Despite the spiraling cost of living, Nenita Solon of barangay Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City, is not losing hope for a better future for her family as she gains headway in her balut trade today. Not that life for this 46-year-old wife and mother has been easy. But she believes that it is possible for one to achieve a better quality of life through a no-nonsense dedication to one's occupation, hard work, patience,thrift and determination to succeed.
Nenita, who is Neneth to friends,had a long, tiring day yesterday tending to the demands of her growing balut business, retiring quite late. Yet today, she was up by 4:30 a.m.for yet another day of the trade that has come to ease economic pressure of her family and which she finds potentials of success.
As soon as she got out of bed, she looked at her record of the previous day's work-how much was remitted by the balut vendor against the number of balut she disposed. She saw that most of her vendors have paid promptly. By 5 a.m., she was ready to cook the eggs for distribution later in the day. She cleans the eggs in a big basin half-filled with water. By 2 p.m., a long line of vendors wouid form before- her four-by-six meter-shop.Nenita disposes from 300 to 600 baluts daily from which she nets an average of P500 a day.
Neneth, who took three years of agriculture in college, is a natural entrepreneur. Her husband worked as school watchman in the town of Bilar, Bohol. Neneth helped her husband by selling homemade goodies such as buko bar, turon, fruit cake, yema candies and polvoron. Between them, the two were able to send their two daughters to college, both taking commerce courses. The elder: daughter failed to get her degree because she got married, but the younger daughter completed the course.
"I engaged in whatever possible business there was," Neneth said in Cebuano. She said she often came up to userers, specially for money to pay her girls' tuition fees.
But in 2001, she was able to take out a P10,000-loan to start a balut trade. Then, her life started to change for the better.
"Lahi na gyud karon nga na-miyembro na ko sa coop (My membership with a co-op made the difference)," she said, referring to the Mindanao Savings & Credit Cooperative (MinSave), a member borrower of the Federation of Pcople's Sustainable Development Cooperative (FPSDC). Compared to the sky-high interest rates charged by the 5-6 lenders, MinSave charges only 24%,o 27% per annum to their member-borrowers.
Neneth used the loan from MinSave to buy 18-day old baluts from Vaiencia, Bukidnory at P5 each. She then sold the eggs at P6.50 each to balut vendors. When she proved to be a good payor, MinSave let her borrow a bigger loan of P35,000 in 2003.
"Ako lang pagka-tawo ng akong gi-capital sa MinSave (I used my own person as collateral with MinSave)," she said. Malu Alipoyo, branch manager of MinSave Carmen (Cagayan de Oro City), said that Neneth alwavs did pay promptiy.
The bigger loan from MinSave allowed Neneth to expand_her balut trade. Instead of going around to sell the eggs, she bought a three-boxed incubator which could contain as many as 12,000 fresh eggs, which allowed her to become a suppiier to other balut vendors. More and more balut vendors (including trisikad drivers and, students during school break) came up to her applying as balut vendor.
Neneth said that two high school students, of ages 13 and 74, get balut from her. Each owns over P100 a day. "Kagahapon, nalipay gyud sila kay nakapalit sila og bag-ong t-shirts gikan sa ilang kita" (They are happy since yesterday they were able to buy new tshirts from their earnings,) she said.
To encourage them and help them earn a good income, Neneth supplies some of her vendors with steamers (a gas stove keeping the baluts hot). She says she is trying to compete with big suppliers from as far as the cities of Cotabato and Ozamis who also supply balut to Cagayan de Oro. These traders,says Neneth, sometimes undercut their competitors by slashing their selling price.
Neneth is now saving to buy additional incubators and other needed equipment. "Perhaps, a delivery car,'she quipped.
"Ang challenge nako sa uban nga ilang tagaan og pagtagad ang negosyu ug dili madiscourage kung medyo kini mohinay (I challenge others to try entrepreneurship and should not become discouraged if ever their business slows down)," she said.
"Kinahanglan usab ang kakugi, gamay nga pag-antus ug pagdaginot apilan sa pag-ampo(Hard work, thrift, a little patience, and prayers are also needed)," she concluded. -Yul S. Caringas