Standing Strong Against the Odds

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Mary Rose Javier, Junior Writer

“In the world of business, success is not guaranteed every time. Losses are possible, yet it’s essential to persevere and keep moving forward despite setbacks,” said Agnes Mercado, a thriving entrepreneur from Bagacay, Buenavista, Marinduque.

Agnes has been a client of CARD Bank, Inc. for one year when she opened her sari-sari store. She learned about CARD Bank through her sibling, and she was motivated to join knowing it would be a great help in starting a business.

With a PHP 5,000 loan from CARD Bank and the earnings from selling a cow, she managed to purchase a few products for her sari-sari store and fit them in a small hut that also serves as their home.

Despite its small space, their store retained good sales. Eventually, they gathered enough savings to initiate buying and selling of copras and charcoal. Because of their desire to increase their income, they immediately purchased ten sacks of coconut shells and turned them into charcoal that they could sell within their community.

The business idea came from Agnes’ husband, who worked in a copra processing facility. The couple decided to invest in purchasing coconuts, extract copras to sell oils and separate its shells to be sold for charcoal productions or turn them into charcoal.

Similar to any other start up business, she encountered numerous challenges. The lack of coconut resources posed a significant obstacle for them as they ventured into this new business.

“At first, our sales were very inconsistent due to frequent shortages of coconuts. Being inexperienced in the industry, we struggle to locate reliable suppliers, leading to insufficient inventories of coconut shells and limited sales of coconut oils,” Agnes said.

Throughout the pandemic, they suffered significant losses as the number of customers visiting their store started to decrease, accompanied by changing weather conditions that halted their operations. Agnes had no choice but to use her savings in CARD Bank to provide her family’s needs.

Amidst the challenges they faced, she remained steadfast and hopeful. With the help of her husband and the support of CARD Bank, they were able to rise again and resume their business.

“I got to the point where I attempted to borrow capital from various individuals but was not successful. Thankfully, CARD Bank was always there to provide our financial requirements,” she said.

Agnes slowly started to overcome the challenges she faced. Their coconut related business and sari-sari store grew overtime.

From ten sacks of coconut shells and charcoal, they now managed to sell between 50 and over a hundred sacks in nearby towns. Through this, Agnes was able to sustain the educational needs of her two children, managed to renovate their home, and established their own bakery shop in 2011.

“Despite the challenging and exhausting nature of our business that revolves around coconuts, I knew that it could bring me a lot of opportunities. I have remained optimistic, believing in myself that I can do it,” she said. Despite the countless challenges Agnes faced, her determination and efforts were the keys that led to her establishment of three successful businesses.

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