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social enterprise with young Higaunons in Mintapod
“Kuya Sano, naa kay borrower’s slip?” asked by Robert Pinaabot, a 14-year-old Higaunon from Mintapod. “Manghulos unta kog 1/2 ug 1 inch concave chisel, 1 set flat chisel, spoke shave, usa ka martilyo ug gabas,” he added. This is the usual request that I hear from young people after a morning prayer at 8 o’clock in Mintapod.
Mintapod is one of the sitios of Barangay Hagpa, a Higaunon community, located in Impasug-ong, Bukidnon. It is approximately 40 kms from the Bukidnon national highway, far from the city life, far from such conveniences as electricity, jeepneys, groceries and mobile phone network connection.
In one group, Tenny Torres, one of the instructors, provides technical and design instructions to a group producing furniture set made from drift woods. “Pag request didto og bar level then electric sander sa stock room, paki sander sa kilid sa lingkoranan ug e-siguro nga level siya,” Sir Tenny instructs Edwin Naabot, the leader of Group 1.
“Jun ug Brian, paki set-up sa electric generator,” he added. “ Benyag paghulos og electric drill set then e-drill ang mga kilid sa table, paghimo dayon og tarugo para mao imo e-connect sa imo gi-drill,” he then advises Benyag Bio, a member of Group 2, who is producing a table from a century old root.
“Mao ni ang design ani nga round table, 80 centimeters ang radius, 20 centimeters ang height, with spoke sa base, oakwood ang finish,” he said as he shows the detail design to Alvin Migpanol, the production in-charge of the class.
These are just some of the instructions that Tenny provides to 20 young Higaunon students.
At first, I would ask myself, “Am I in a wood furniture workshop area?” Indeed I am on a real wood furniture workshop area, but just located in a small chapel, in the middle of a thickly forested area of the ancestral domain of the Higaunon People, 1,200 meters above sea level. And the energy, eagerness to learn and the works of these young Higaunons have really captivated me.
In a few hours, Annalyn Alenton, one of the instructors, focuses on entrepreneurship and convenes the Management Team to help them draft the Management Plan and the Policies, Systems and Procedures of the group.
As the clock ticks at 11 a.m. the assigned members of the food committee for the day will prepare lunch for the group. Rice, Odong with Tinapa and dried fish are the usual menu. But meal times are more exciting if they will include local vegetables and some meat from wild boar, deer or even frogs, to the usual fare.
At 4 p.m., Benny Cumatang, the social enterprise manager, will ring the improvised bell to signal the end of the day’s work. Everybody will then help clean their work area and return the borrowed tools and equipment from the stock room.
This has been the usual day for the last 10 days that the 20 young Higaunon of Mintapod have been busy with. This is also the result of the four-week existence of the Mintapod Technopreneurship Program, a community-based skills training cum livelihood and enterprise development program. This program is in partnership with the people of Mintapod, Agtulawon Mintapod Higaunon Cumadon (AGMIHICU), Skills Mastery Institute (SMI), Katilingbanong Pamahandi sa Mindanaw Foundation, Inc. (KPMFI), TESDA, and the Barangay and Municipal Local Government Units.
After four weeks, 20 young Higaunons in Sitio Mintapod were able to acquire the knowledge, skills and passion in creating exotic furnitures from drift wood and roots from cut trees. The group was able to produce six of such wonders.
But producing exotic furniture is just half of the process, as the other half involves making these products into an enterprise and make these young Higaunons into entrepreneurs. In other words, introducing them to social entrepreneurship – the process of synthesizing these acquired knowledge, skills and passion into entrepreneurship. This is staying true to KPMFI’s Core Business of “Helping Transform Poor Households to be Entrepreneurs.” In this case, making these young Higaunons into entrepreneurs.
Therefore, the process does not only stop at the production part and teaching these young Higaunons on the technologies of exotic furniture production. Equally important is looking into the marketing, management and financial aspects of the enterprise and the continuing formation of these young Higaunons.
For the remaining weeks of May 2011, the Management Team, composed of seven young Higaunons, will focus on these aspects. They will undergo test marketing and promotions with their products in Cagayan de Oro City and continue to draft the Marketing, Management and Financial Plan for their social enterprise.
Hopefully, the group will be able to finalize their business plan before their graduation on June 17, 2011. They will then present their business plan to their community and also to other stakeholders. They will become the first batch of the Mintapod Technopreneurship Program.
Though the journey is still far from over, but I am resolute that we are on the right track. Adopting a famous peace building adage, I could also say on this project, “It’s not only the journey’s end, but the way of journeying.”
[Susano “Sano” Balais, 32,
is the focal person on KPMFI’s Indigenous People Entrepreneurship
Program and the Team Leader of the Business Development Service Unit of
KPMFI – the Social Enterprise Institution of Balay Mindanaw Group of
NGOs. This is his account of his four-week journey with the young
Higaunons of Sitio Mintapod, Barangay Hagpa, Impasug-ong, Bukidnon.]