Project Bagong Araw: The dawn of hope for Yolanda-affected microentrepreneurs

The old sari-sari store made of nipa was no longer in sight as Tatay Gilbert Godio set foot in his hometown. Everything was wrecked as an unimaginable tragedy hit home.

Long, weary nights came to the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda, the strongest typhoon recorded in history, wiped out the towns in Eastern Visayas. Strong winds, heavy rains, and towering waves lashed everything in the towns. It crippled the whole region leaving survivors almost hopeless.

Help from everywhere in the world came in, but the victims knew it was just not enough. Left with almost nothing, they needed to face the reality of rebuilding again.

With a little in his savings, Tatay Gilbert started to make use of what was repairable and began their family business again. Along with their sari-sari store, he opened a small bakery that delivers bread to the locals. It may not be the best idea, but he knew they had to move on and continue living.

Day and night, his store continued to serve the neighborhood, but it was not doing well. Until he was invited to join a Hapinoy training designed for small scale entrepreneurs.  At first, he was hesitant believing it was just one of the cover ups. But reconciling to himself that nothing will lose if he joins, he attended the training.

“Akala ko kagaya lang siya ng iba na nangangakong tutulong… pero yong kaseryosohan ng Hapinoy na turuan is malaking bagay na yon. Seryoso sila na maging partner ng mga negosyante.”

(I thought it was just the same with the other organizations who promised to help, but the sincerity of Hapinoy to teach us is a big deal. They are serious in partnering with the entrepreneurs.)

Just like the other attendees, Tatay Gilbert is expectant to learn from this training. He actively participates in the workshop as he sees it as an opportunity to learn and grow more in business. His old ways of doing business are challenged by the concepts and practices the training introduces, but with an open mind he tries to absorb and apply it. Dreaming to expand their family business, Tatay Gilbert believes that what he learns from the training will equip him to face larger opportunities.

“Noon nag-ne-negosyo ako, pero walang recording. Sinusulat lang namin yong expenses namin , yong sales namin ng araw, pero hindi na namin na-mo-monitor… Ngayon chini-check ko na yong sa pagsisimula, oras ng pagtatrabaho lahat. Kasi kasama na yon e… aside from nakita ko kung magkano ang kinita namin, yong excess money ko may pinaglalaanan ako kung anong produkto ang pwede kong isunod. Meron na bang kaming sistema.”

(I was doing business before without the records. I was just listing the expenses and the sales for the day, but I was not monitoring. Now, I regularly check when we start working, everything, because I learned that it’s all included. Aside from seeing how much money we make, I learned to save my excess money for other products we can explore. We have had a system.)

This training that involves Sari-Sari Store owners like Tatay Gilbert is part of the Bagong Araw: Rebuilding through Microinsurance and Women’s Microenterprises in the Philippines (PREMIUM) Project focused on helping areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda. Behind this initiative is the commitment of the Global Affairs Canada with the Microventures Foundation, along with the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development Inc. and the RIMANSI Organization for Asia and the Pacific Inc., as the implementing partners. It aims to equip and empower micro-entrepreneurs as they move forward in creating resilient and sustainable businesses to further improve their economic well-being.

With different forms of help they receive after Typhoon Yolanda, the whole region is breathing again, letting time heal all the pains. The ray of hope has continued to dawn in their land.