Getting to know other people is always an experience that is both exciting and scary. It is exciting because we get to discover others – who they are and what they are like – and in the process, we also see a part of ourselves being reflected to us. On the other hand, it is scary because it is coming face-to-face with something unknown. Having two emotions that pulls an individual in different directions can be tense which causes others to clam up. As such, it is important to create a light, fun and comfortable environment to allow others to feel safe for them to share a little bit about themselves and hopefully, set the foundation for a long-lasting friendship.
Hapinoy always aims to infuse fun in its workshops. To jumpstart activities for the business cell, participants were asked to draw four different symbols that represent an aspect of themselves. This activity always brought about laughter as it challenged the microentrepreneurs to break their own notion of their limitation in drawing and think out-of-the-box to produce illustrations that show who they are. It aimed to lower inhibitions that they might have had as they came in and it built connection towards one another as they enjoyed and appreciated each other’s artwork and mused about their similarities and differences.
Afterwards, the sari-sari store owners were asked to draw all the similarities they have noticed alongside the dream they have for their community. One group took it a step further by talking about what they can do tangibly as a business cell. They brainstormed about businesses they can venture together to better serve the needs of the community. Others shared how they can contribute to existing initiatives in their barangay. Through this, those previously seen as competitors became partners brought together by the same purpose and heart for their community.
To cap off their time together, the microentrepreneurs shared the biggest challenges they have faced in running their business and how they have overcome these. There were an exchange of ideas and sometimes, resulting healthy arguments as they shared their own tips in handling utang (accounts receivable from clients who do not pay immediately upon exchange of goods), kupit (pilferage by family members including the owners themselves) and the like. The most heartwarming of these conversations were from those who recounted their experience during Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda). Tears were shed as they expressed the joy, relief and pride they have in sharing how they recovered only four years after experiencing the devastation brought about by the calamity. They took note of what they learned about each other’s experiences and related it to how it can be applied to their business today.
Overall, the sari-sari store owners enjoyed the light-hearted time they had together. They enjoyed the activities that allowed them to get to know each other and dream together. But most of all, they appreciated having an intimate setting where they can simply share and listen to one another’s learning and experiences. Hapinoy hopes that such a wonderful experience will be continuing conversations as they walk alongside one another in their microentrepreneurial journey.