aimed at enhancing the participants’ skills and knowhow in starting a social enterprise. If properly implemented, the business could help their eventual return and reintegration in the Philippines. Since LSE was introduced in Hong Kong three years ago, 158 Filipino migrant workers and some Filipino residents in Hong Kong have already graduated and presented a total of 65 business plans. Those who are interested in implementing their business plans receive mentoring and coaching.

To find out how the business plans are faring, WIMLER HK issued a call to all alumni to submit descriptions of their respective businesses. Proofs such as business permit, SEC registration, and pictures are required to be able to qualify. 

So far, five teams and one individual responded.  “We hope this recognition will inspire other LSE graduates to follow their footsteps. Nothing is impossible if they work hard,” Leila Rispens-Noel, co-founder of WIMLER Foundation HK said.

 “We are aware that many LSE alumni defer the implementation of their business plans until they finally decide to go home for good. They have difficulties finding the right people to manage the business. Some need to raise the required capital although others have started preparing the necessary documents required to start a business in the Philippines. Others are taking additional courses in Hong Kong to enhance their skills and qualifications. For instance, a group of LSE graduates are now busy acquiring accreditation from TESDA.” The 44 LSE 30 participants who graduated last October 11 are not yet included in this call.

The LSE is a joint initiative of the Ateneo de Manila University School of Government (ASOG) with the Overseas Filipinos Society for the Promotion of Economic Security (OFSPES), SEDPI, Ugat Foundation, the Philippine Consulate, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). The course is organized and coordinated in Hong Kong by WIMLER Foundation HK.

Profile of 2015 Awardees

Wow Spa and Beauty Salon

Evilyn Tabujara Suco, a graduate of LSE 22, started WOW Spa and Beauty Salon, on November 27, 2014 immediately after her graduation. Her salon is located in the heart of the commercial district of Paraňaque. Her team is composed of one manager, two receptionists and 38 massage therapists. 

“I am trying to provide my staff the best working arrangement I can give considering that I just started with my business,” says Evilyn.  “A massage therapist receives Ph 100/day flat rate. In addition, for every massage service the therapist performs, he or she takes home Ph 75 plus all the tips. The daily rate increases if they have more clients. For example, if one performs two massage services a day, the take home pay is Ph 150; for three clients, Ph 180 plus all the tips. This arrangement encourages them to work harder. The 100/day is only for those who have only one client per day.”

Some good therapists could earn Ph 1,000/day. As fringe benefit, Evilyn provides an apartment located in front of the spa for those living far from Parañaque to minimize travel expenses.

Evilyn’s commitment to pay forward does not limit in her own business. This year, she supported the education of six pupils through the “Send a Child to School” project of WIMLER.

“The impact of the business on me is enormous,” says Evilyn. “I feel responsible for my crew while pursuing the goals of the business. Being the owner/manager, I have to take care of the human resources and oversee the financial management. I should see to it that my crew regularly upgrades their skills.”

Waffle Express Cart

Waffle Express Cart (Wekart) was formed during the LSE practicum class by Marifi Reyes (LSE 12), Haydee Salazar (LSE 12), Marilyn Ramos (LSE 16), and Mauricio Molina (LSE 16). Marifi Reyes, one of the team members, implemented Waffle Express cart in Camarines Norte last July 24, 2014. 

The other team members also contributed with their ideas. The main products are fresh Belgian and Eggettes waffles including some cold drinks. Marifi’s team originally submitted Pomelo Health Home Spa but after serious consideration, she decided to implement Wekart. The reason for this is that she has no adequate supply yet of pomelo leaves which is the main feature of the spa. While waiting for her pomelo trees to mature, Marifi implemented Wekart.

Marifi’s son, John Patrick Reyes is responsible for the business. Sometimes he asks his classmates to have part time jobs in the Wekart. 

The return of investments after a year is set at Ph 60, 000, an average income of Ph300 to Ph500/day. “Starting a business has lots of ups and downs,” says Marifi. “For example, I bought a generator which costs Ph25, 000 to minimize the cost of electricity. However, there was a complaint of nuisance. So in the end, we used electric plugs again. We also need to save some funds for the maintenance of the waffle machines and the built-in motorcycle. I encountered lots of challenges, but I never give up,” she added.

“The business goes well during school days, lesser during holidays. To augment our income, we also offer our products to various events. Fortunately, since our business is home-based, our overhead expense is lesser.”

