Eight ALSE (Ateneo Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship) HK alumni will receive WIMLER ALSE HK Entrepreneurship Award on October 6, 2019 at The Chinese University of Hong Kong in Shatin, Hong Kong. The Award is conferred to ALSE alumni who show entrepreneurial spirit, commitment, vision, and capabilities to turn vision into business realities. It is also granted to those who undertake initiatives that make a positive contribution to the community and society in general. The awardees were nominated by their co-ALSE alumni.
This year’s awardees are:
By November last year, she and her husband finally decided to start the construction of KRAMGYEOPSAL Korean Grill Restaurant in Sta. Cruz, Ligao City, Albay. She chose to open a Korean restaurant because she knew that Korean cuisine is very popular in the Philippines at the moment and it is something new to her place. On December 18, 2018, they opened the restaurant just in time for the peak holiday season.
KRAMGYEOPSAL is the first Korean restaurant in Ligao City. Food business is not new to Marife. She and her husband already owned two eateries in the area. It also helped that before she went to Hong Kong, they had acquired a 300 sqm prime lot. It is walking distance to major offices and buildings such as the City Hall, hospital, police station, bus terminal and LTO Office, so a restaurant business made sense.
Her contract was supposed to end in 2020. She originally planned to finish it because her employer was very kind. However, she finally decided not to return to Hong Kong when she saw that their new restaurant was doing well.
Marife and her husband hired 9 people to help their business and they still plan to hire more. Most of their staff members did not finish their college education. The only qualification they require are NC2 and Beverage certificates. In this respect, Marife has helped in creating jobs in her hometown.
Marife considers ALSE as a big help in preparing their business plan.
“Kung malapit lang kayo Mam Lalay matutuwa kayo kasi inaplay ko lahat nalalaman ko sa LSE,” Marife said enthusiastically.
Marife is just 38 years old and after working several years in HK, she is already on the road to fulfilling her migration goals. But this is because she made a good plan with the support of her husband and family.
In less than a year, on September 15, 2019, Marife and her husband opened a second Korean restaurant in Legazpi City.
Rose is loaded with skills and talents. Her passions are in sewing and handicrafts such as assorted ribbon folding, beads crafting, fashion accessories making, macramé bag making, party balloon making, soap flower carving, vegetables and fruits carving, hair clips making, creating flowers made of stockings, and others. She is also interested in cooking different dishes, baking, meat processing, salted egg making, pickles and other preserved food making. She excels in all these endeavors.
Rose is confident to start anything because of the skills she learned. But admits she lacks knowledge on how to run her business properly and lack contact persons or partners to help her pursue her dreams.
In 2015, she attended the Ateneo Leadership and Social Enterprise (ALSE) course, Batch 30.
After working for 21 years in Hong Kong, she decided to go home for good in July 2018. While planning for her return, she bought in Hong Kong the materials she needed for her future reintegration plan.
However, she also met a lot of challenges in putting up her business. One problem is lack of capital. The money she saved was not enough to meet all the expenses to set up her shop and boutique. So, she leased the piece of land she inherited from her mother.
Luckily, she receives regular orders. She started receiving wedding entourage packages. She buys the materials using the advance payment for each order. Her customer base started growing.
“Dapat may sapat ka na puhunan. Ako kasi aaminin ko, kulang pa sa puhunan ng umuwi ako. Ang trabaho namin bilang DH di namin hawak and anytime mapapauwi ka sa ayaw at gusto mo. Kaya kahit hindi sapat puhunan ko, baon ko naman ang aking mga nalalaman na skills. Small but terrible daw ako pero puno ako ng pangarap na makatulong sa pamilya at sa mga walang trabaho.”
Rose realized the need to save enough for capital. She also realized that skills and talents are not enough to start a business. That is why, she is thankful for what she learned from ALSE.
“Napakalaki ang naitulong sa akin ng ALSE, Ma’am Lalay. Nagpapasalamat ako sa inyong lahat sa dagdag kaalaman na aking natutunan. Ngayon ko na realize na hindi sapat na may talent ka lang. Dapat meron ka talagang sandatang kaalaman paano mo patagbihin.”
UMELEA started with meat processing, flower making, ribbon folding, beads craft and soap making. Later, it introduced fruit and vegetable carving; and stocking flower making. Over the years, hundreds of domestic helpers have attended these courses. Later, it added Swedish Massage and Reflexology courses as well as financial literacy with support from The Bankers’ Club in Hong Kong.
Massage therapy is a free, year-round training. To graduate from the course, one must take the basic massage therapy course, then complete 72 hours of additional lessons on basic anatomy and physiology, microbiology and pathology. This is followed by a practicum or on-the-job training. The training includes preparation for TESDA’s NCII certification examination to be taken in the Philippines or at any onsite assessment in Hong Kong to be accredited by the agency as a more competitive massage therapist. So far, UMELA has already conducted 41 batches attended by 614 trainees.
