A Rare Opportunity: Merely Not to Survive But to Thrive
by: Madan Punsalan
The Rice Retailing project plays a significant role in strengthening and sustaining the local economy. By ensuring the steady supply of rice in a certain area, it contributes to food security and is very important, especially in times of crisis when food supply chains can be disrupted. Rice is a staple food in the Philippines and there is a constant high demand for it, making it a viable business opportunity. With the right strategies in place such as sourcing directly from farmers or millers, and effective pricing, a rice retailing business can be profitable.
In 2016, 35 beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) formed the Banquerohan Agriculture Vendors Association (BAVA) in Brgy. Banquerohan, Cadiz City, Negros Occidental. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) provided the association with a seed capital fund of P350,000 for their proposed Rice Retailing Project under the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP). Currently, Chita C. Quijano is elected as SLPA President.
The SLPA obtained permits from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), National Food Authority (NFA), and LGU of Cadiz City. Their customers were drawn to their enterprise in the public market of Cadiz City due to their positive attitude, determination, and customer-friendly approach.
In 2018, thirty-one active members of the SLPA received their first income dividend, amounting to P1,500 per member. The project helped to boost economic resilience and provided them with an opportunity to generate income. Despite facing competition from other large-scale rice retailers, the SLPA ensured that it could compete with existing prices in the market. In 2019, the SLPA shared a total income of P70,000. During the CoVid-19 pandemic, the SLPA was uncertain about the future of their livelihood project. However, after conducting a meeting, they disbursed a total of P310,000, giving each member P10,000 to have their means of living after the devastation brought by the Covid 19 Pandemic to small entrepreneurs not only in Cadiz City but to the entire country. They initially thought that the project had come to an end, but after months of enhanced community quarantine, they resumed their operations.
The SLPA once again has successfully sustained their project due to the high demand for rice despite having limited capital after helping their members during the pandemic. The association provided its members with the opportunity to establish their own Rice Retailing business in their respective areas. The only condition was to return the capital within the set timeline. Additionally, the SLPA provided financial assistance to members who faced emergencies. They also allowed members to transact rice for family consumption in installments. In 2021, the SLPA shared a total income dividend of P62,000, and they repeated this in 2022.
The SLPA, as Pantawid beneficiaries, actively participated in community activities such as the Clean Up Drive that takes place every two weeks in their barangay. The officers and members also sponsored the merienda during Flores de Mayo and Simbang Gabi in December. In December 2023, the SLPA initiated a gift-giving program that provided rice and groceries to 5 indigent families in Cadiz City. They also shared the income dividend of P31,000 among their members.
“Nag umpisa ako bilang president sa wala. Indi mahapos mag manage sang asosasyon pero indi gid ako gusto nga madula lang yang pundo sang gobyerno sa amun nga mga pigado pinaagi sa DSWD-SLP. Amo ini nga bisan paglantaw nila sa akun istrikta ako nga klase sang lider, ang gusto ko kay i-manage sang insakto ang proyekto nga gintugyan sa amun sang SLP kag makabenepisyo man ang tanan nga miyembero kun sila mag aktibo. [I started to assume the position of the president from scratch. It wasn’t easy to manage an association, but I don’t want to lose the fund entrusted to us by the government to go into nothing. That is why, even if they see me as a strict leader, I want the project entrusted to us through SLP to be properly managed for the members to benefit from it by their active participation].” said the SLPA president.
The president mentioned that she had to start from scratch and found it challenging to handle the members and manage the project. The project was already problematic when she assumed the position. However, she doesn’t want the funds provided to them by the government through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) – Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) to go to waste. Despite the negative impression of her as a strict leader, she was determined to manage the project properly so that all members of the SLPA could benefit from it.
At present, the association has a total financial and rice inventory of P1.1M. The association is also the supplier of 200 sacks for the LGU Supplemental Feeding program in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental which is done quarterly. Other associations engaging in Rice Retailing like the ERPAT, PAMANA, Regular SLPAs, and other rice retailers in Cadiz get their stocks in Banquerohan Agriculture Vendors Association (BAVA).
With the success of the association, it has a plan to expand its business to Grocery and Feeds Retailing. The president also wanted to provide employment for those members who don’t have their daily income by allowing them to manage these future business expansions.
Indeed, small enterprises can become successful if they are managed carefully. Each member of the team needs to do their part to create a positive impact on their lives and the people around them. Any mistakes or failures along the way should be seen as milestones and learning opportunities to help them grow and improve their skills and knowledge. This experience can prove beneficial in managing their enterprise effectively.
Mrs. Chita C. Quijano is very thankful for the Seed Capital Fund through the Sustainable Livelihood Program, the CSWDO-Cadiz City as well as the Cadiz LGU for providing support to them, BLGU and the opportunity given to her as the President of the SLPA in Brgy. Banquerohan, Cadiz City. She promised that she would continue what they’ve started right and continue to improve and become one of the role models for SLPAs funded by the government through DSWD SLP.