They gave me wings
How I wish that my three older children can go back to school”, Prescilla sighs. The first three of the seven children of Prescilla and Will have finished high school but due to lack of money, they could not pursue further education. Rose Ann, 20 and Sandra, 17, are helping their mother in processing coco sugar. Rey An, 18, assists his father mind the coconut farm where they collect the coco toddy for their coco sugar business.
Prescilla became a CARD member in December 2010 and a couple of months later, in February 2011, she became a CARD BDS member. Will and Prescilla have been producing coco sugar since 2008. The couple learned how to process coco sugar from a niece whose college thesis was on this product. They started with a capital of P7,500. They have experimented with the process until they were satisfied with the end result and convinced that the product was in a marketable form. However, their volume of production was very limited due to lack of capital for the procurement of coconut toddy. This limited volume was sold to selected local individuals who were looking for a substitute for sugar for health reasons and a local doctor who sells the sugar to his diabetic patients. Prescilla augments their income by sewing curtains and selling other products which they produce from coconut like coco vinegar and coco jam.
“We only cook coco sugar every other day. There’s a lot of heat from the stove and we don’t want to be exposed to it daily”, says Prescilla. Their cooking area, a thatched structure around 16 square meters, is located several feet away from their house. Its roof is low and smoke from the wooden fire easily fills the entire space. When BDS released their P75,000 loan in April 2011, the couple used P50,000 to build a more spacious cooking shed with concrete flooring and GI sheets for the roofing. The new structure is three times bigger than the old one. It is better ventilated and there is more room for a few people to move around more freely. To increase their supply of coco toddy and their volume of coco sugar production, Will leased a coconut farm for P25,000.
Through BDS, their coco sugar was able to penetrate a big chain of supermarkets in Albay. Prescilla continues to sell to her doctor client but directs the other individual clients to the supermarket which carries her product. The family used to have an income of P20,000 per year. Now,
less than six months after their loan release, they have already earned P36,000, of which, P31,000 came from coco sugar. They still cannot fill up the volume orders of the supermarket due to the size limitations of their operations. But plans are being laid out for meeting their client’s volume requirements.
Prescilla looks back and quips, “Before, I wanted to fly but I didn’t have wings. CARD BDS helped me grow wings”. Now she is more confident because her product has a sure market. She is more comfortable in providing solutions to everyday problems like food needs. She said she has learned a lot from the BDS seminars. Not only has she gained skills in managing cash and saving to pay a loan, she now also has a better understanding of people and relationships. She used to feel that she was not good enough to be trusted with a loan. With her new-found confidence, she declares she is now capable of borrowing.
“I think, any of the three older children can go back to school soon”, says Prescilla with a smile on her face.
~ Priscilla Brigola