Many ALSE graduates joined UMELA training courses. Learning practical skills and combining what they learned from ALSE gave them better chances to succeed once they embark on productive activities.
By attending various livelihood skills training, OFWs can start their own business with little capital when they finally decide to go home for good. Aside from providing training courses in Hong Kong, UMELA also raised funds for charity works in the Philippines.
“ALSE has helped me and my children a lot. I was able to teach them how to manage their finances like first thing first.” Not all help can be met right away. They have to wait. I learn to tighten my belt.”
“As co-founder/president/trainor of UMELA, I learned to make firm decisions for the betterment of the members of the association. I acquired self-esteem,” Ofelia said.
For her sterling accomplishments in empowering migrant workers in Hong Kong, Ofelia is being nominated as one of WIMLER ALSE Entrepreneurship Awardees for 2019 for non-profit category.
This year (2019), she felt much more assured after joining a trade fair in Baguio City last April. She finally felt confident that she can actually do it even by just participating in trade fairs. Her participation in that fair sent waves of enthusiasm to her now partner in creating contemporary clothing using Cordillera ethnic weaves as accent.
The ALSE course was timely for Rose since she was about to start a seafood company in 2017. One year later, Rose is actually implementing the project at full speed. Her company made its first harvest in March 2019 and expect to have second harvest late January next year. Instead of harvesting them young, the fish are harvested every six months when the fish weigh about a kilo, a size that’s in demand in wet markets.
She started the business with Php250,000 in savings. Originally, she saved the money to build a house, but she postponed her plans when she learned about this business opportunity.
Rose started with 5,000 fish. As of now, her business grown to 21,000 fish in three marine cages obtained with subsidy from Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), through a two-year contract.
Her parents manage the business while she is in Hong Kong and they receive salaries. She has one full-time staff who does the day-to-day maintenance and 12 harvesters (casual/seasonal).
At harvest time, buyers purchase the fish direct from the farm and distribute them to the large wholesale wet markets in Bacolod City. They also time the harvest when most fishermen do not go out fishing during full moon so there is demand for their milkfish. It is a common belief that when the full moon is out, fish are harder to catch.
As a start-up, Rose encountered several problems. During the first harvest, they expected to harvest two tons of milkfish, but they actually only harvested 800 kilos. They found out that some workers were stealing fish. The main task of her parents now is to prevent such practices. She also tries to go home during harvest season to supervise and manage the financial proceeds.
Another problem the business encountered is delay in delivering feeds because of typhoons. To minimize the risk, Rose sees to it that they always have a two-month supply on hand.
Rose still wants to add more value. If she gets a chance, she wants to undergo training on how to marinate milkfish, another potential business line.
When Rose came to Hong Kong as a domestic helper in 2008, she considered it as a steppingstone to eventually work in Canada. She was the main bread winner in her family. While in Hong Kong, she tried to apply for a job in Canada but she was unsuccessful. In the meantime, she received good offers from employers in Hong Kong, which allowed her to stay for over 10 years now.
I asked her if she still plans to go to Canada. “If the business does well, Ma’am Leila, I plan to go home for good and forget about Canada,” Rose answered.
Irene decided to go home for good this year; but while still in Hong Kong, she made concrete plans for her reintegration.
When she reintegrates in 2010, she thought that would be for good but she was wrong. Living in the Philippines without stable income was so difficult. She decided too try her luck in Hong Kong for her children’s sake in 2013.
When Dona attended the ALSE Batch 60 last year, she already had a plan not to extend her contract.
Dona wrote in her My ALSE Journey:
“My personal goal is to go back home next year (2019) for good to be with my family again. My sister in Dubai will reintegrate too, so we are planning to put up a business together not only for us but also for the community as well. Our business will be called Ladolei Cafeteria and Bakeshop.”
In fact, her team presented a business plan titled Dos Mujeres House of Pastries.
When she arrived in Porac, together with her sister and with support from their parents, Dona right away started making plans for her bakery. As a starter her biggest problems is buying tools and equipment for the bakery but she persisted.
MYLENE UBALDO OLIVA was terminated by her employer last January 29, 2019. She was not able to find a new employer because Hong Kong was celebrating Chinese New Year at that time. Using what little savings she had, she started a small business. She also pawned some of her jewelries to add to her capital. She renovated a space in her house and is selling pastries, ukay-ukay, vegetables and some dry goods.
The knowledge she learned from attending ALSE became handy, she said. She already has an idea how to run a business. She did not wait too long to start something. For her courage, resilience and determination, Mylene has been nominated as one of the awardees of WIMLER ALSE Entrepreneurship Award.