Not long after, Marifi opened her second Wekart in Cavite which is run and managed by her sister. Haydee Salazar, one of the members of the team, plans to implement the project in Mindoro now that she is going home for good in October.

“So far, the income of WEKART has helped me a lot. I am now sending less than half of the remittances compared as before. For example, if I used to send Ph 10,000 per month, now I am sending Ph 5,000 only. This means, I can already increase my savings.” 

“LSE taught me how to budget, and to become conscious of my money. LSE taught me how to care of my group mates, motivate them to dream, and start their own business when they go home for good. LSE helps me to get in touch with my family plans and reintegration. And most of all, we have WEKART because of LSE.”

The LSE training helps Marifi a lot in implementing her business. “I become more responsible and a tough decision maker. I am prepared to deal with unexpected events and I have to think immediately for the solutions. I think a business is like having a baby: from conception to birth. You have to care and nurture it so it will grow.”
Marifi’s future plan is to have a space for WEKART inside the Cavite Walter Mall.  

Lucky’s Panganan

Lucky’s Panganan is an eatery set up by Lynette Fajardo and her teammate Abeguel Ong, both LSE 22 graduates and Filipino domestic helpers in Hong Kong. After attending LSE 22, they came up with an idea where to invest some of their savings while working in Hong Kong in preparation for their re-integration.  Panganan is an Ilocano term of eatery. The purpose of the business is to help students and their community by offering them affordable and healthy meal. 

Since noodle dishes are popular, affordable and easy to prepare, they decided to venture into noodle business. Lucky's Panganan started operations last February 2015 with the help of Lynette's parents, Mr. Esteban Garcia as cook and Mrs. Connie Garcia as financial manager. 

Lucky’s Panganan is located near some schools in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya like Saint Mary’s University, Bayombong Central School, PLT College, and Nueva Vizcaya State University exactly where their targeted clients can be found. Their other purpose is to support feeding program in their community for grade school pupils.  Lucky Panganan gives free nutritional food every three months in cooperation with Guardians Bona Fide For Hope Foundation Inc. and Guardians Nationalist of the Philippines Bagong Silang - Chapter Yuen long Hong Kong.

 “LSE has big impact on me specially in setting my personal goals. I learned many things from LSE and I feel little by little, I am achieving some of my plans like setting up my own business to help not only my direct family but also other people,” says Lynette.

“I know I will not be working in Hong Kong all my life. It is difficult to be separated from my family. I cannot take care of my own children and watch them grow.”

“LSE opened my eyes that I should be reunited with my family. With the help of my parents, I hope to see my business grow so one day soon, I can go home for good.”

Passi City Balik-sa-Bayan, Inc.

The Passi City Balik-sa-Bayan, Inc (BsB) is the only non-profit social enterprise business plan submitted during LSE 16. The team is composed of Ma. Wilma Padura, Noemi Paniza, Grace Osido, and Marilou Dacio.

BsB is composed of Passinhon who once in their lifetime worked abroad as OFWs, seafarers and immigrants in various places in the world. It also includes current migrant workers and their family. It was formally registered with the Security and Exchange Commission last November 11, 2012. The BsB office is located at 2nd /F, Passi Public Market, City of Passi, Iloilo, Philippines. They have one volunteer staff to look after their programs and projects.

The overall objective of BsB is to help minimize social problems resulting from migration. This will be achieved by assisting families left behind in setting up family-based income-generating projects to make them eventually less dependent on remittances. 

During LSE 16, the team proposed to conduct Financial Literacy, Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship (FLSE) for families of migrants in Iloilo, a program of Ateneo de Manila University School of Government together with OFSPES, SEDPI, and Ugat Foundation. The main objective of FLSE is to provide OFW returnees and families with knowledge on financial literacy, leadership and social entrepreneurship. After the course, the participants are encouraged to initiate livelihood activities among migrant returnees to help improve their economic situation and well-being.  Having regular source of income, prevents them from sliding back to poverty after they have exhausted or mismanaged whatever savings or assets they initially had. 
BsB implemented FLSE in Iloilo last year with 28 graduates in cooperation with St. Joseph Patronage Parish in Pototan, and COWAH, migrant hometown association of Cabatuanons.  A back-to-back FLSE will be conducted in Pototan and Passi City starting November 7 and 8.  The FLSE is Passi City is supported by the provincial local government, DSWD, DOLE, Double Dragon, Uli-Passi Program, and Passinhon 2000, Inc. 

