Women achiev­ers: from R5,000 ini­tial cap­i­tal to R9- mil­lion in as­sets

Agriculture - - Contents -

SOME 20 YEARS AGO, in De­cem­ber 1995, a group of strug­gling but very de­ter­mined wid­ows and women farm­ers in Sol­sona, Ilo­cos Norte de­cided to form a multi-pur­pose co­op­er­a­tive with no in­ten­tion of ac­cept­ing males as mem­bers. They called it the Nasalukag Women’s Multi-Pur­pose Co­op­er­a­tive.

“Nasalukag” is an Ilo­cano word that speaks of go-get­ters, ac­tive do­ers, en­trepreneurial, alert­ness, and things to that ef­fect. The found­ing chair­per­son, Anita Ben­ito, is a 64-year-old widow who cul­ti­vates three hectares for rice seed pro­duc­tion. Prob­a­bly be­cause most of the mem­bers are small rice grow­ers, the main busi­ness of their co­op­er­a­tive is cen­tered on palay pro­cure­ment and rice trad­ing.

Of course, they started in the rice busi­ness be­cause they did not have enough cap­i­tal in the be­gin­ning to un­der­take trad­ing. In fact, with the R5,000 each that the 20 women mem­bers chipped in, they were only able to op­er­ate like a sari-sari store, us­ing an aban­doned chicken house as their place of busi­ness. They bought and sold ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties like soap, cook­ing oil, cof­fee, and sugar.

By the end of the first year of op­er­a­tion, they were able to save R20,000 which they used to pur­chase more goods for sale. They didn’t give them­selves any salary for the first two years. It was re­ally a sac­ri­fice but they were de­ter­mined to suc­ceed.

Why no male mem­bers? Per­haps they wanted to prove to the male-dom­i­nated co-op that was then op­er­at­ing that women can do bet­ter. Anita said that the lead­ers of that co-op had tried to block the reg­is­tra­tion of the women’s co­op­er­a­tive. But the men could not do any­thing to pre­vent the women from or­ga­niz­ing their own co-op. Af­ter all, they were el­i­gi­ble to do so. And they have been able to prove that the women can re­ally do bet­ter than the men. The men’s co-op has long since gone bank­rupt while the “Nasalukag” women are do­ing good busi­ness. They have their own doable strate­gies to suc­ceed. The ini­tial R5,000 cap­i­tal that they started with has now grown to R9 mil­lion in as­sets which in­clude a prime lot, a build­ing and ware­house, and an Elf truck for haul­ing, and in­ven­tory.

Palay pro­cure­ment is their main source of in­come. They buy the har­vest of small farm­ers who usu­ally sell all their palay

right af­ter har­vest and then buy just a cou­ple of ca­vans of milled rice later. The co-op sells the palay it buys to the Na­tional Food Au­thor­ity (NFA). From Oc­to­ber 12 to De­cem­ber 28, 2015, Ben­ito said they were able to de­liver one mil­lion ki­los (kg) of palay to the NFA. They bought the palay at R16.50/ kg and sold the same for R17.40/ kg to the NFA, mak­ing a gross profit of R900,000 in a short span of time.

There is also a pro­gram of NFA that the Nasalukag women are tak­ing ad­van­tage of. This is what they call FOBB or farmer’s op­tion to buy back the palay that the co-op sup­plied to NFA. How does the co-op make money from the scheme? Well, women look for pos­si­ble buy­ers at a higher price some­where, like when they met a buyer who was will­ing to buy palay at R19/ kg. They bought back what they sup­plied to the NFA for R18.10/ kg, and passed this on to the same buyer from Bu­la­can at R19/ kg. Again they made a profit of 90 cen­tavos per kilo.

RICE STORE – The co-op also runs a store in the pub­lic mar­ket where it sells NFA as well as com­mer­cial rice. The sales­woman does not have a salary but she gets a com­mis­sion of R50 per sack that she sells. The direc­tors of the co-op find it much bet­ter to sell rice in the pub­lic mar­ket and not in the co-op of­fice. Why? That’s one way of avoid­ing sales on credit. In the pub­lic mar­ket, the cus­tomer can­not buy rice on credit.

As of today, there are only 80 mem­bers of the co­op­er­a­tive. To be­come a mem­ber, you should be a woman farmer. Ben­ito says they are not keen on ac­cept­ing more mem­bers as they find it much more man­age­able to have a rel­a­tively small membership.

To us, their busi­ness strate­gies are sim­ple enough. They are well fo­cused on the busi­ness they are most familiar with. Ben­ito has only fin­ished high school but she speaks good English and has prac­ti­cal busi­ness sense. The only col­lege grad­u­ate whom they hired as man­ager is May­bel In­dasen, who fin­ished a course in devel­op­ment com­mu­ni­ca­tion at the Mar­i­ano Mar­cos State Univer­sity. And they only have one male em­ployee: the driver of the truck, who is the son of one of the mem­bers.

GRANTS – The Nasalukag women don’t so­licit do­na­tions be­cause they think they can make do with what they have. But peo­ple and agen­cies who ad­mire what they have been do­ing have been gen­er­ous enough to of­fer fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance. For in­stance, the New Zealand gov­ern­ment gave them a grant of R200,000 for the pro­mo­tion of the use of or­ganic fer­til­iz­ers. The Cana­dian gov­ern­ment, on the other hand, gave R160,000 for other pur­poses. And when Gover­nor Imee Mar­cos was a con­gress­woman, she gave a grant of R40,000 to add to their cap­i­tal.

The Nasalukag women are, of course, thank­ful for the do­na­tions that they re­ceived but they are not so­lic­it­ing them. –ZAC B. SARIAN

Some of­fi­cials of the women’s co-op (seated, from left): Norma Guira, di­rec­tor; Anita Ben­ito, chair­man; May­bel In­dasen, man­ager. (Stand­ing): Macaria Sanchez, sec­re­tary of the board; and El­iza Ramos, di­rec­tor.

Co-op chair­man Ben­ito (left photo) poses with rice seed for plant­ing which she pro­duces and sells through the co­op­er­a­tive. Far left photo shows RJ Pin­era of the gover­nor’s of­fice with Guira and In­dasen.

Of­fi­cials pose with their Elf truck. From left: Ramos, Ben­ito, In­dasen, Sanchez, and Guira. The co-op now has as­sets of about R9 mil­lion.

The sig­nage at the head­quar­ters of the Nasalukag Women’s Multi-Pur­pose Co­op­er­a­tive, es­tab­lished in De­cem­ber 1995.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.