Even more important in helping the marginalized is the farming and fisheries sector. Seventy five percent of the those who fall below the poverty line of approximately P100 daily income per person are in the rural areas. Thus, we need to mobilize the talents, resources and motivation of the young professionals in helping the poor farmers and fisherfolk uplift their lives. Here again, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Angat Buhay can partner with existing models of assisting farmers, fisherfolks and microentrepreneurs (especially the so-called Nanays) to improve their incomes.
Let me cite a few examples. Mayani is a social enterprise made up of mostly young professionals in their twenties and early thirties whose grand vision is to have a Philippines “where smallholder farmers lead better lives by changing how people buy their food through e-commerce.” Especially relevant to the post-pandemic era where consumers have learned to purchase many more of their daily necessities, especially food, through digital means, Mayani provides the fastest-growing farm-to-table platform with over 72,000 farmers, 13,000 B2C customers and a solid B2B portfolio, including the likes of Shell, Robinson, WalterMart, Kopiko, Healthy Options, UCC Group, Caritas Manila, Amici, and Cara Mia, among others. By developing a means of instant communication between farmers and the consumers, Mayani has helped thousands of farmers to obtain much higher prices for their produce compared to the usual means of middlemen purchasing the products of the farmers at the lowest prices possible and selling them to consumers at the highest prices they obtain. Through helping farmers have direct informattion on the prices actually prevailing in the markets, this digital platform has done much to improve the incomes of farmers, especially in provinces close to the NCR such as Batangas, Cavite, Laguna and Bulacan.
The Mayani model (firstname.lastname@example.org or 0949 121 2300) can be replicated by young professionals who are IT-savvy in other cities of the Philippines, such as Cebu, Iloilo, Davao, Cagayan de Oro and other urbanizing areas closely surrounded by farm lands that can be planted to high-value products like vegetables, fruits and flowers. I would suggest budding social entrepreneurs to check with the website of Mayani to obtain more details about the numerous farm products that its digital platform has assisted small farmers to sell at better prices around the NCR region. Angat Buhay can then partner with these social entrepreneurs by assisting them to provide smart phones or similar digital devices which the farmers can use in obtaining the instant communication that the Mayani model makes available to them about prices and outlets. In fact, as can be verified in the website of Mayani, frozen meat and fish products can are included in the basket of goods that farmers can sell through the platform, such as chicken wings, chicken drumsticks, chicken breast fillet, ebi fry, galungggong, mixed seafood, pompano premium, salmon belly strips, vannamei, salmon loin, and spring chicken.
Another model worth emulating is Iskaparate.com that addresses the market challenge to women microentrepreneurs commonly referred to as “nanays”, mothers who try to supplement the meager earnings of their husbands by producing at home some product or another for sale. Founded by banker Joey Bermudez, Iskaparate is a digital platform that puts micro-entrepreneurs (most of them Nanays or entrepreneurial mothers) in the digital space. Today, the platform provides not only digital presence to these micro-entrepreneurs but also online selling support, continuous training, and entrepreneurial guidance. Launched on September 8, 2020 during the height of the pandemic, Iskaparate started with only 33 entrepreneurial mothers who were members of Kabuhayan Ganap na Kasrinlan, a microfinance institution operating in the urban poor areas of Central Luzon, Metro Metro Manila, and Calabarzon. Within a year, more than twenty other organizations with a collective membership of close to 30,000 joined the Iskaparate movement and helped their members become sellers in the marketplace. Like Mayani, this platform can be replicated in other regions of the Philippines, especially Central Visayas, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Northern Luzon and other regions in which there are urban poor communities in which microenterprises, especially started by women, proliferate. As an example that will especially be close to the heart of VP Leni Robredo is that of Maria Cristina Trillanes, a “nanay” who heads the Bikolanas Agricultural Cooperative, an organization that advocates greenhealth technology in the Bicol region. She and her members produce organic products including special pickled veggies and other processed food items. Iskaparate.com has helped her group to market their products online. I can envision Angat Buhay partnering with Iskaparate.com to significantly increase the number of “nanays” all over the Philippines in expanding their small businesses through more effective online marketing.
What is within the educational accomplishments, work experiences and skills of young professionals is the whole mentoring process of aiding struggling microentrepreneurs, not only in the marketing of their products as Mayani and Iskaparate.com are doing for the rural and the urban poor but in all the aspects of a business operation, such as production, finance and business planning. Those in their twenties and early thirties can follow the example of older business leaders who comprise the very successful “Mentoring ME Philippine” of the Go Negosyo Pilipinas Angat Lahat movement established by leading businessman Joey Concepcion in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry.
As Joey Concepcion himself wrote in an article in The Philippine Star on July 18, 2019. “Mentorship has been at the core of these programs as we believe that with guidance of expert mentors, micro and small entrepreneurs will be able to propel their businesses to success and development. Our programs have gathered support from more than 700 mentors nationwide and partners from business and government sector such as the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture, as well as private organizations such as the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, among others who are providing entrepreneurship education to our MSMEs. One of the successful programs is the Kapatid Mentor ME program in partnership with DTI. The program aims to help MSMEs to scale up their business through a 10-module programdone by weekly coaching and mentoring by business owners and practitioners on different functional areas of entrepreneurship.
In the area of agriculture, another program is the Kapatid Agri Mento ME which is done in partnership with Department of Agriculture. This program aims to help agri-entrepreneurs through agri-based associations and cooperatives by capacitating them in various areas of business. Since its launch in 2017, this program was able to reach 16 regions, successfully train more than 2,500 farmers, and produce graduates in close to 1,000 agri-based cooperatives and farmer associations. These initiatives of the Mentor ME program, implemented through the help of older and more experienced people of business can have its counterpart in what Angat Buhay can start with younger professionals who can take charge of mentoring more elementary forms of microentrepreneurship as practiced by small farmers and “nanays”. What could distinguish the Angat Lahat of Joey Concepcion and his colleagues in Mentor Me and the less experienced by equally motivated yuppies who can redirect their zeal as “kakampinks” towards helping microentrepreneurs in the Angat Buhay movement is the exclusive focus of the latter on partnership with other private NGOs instead of cooperating with government agencies and institutions. As mentioned above, Angat Buhay can provide upskilling programs for the volunteer yuppies in the art of mentoring that will supplement their professional expertise in business, management or information technology. To be continued.