CENTER stage this month are our women entrepreneurs, producers, artisans and even double-duty moms. We start with our women from remote areas but who made a difference in their communities.
Princess Kumalah Sug-Elardo
Princess Kumalah Sug- Elardo is our coffee rock star. Though she has been written about many times and have been receiving one award after another, Princess remains humble and grounded.
Recently, she again gave lectures and training on how to pick the best coffee cherries in her Panamao, Sulu vicinity. Through the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA), The Philippine Coffee Board Inc. (PCBI), Peace and Equity Foundation (www.pef.ph) and LandBank, she is able to deliver the message about quality coffee to her 13,000 or so beneficiaries. From zero income in 2009, the community now achieved P120,000 income per year per family as of her 2014 report.
She has also changed or improved her community’s diet from just sweet potatoes to rice and fish. The cooperative which she chairs, People’s Alliance for Progress Multi-Purpose Cooperative (PAP-MPC) has contributed to peace in her area because everyone is now employed or gainfully earning through coffee harvesting, making coffee baskets and other skills she has brought to the once forgotten community.
She has gotten assistance from the Departments of Agriculture, Trade and Industry, and Science and Technology, illar Foundation, MAP-ABCD Foundation (where she attends meetings every month) and PCBI, IWCA and JICA among many other NGOs. In fact, she even attends JICA seminars with another senior citizen, Pah Salih Ahalul, founder of the Jolo landmark Dennis Coffee Shop.
Women like Princess not only sets good examples for true peace and a thriving economy for our marginalized brothers and sisters in Sulu, she also sets an example that no one is too old to learn something new everytime.
Imelda Ahalul Dagus
Another lady of Muslim descent is entrepreneur Imelda Ahalul-Dagus who hails from Sulu but will set up her first café called Dennis Coffee Garden in Zamboanga City.
Imelda left her native Jolo, worked in Oman for over 20 years and is finally back home. With her savings as an overseas Filipino worker (OFW), she acquired a property in the center of Zamboanga (near the airport) and will soon serve famous sati, assorted snacks called bangbang, and other Jolo-inspired meals with Sulu coffee, of course. She is calling the place Dennis Coffee Garden as it is a sprawling property with trees and landscaped gardens behind the coffee shop building.
Though she could not get her desired loan from OWWA and LandBank, she remains undeterred to pursue her goals. We hope that she can be a shining example of a sustainable business venture beyond her OFW stint.
Imelda is a picture of hope, of peace in Mindanao, and of an inspiring story of how one can learn business from exposure in their work as OFWs.
We wish you well, Imelda. Just by starting this business to carry on the family heritage in coffee, we are already so proud of you.
Fe Gagno Ate Fe, as we call her, is pushing 70 but still drives Princess to her meetings and delivers coffee when needed. She is an accountant by profession but has long retired. She then became Princess’ consultant, partner-in-business and all-around companion. She also delves in real estate deals when Princess in not in town.
When I see this duo, Princess and Ate Fe, I feel hopeful that seniors should not retire but refresh themselves and go on leading another career or another life. They are two women with the same goal, keeping at it and delivering results.
She tells me that she recently did an audit of Princess cooperative’s financial reports and is happy to report their growth. Beyond our imagination, this little cooperative of Princess now has a lot of financial muscle. Thanks to people like Ate Fe who help them put their papers in order. Something many entrepreneurs forget to do.
There you go. Three women who do amazing things, all related to coffee. Inspiring and sustainable.
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Chit Juan is the Founder and President of ECHOstore Sustainable Lifestyle located in Serendra , Podium,Centris, Davao City, Makati and Cebu .She is the President of Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. She often speaks to corporates, academe and entrepreneurs about her advocacies: Social Enterprise, Women Empowerment and Coffee. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Twitter@Chitjuan, Instagram: CHITJUAN or Linked In: Pacita Juan.