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Women entrepreneurs show how it's done amid adversity

They started small, but had big ambitions. And, they really mean business.

Three women entrepreneurs from Bulacan in the north of Metro Manila shared their journey into the challenging world of business and showed how they beat the odds.

Gloria Lupera, Jeanly Galicia Santiago and Jessica Marie Bellen Rosario learned there’s no magic pill for success, only hard work and perseverance of not giving up.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas cited its study with Asian Development Bank which said that 58 percent of women-owned micro small medium enterprises (MSMEs) cited lack of access to funding as an issue in doing business, against 37% of male-owned MSMEs.

Of the 1,000 MSMEs consulted in the survey, it was found that 45% of micro businesses were female-led, against 15% led by males. Most of the female-owned MSMEs are active in the wholesale and retail trade, accommodation and food services, and manufacturing.

The study said both men (78%) and women (64%) use their own funds to build up capital for their small businesses.

The central bank said financial institutions need to consider serving more female-owned MSMEs, which are disadvantaged in accessing capital relative to male-owned businesses.

In business in general, women’s power remains limited with an average 68% of firms across the world that did not have any women ownership, while only 16% were owned by women from 2010 to 2019, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTD).

Among the significant economic and social costs associated with women’s underrepresentation in business include lower economic growth and fewer decent employment, the UNCTD said.

Despite all adversities, these women entrepreneurs from Bulacan proved that perseverance, hard work, and determination can turn their small businesses into a success.

Gloria Lupera: Betting her future on corn


Before becoming a successful business owner of wholesale and retail store “GAL Supersweetcorn,” Gloria Lupera managed a corn cart in the market.

An eatery owner provides her a small capital to sell at least 100 pieces of corn a day to earn a living.  She goes to the same spot every day until she became a familiar face to customers.

Knowing she could not take on all jobs as she lacked a college degree, Lupera vowed to be the best corn vendor in town.

With every piece sold, she kept her earnings until she was able to save enough to rent her own stall.

“It’s challenging to be managing all aspects of the business.  I sell my products, look for suppliers, take care of deliveries, oversee the accounting aspect of the operations,” Lupera said in Filipino.

To know her product by heart, she said she also learned planting corn and the techniques on how to grow them.

“Typhoons can wipe away our crops. I don’t know how to recoup our losses.  But I can’t give up the business because I don’t have a college degree.  This is my only source of living,” she said.

From selling corns per piece, Lupera is now a wholesaler and retailer of corn in Balintawak market. At her business’ peak from 2005 to 2015, she said she can sell two to three truckloads of corns per day, with each truck having 20,000 pieces of the produce.

Lupera’s business was not spared by the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw her sales go down.  The rising prices of seeds, fertilizers and gasoline have also eaten up a chunk of her earnings.

She said her business is now on its recovery stage.  At the same time, she added she is eyeing venturing into other business like building transient homes.

“Farming is hard, it requires full attention,” she added.

Lupera said success in business chooses no gender, but requires the same basic traits of hard work and perseverance that women or men entrepreneurs must possess.

Meet Jeanly, the ‘pasa-buy’ queen


Former overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Jeanly Galicia Santiago said her business started with a jest that customers took seriously.

Santiago, a nurse, returned to the Philippines after almost six years in the United Arab Emirates with her goal accomplished – to save enough after her retirement from her day job.

“I am goal-oriented.  When I decided to work abroad, I told myself I should earn enough to tide me over when I return home.  I got everything planned, but not this business venture,” she said.

Her first business “Jeanly’s Pasabuy Cart,” which gets direct pre-order of items from Dubai, UAE, and United States, came out as a simple jest in her “my day story” on Facebook and Instagram last 2020.

“I posted an entry on social media jokingly asking whoever wants an item from abroad, I would be willing to help,” she said.

Since then, she said orders poured in, necessitating her complete focus on her “accidental” business.

Trying her luck in business for the second time, Santiago and her husband bought the Milk Breeze food and refreshment hub after finding out that it was being sold on “sale” price.

It currently has three branches in Angat and Norzagaray, Bulacan. Santiago said she still wants to expand her business in several towns of Bulacan.

“Let’s just say we started with five digit capital then and we’ve been playing seven digit now,” she said.

Santiago, however, shared that competition in food and online selling is challenging.

“There are people selling food everywhere, and with everyone’s access to the internet, more and more are also into online selling,” she said.

On initiatives in Congress to tax online sellers, she said the idea is good but small sellers should be exempted.

“Tax helps economic growth. I’m in favor of it but with the exemption for small time online sellers, I'm just hopeful that politicians will turn into a true public servant now so everyone will benefit from it justly,” she said.

Sharing her “secret” to success, Santiago said it rooted from three qualities — being purpose driven, having integrity, and being persevering

“Whatever challenges, obstacles and self doubt that come your way, keep moving forward,” she said.

“In business, it’s not Christmas every day.  It’s not always a win.  But just keep going.  Every successful business has experienced challenges,” Santiago added.

For Jessica Marie Rosario, lip tint is life


Businesses come in all shapes and sizes, and this certainly holds true with Jessica Marie Rosario’s lip tint business.

With only P3,000 as capital, the business has found its niche into the Filipino’s beauty regimen.

Rosario said her product did not always sell well.  But this did not deter her from constantly marketing it and studying how it would fit into the consumers’ needs.

“You just need to love what you do,” she said.

Rosario said she was the business-minded type since she was student.

“I felt I can sell anything under the sun,” she said recalling her high school years.

In her business, she learned that “managing a distributorship business is not easy.”

She lamented that her people sometimes come and go.  Some of her business partners have also become the cause of her in pursuing entrepreneurship.

She is now a business coach and brand owner of Jessy&Co, Skinny Brew Wellness, and Kagayaki beauty products.

“Put your heart in what you do.  Never think of giving up.  Do not give up.  Now is the best time to do business. Be consistent, success doesn't come from what you do occasionally. It comes from what you do, consistently,” Rosario said.

Gov’t interventions, equal opportunities

The women entrepreneurs said government's support will boost businesses and aid workers in the country.  They said there should be equal opportunities for women and men.

Lupera called for subsidies for the farmers, encouraging the government to promote the local products.

“Subsidies for farmers are essential, especially as they are frequently struck by calamities,” she said

She also added that government should import less and enhance local industries, including production.

“We have vast lands that we can cultivate, let’s use them,” she said.

Right now, Lupera lamented the situation is not in favour of farmers who till the soil under the heat and rain, but can only sell their crops at cheap prices.

Lupera also said that there must be equal opportunities for every Filipino, adding that there should not be any discrimination between men and women in handling business.

“There shouldn't be any difference between women and men when it comes to business. However, when you're a woman, you really need to work twice and face a lot of adversities because women are often seen as weaker,” she said.

Santiago proposes financial funding and marketing support from the government, especially for small businesses.

“First, I suggest funding. Help the dreamer turn his dream into reality through financial support. Second, marketing support. Simply posting a new business announcement in the social media page of the local unit could help,” she added.

Santiago then advised Filipina entrepreneurs to stop self-doubting and take risks.

“Act now. Who cares if you fail or not? Stop doubting yourself.  You will notlearn if you will not try,” she said.—LDF, GMA Integrated News