Carving a better future

The Philippine furniture industry is one of the most labor-intensive and artistic industries in the country. Filipinos are known to be hardworking, creative and entrepreneurial. In Surallah, South Cotabato, a man named Renato Geraldez is known to be exhibiting such qualities through his enterprise.

Using pieces of wood as his canvass, he meticulously carves every single detail of his masterpieces onto them. His years of hard work in mastering his craft helped him provide his family a better life.

Humble beginnings

Renato grew up in a simple and happy family. “We are raised by our parents contented with what we have,” Renato shared.

In 1982, Renato decided to get married and was blessed with three children. With his big family but unstable financial income, the couple struggled to provide for the needs of their children.

He worked in a private company as a sculptor and earned from his crafts on a percentage basis. Unfortunately in 2001, he lost his job as the company he worked for filed for bankruptcy. This made him struggle even more to sustain the needs of his family.

When he lost his job, he decided to start his own small furniture business by tapping some friends who want to have chairs at an affordable cost.

“I worked day and night for my family, and luckily orders came from friends and neighbors. Then, I decided to grow our furniture business,” he added.

They continued to expand their business knowing that they already have little savings and few tools to use.

From small to growing business

In 2012, the CARD, Inc., A Microfinance NGO, provided an opportunity to further expand their business by allowing them to borrow capital.

CARD, Inc. is a member institution of CARD MRI that offers financial and non-financial services to microentrepreneurs to elevate their lives from poverty.

“It’s my late wife who was eager to join CARD. Aside from the PhP 5,000 we borrowed from CARD, she was also eager to avail its microinsurance products,” he recalled.

He also added that they used the borrowed money to purchase carving tools and raw materials.

He started to make personalized wooden crafts and home decors. Aside from making his crafts, he also offers shaping and lumber cutting services. His clients are now from the clients in nearby barangays.

Tatay Renato’s masterpieces became known for their quality. With this, CARD, Inc. Area Manager Marlon Baltero approached them to make tables and chairs for the unit offices in the area.

His business continues to become profitable. “We earn an average of PhP 8,000 to PhP 10,000 per contract from the orders; it really help us to support my youngest son who decided to take up Bachelor of Science in Criminology.”

Tatay Renato’s furniture shop keeps to be simple but already acquiring assets like better carving machines. He also stated that he is thankful with the assistance of CARD, Inc. in the area. “CARD never fails to help those people who want to elevate and improve their lives like us and we are hoping that we could purchase a vehicle to cater to more orders outside Surallah.”