Competition to Camaraderie
Microentrepreneurship is usually seen as a highly individualistic endeavor. Commonly ran by a sole proprietor, it is assumed that an entrepreneur builds, runs and grows the business all by herself. However, starting and sustaining a business is no easy task, especially to someone who is completely new in the field and does not have previous experience in the market. Among business circles, it is recognized that having a good support system is essential to one’s career journey.
Sari-sari store retailing is a highly competitive industry. It is not uncommon for stores to be right next to each other. As such, the other store is seen more as a competitor than a source of support. Nevertheless, building healthy relationships among competitors is possible. In creating modules to build support groups among Hapinoy Negosyantes called business cells, Hapinoy began with facilitating the discovery of similarities among sari-sari store owners. The similarities can be in the form of traits, values and dreams. Once this common ground is established, the group determines their inherent qualities which forms their group identity.
To nurture this newfound affinity, the module guides sari-sari store owners to talk about the challenges they face in their day-to-day business operations and the learning that comes along with it. In doing so, the microentrepreneurs realize how similar their journeys are and how having such a group serves as a venue to impart their experiences and find out about best practices in the industry. The business cell is a place for them not just to learn, but to also share what they know, which fulfills both the need for guidance and the desire to be of help to others.
Afterwards, the module moves past the discussion of the importance of the sari-sari store to the microentrepreneur and her family towards its importance to the community it serves. It allows sari-sari store owners to see their role and responsibility in their neighborhood – the gateway of access to significant products and services. Upon realizing this, it asks business cells to pinpoint their dream for the community and develop ways for their group to be part of that dream’s fulfillment.
Through these modules, Hapinoy desires to develop a community of sari-sari store owners who know and understand two things: (1) the importance of being connected to one another, and (2) the significance of their businesses to the lives of those around them. In this way, Hapinoy hopes that such a network of micro-entrepreneurs will go beyond targeting individual success and work towards mutual progress of their fellow entrepreneurs and of the entire country.