By Nirva Delacruz
Nearly every other victim of the Duterte administration’s drug war is a breadwinner. It’s a painful fact, but aside from the injustice of losing a loved one, their families are often economically and financially crippled after their murders. “Napakalaking parte na nawala s’ya sa buhay namin (We lost a lot when he died),” shares Gloria Salem, one of our mother-beneficiaries in Program Paghilom, telling us about her son-in-law’s killing. Coming from the poorest of the poor, EJK victims’ families bear the crushing blow of sudden death in the family, sometimes in unhealthy ways.
This is why AJKFI, in partnership with Spark YES! and De La Salle University (DLSU), prioritized organizing an entrepreneurship mentoring program for some of the mothers and wives of EJK victims to help them learn basic business and management skills. Grouped into four business type categories: door-to-door selling, karinderya, online selling, and palengke or sari-sari store, the mentees were also given Php5,000-grants by DLSU to use as capital for their small businesses. The first batch of 18 has graduated, with 17 more women participating in weekly virtual sessions and house visits. So far, the results have been pretty impressive.
Doing business systematically
“The biggest, most noteworthy change that I saw in them, almost simultaneously, is that [they do] business systematically now,” shared Francis Claravall, project lead for the KAPErtner Mentorship and Monitoring Program, in an interview. According to Claravall, before the mentoring program, most of the women would share how they would do business in a hit or miss fashion (“para makabenta lang”). Now Claravall says they earn more by checking out the market and selling products that are popular with customers.
Another significant impact is how generally all of the mentees have started avoiding falling into debt and making unnecessary purchases. “I remember one of them would go on Lazada right away to shop. Now she has uninstalled Lazada from her phone,” adds Claravall, who also pays house visits to each mentee at least four times in two months to personally check on their progress.
What I learned is how to be business-minded, and a business plan is a way to guide you as you start your business
Business plans, being thrifty, & more
When asked to share one of her top take-aways from the sessions, Maria Theresa Austria, one of the mothers, shared, “Ang natutunan ko ay ang pagiging business-minded, and ang business plan ay isang paraan upang makatulong sa pag guide kapag ikaw ay bumuo ng isang negosyo (What I learned is how to be business-minded, and a business plan is a way to guide you as you start your business).” For Carmelita Ignacio, her lessons have been both concrete and simple. “[Natutunan ko na] mag-ipon, palaguin ang kita kahit na ito ay maliit, at maging matipid (I learned to save, increase my profit even if it’s small, and to be thrifty.”
It’s still a long way, but the Program Paghilom wives and mothers are definitely on the right track to financial freedom.