Ifugao 2019 KMMEP mentees have big shoes to fill

LAGAWE, IFUGAO – – Another year came and went. A new batch of mentees joined the growing list of Kapatid Mentor Mentor Me (KMME) program graduates in Ifugao.
Both the 2018 and 2019 batches are full of vigor and confidence in meeting the challenges posed by their mentors.
Unwittingly, thirty business owners who completed their interactive course of the KMME have become role models of other aspiring entrepreneurs and in spurring growth and development in the grassroots level encompassing seven towns in Ifugao.
“Let us continue to work together for one of the biggest programs of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), as designed to provide all-out assistance to small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in the countryside.” Ifugao DTI Director Valentin Baguidudol told the ZigZag Weekly.
“Let us stand together for rural development,” he added.
Baguidudol lauded the mentees who were able to become self-made entrepreneurs through hard work, discipline and perseverance in building a successful career in the business world.
According to analysts, the thirty mentees are likely to play an integral role in making a turnaround of the province’s economy. Ifugao is one of the poorest provinces in the Philippines. To delay the move to contain the state of underdevelopment would be to place present-day efforts to curb poverty incidence in a somewhat misleading and erroneous perspective. The enthusiasm of many mentees was rapidly seen as most helpful in inspiring SMEs to take an active role in ensuring a robust economy.
These developments also reflect the effects of several years of changes in depth and breadth by the Go Negosyo program and the DTI-Ifugao Office. Social media has also produced a transformation in the sociological makeup of entrepreneurs in the province. The need to provide employment and to satisfy the aspirations of semi-educated young people also brought in a new attitude for them to actively view the economic outlook in the advent of the global order.
Indeed, the new mentees have big shoes to fill, taking over from old-schooled business owners who lorded over for decades Ifugao’s business landscape. Improvement of the business climate means increased knowledge of macroeconomic forces. There was an important technical weakness in the make-up of old-schooled entrepreneurs. The aged business apparatus in Ifugao is, strictly speaking, running on a trial-and-error mode. Backward practices were prevalent.
Even in the ranks of this year’s mentees many felt it was time to reinvent the operations of business establishments and to make a stand for it. It is like wishing for a magic hand to lift Ifugao’s proprietors and proprietresses from their hibernation.
Ifugao’s entrepreneurs should be reeducated on the lucrative prospects in food exports instead of merely engaging in the trade of momma (betel nuts), ukay ukay (second hand clothes and other items), halo-halo, fried chicken and the like. This time, rambutan, jackfruit and pomelo fruits are abundant in Ifugao. The capacity of the province and its people to provide these fruits to the country’s neighbor Taiwan is undisputed. The island-nation of Taiwan (Republic of China) suffers from a lack of arable land for sufficient food production.
The Philippines is one of the world’s top exporters of fresh fruits. There has been a strong interest of Taiwanese businessmen for many other fruits such as bananas and mangoes. In many ways, Ifugao is an excellent source of these fresh fruits.
Huge earnings from food exports would surely beneficial for entrepreneurs as well as minimum wage earners and members of the informal business sector.
Most Ifugao entrepreneurs and even ordinary folks are not aware of this fact, so they’ll be grateful if Director Baguidudol find a solution to the problem of their meager earnings by adopting a mindset of thinking big, going global and working together with the DTI-Ifugao Office- a mutually reinforcing synergy that is visible in every sari-sari store or business outlet that comes as a fruit of these partnerships. For it doesn’t take anything away from them.
So yes, KMMEP effectively symbolized the adoption of a better strategy to continue encouraging and supporting the growth of SMEs in the barangay (village) level.
Hopefully, for the thirty mentees fulfilling the requirements of the KMME course would be a more enriching thing to rekindle in the coming months and years. Attending the learning sessions without fail- rain or shine is worth the difficulty of enduring the program.
They are Vanessa Abenojar of Lagawe, Manganese Almeda of Aguinaldo, Leizl Marie Bacnog of Lagawe, Ermelinda Bahatan of Hingyon, Christopher Randy Bakakew of Asipulo, Jennifer Balubal of Lamut, Lyla Binonwangan of Lamut, Mildred Binuhe of Hingyon, Rossini Ranzo Sanchia Bunnag of Lagawe, Kathe Lallaine Bunnol of Lagawe, Christina Bunoy of Lagawe, Estherlyn Chocyagan of Lamut, Mae Rachel Doroja of Lagawe, Rhanjelhane Janryl Galap of Lagawe, Mharlene Jhoy Gamdutan of Hingyon, Jane Habbiling of Lagawe, Jocelyn Magastino of Banaue, Jennifer Malanta of Kiangan, Lyka Shaira Mallanta of Kiangan, Miriam Nadugo of Lagawe, Erlinda Pagado of Kiangan, Silvana Sabsal of Kiangan, Michael Taguyungon of Lamut and Epie Florence Tolentino of Kiangan.
In 2018, twenty one entrepreneurs took part in the program.
They were also inspired and motivated by Director Baguidudol, one of the Cordillera region’s accomplished public servants. To be highly-competent and educated, Director Baguidudol gave utmost priority to tapping men and women with expertise in various fields as mentors during the program. Then and now, Baguidudol shared to the mentees valuable insights on the operations and functions of the Go Negosyo Centers and other vital tools of the DTI such as the shared service facilities (SSFs).
Go Negosyo Centers serve as a one-stop shop for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by providing business name registration and business advisory services, and business information and advocacy. While SSFs improve competitiveness of MSMEs by providing machinery, equipment, tools, systems, skills and knowledge under a shared system. These SSFs seek to improve the quality of products and productivity of entrepreneurs.
On a broader perspective, many expect Director Baguidudol as their best hope to ramp up the government’s information awareness campaign in order to develop a conducive environment for sustainable businesses designed for uplifting conditions of remote, low-income communities. Outside of the DTI-Ifugao Office, no attempt has been made by provincial governments to correlate low performance of business establishments and rampancy of poverty in far-flung villages. A corollary dilemma is the seeming inability of the government to go beyond the rhetoric of devising social and economic structures to fit local conditions on the basis of the needs of the vast majority of the people, not on the basis of the needs of the few. True enough, it has singular negative impact on the poor.
Increased support for SMEs, especially in areas outside of the town proper, would help in propelling growth and development, especially in the countryside, to benefit the lives of Filipinos, particularly the poor and underprivileged. The highly-placed officials in the provincial government- not just those in the DTI-Ifugao Office, should spell this out in their agenda for the next three years in forthcoming public pronouncements is clearly significant. At the very least, or is it easier said than done? Too, how many times have folks heard that help is on its way for SMEs and only end up as “broken promises?”
Ifugao entrepreneurs, a businesswoman in Lamut explained, “have been through a lot of it for many years, Should we risk raising high expectations all over again?” An entrepreneur, by reason of common sense, need not think hard and long for an answer. **By Anthony A. Araos

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