The group also conducted a Therapeutic Massage Training last March 23-24, 2015 attended by ten members to help create jobs for the unemployed. BsB also aims to give back to the community by providing community services and launching charity and scholarship projects. This year, BsB launched “Send a Child to School Project” in partnership with WIMLER Foundation Hong Kong. 

Ten elementary pupils from Anecito Panolino Elementary School in Brgy. Dalicanan, Passi City, Iloilo received educational assistance in 2015 with the help of Passinhon abroad. In addition, they organized Giving and Feeding program in five barangays of Passi City.

In line with livelihood activities, BsB constructed a fishpond in Brgy. Sablogon, Passi City. They started with 2,500 tilapia fingerlings which will be harvested every 2 months. They also have a vegetable garden in the same area.

 “The impact of this projects in our lives is that we live what we have learned in LSE on how to become a servant leader by empowering our members on how to save, investing and starting a social enterprise type of business,” says Wilma. She realized the importance of building cooperation with LGUs and other like-minded organizations in Iloilo to be able to implement their business plan.

Spa Kalusugan Hong Kong /Sanctuaryo Beauty and Wellness Training Center Bacolod City

Wilma Donnelly can be considered as the first LSE 12 graduate who implemented a business plan. A few months after her graduation from LSE 12, Wilma opened the Spa Kalusugan in Central on February 15, 2015 together with two of her team mates. Ladyline Ducusin did accounting and administrative work while Joel Espino dela Cruz did the marketing part during the first year of operations.

SPA Kalusugan operates as a social entrepreneurship in HK.  It offers 60 % discount on treatments and spa lessons for all OFWs and 20% discount on treatments for local HK residents. Many HK, Filipinos and expat residents and a few hundred OFW's enjoyed the spa treatments and promoted relaxation, wellness and well-being and healing. A few female migrant workers joined the classes for massage, body scrub and facial therapies. 

Wilma reserves a portion of her net income to support a ministry in Bacolod City and Negros called Feeds for Souls. 

“I had saved enough capital to open Sanctuaryo: Beauty and Wellness Training Center in Bacolod City in 2015. There are 8 trainees now. With her business Wilma hopes to provide them with spiritual nourishment as well as practical skills so they will have meaningful source of income.

Lingap Galing Cleaning Consultants

Lingap Galing Cleaners  (LGCC) is a company with a social mission established in late 2012. It was set up by returning migrant workers from Hong Kong in partnership with development professionals, community organizers and concerned local entrepreneurs based in the Philippines to offer livelihood and additional income sources to low-income women in various communities in Metro Manila. The team members are: Ching Baltazar, Cristina Cayat, Lenlen Mesina, and Gina Ordona.

Returned migrants who have knowledge and practical experience in professional housekeeping services up-to-date with international standards trained their cleaning consultants. After putting together training modules and materials, LGCC completed their intensive pilot training which benefited a total of 42 community women. The participants completed more than 40 hours of extensive theoretical and hands-on training in different household types and setting in Metro Manila.

On-going on-the-job trainings from June – December 2014 allowed LGCC to select the most committed core group of trainees who are now ready to take up work assignments.  From January 2015, LGCC maintains a core group of regular 6 cleaners alternately servicing regular as well as one off clients. 

At the moment a young woman from the community helps in promoting LGCC coordinates work and market our services. They also have a volunteer operations coordinator and finance manager. 

Migrant founders have delivered regular workshops and sessions with the core group and ensure standards and quality of the services we provide.

At the moment, they are in a business incubation arrangement housed within SEDPI. LGCC has been offering services to clients and issuing receipts if requested from SEDPI. They now are in the process of expanding the market and continuously training their core group of cleaners to ensure standards and keep their small client base happy.

The team realized that setting up a business is definitely not a walk in the park. “It gets more complicated and difficult with decisions that has to be made among a number of partners while also taking into consideration context in the Philippines since the business is set up there,” says Lenlen.

“It is very challenging to get fully committed cleaners and all of us as business partners realized that community women need a lot of support to reframe their mindset from dole out mentality to work-for-pay plus making them realize the importance of delivering quality service. It is exciting though to see how our core group are able to internalize the principles of the company and how we stress the importance of integrity, dignity of work and high quality service.”

“LSE showed us the possibility of creating/setting up a business aiming to also do social good. It does require though continuous mentoring and guidance especially for women who are not very much ready to go home yet but are keen to begin to plan their business and life when they go back for good.”