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Pili oil puts microfirm in spotlight

/ 05:14 AM December 08, 2017

WINNERS ALL National Selection Committee members (from left) Ayala Corp. president Fernando Zobel de Ayala, Presidential Consultant on Entrepreneurship Jose Ma. A. Concepcion III, BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier, Inquirer chair Marixi R. Prieto, Citi Philippines CEO Aftab N. Ahmed, SPARK! Philippines trustee Imelda M. Nicolas and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez

A Bicolana who has found a new use for pili is the 2017 national winner of the Citi Microentrepreneurship Award (CMA).

In simple ceremonies at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Merle Paete of Bacon, Sorsogon, a pili nut trader who has started to produce oil from the fruit, received a trophy, P200,000 and a laptop.

Paete had been engaged in the buying and selling of pili nuts and woven mats when she discovered that she could extract oil from the pili fruit’s pulp that is often discarded.

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Not only did she find a way to reduce waste from her business and use almost every part of the pili (shells are sold as alternative fuel for stoves) but she also found a promising new product.

Paete said pili oil was found to be a good base for cosmetics and liniment for muscle pain relief. It could also be a good cooking oil as it did not get rancid as quickly as coconut oil, for instance.

The enterprising Bicolana is now working on getting the proper permits from the Food and Drug Administration to expand the market for her new product.

Honored with Paete were Reynante Manimtim of San Juan, Batangas, regional awardee for Luzon, rolling food carts; Mimosa Cortez of Manapla, Negros Occidental, regional awardee for Visayas, crab processing; Ivy Millare of Koronadal City, regional awardee for Mindanao, buko pie business; Keith Varias of Alfonso, Cavite, Youth Microentrepreneur of the Year, computer center; Carmelita Dapanas of Misamis Oriental, special awardee for agri microbusiness, semi-hydroponic vegetable farming; Abdulia Austria of Palawan, special awardee for community leadership, boat rentals; and Rowena Manalo, Bacoor, Cavite, driftwood business.

The microfinance institutions (MFIs) that supported the entrepreneurs’ modest business ventures were also honored, each receiving a plaque of recognition, while the officers who handled their accounts received P10,000 each in acknowledgment of their assistance.

CMA winners will also receive training and mentoring to help them sustain and further grow their businesses and life insurance.

The annual CMA, now on its 15th year, is a joint undertaking of Citi Philippines, BSP and Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc.

Aftab Ahmed, chief executive officer of Citi Philippines, said the winners shared a passion for and commitment to their enterprise and the ability to overcome adversity.

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Instead of being discouraged by failure, they found the strength to try again.

“Each year, it becomes increasingly difficult to choose the winners,” he said, because the nominees were better.

Chuchi Fonacier, BSP officer-in-charge, said the winners were a testament to the success of microenterprise to uplift the lives of people.

“CMA has achieved so much in a short time in promoting microenterpreneurship,” she said.

The winners were chosen not just for what they had achieved but for their potential to accomplish more, Fonacier said. She underscored the need to strengthen efforts to promote microentrepeneurship as she pointed out that millions of Filipinos still lived below the poverty line and had no access to financial resources.

Marixi Rufino Prieto, Philippine Daily Inquirer chair and a member of the National Selection Committee (NSC) that chose the annual winners, said it was amazing how microentrepreneurs were able to achieve so much with just P4,000, the average initial loan they got from MFIs to start or expand their business ventures.

This year’s NSC also included Antonino Alindogan, Jose Ma. Concepcion III, Teresita Sy-Coson, Felipe L. Gozon, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, Mary Ann M. Montemayor, Imelda M. Nicolas, Dr. Michael L. Tan, Orlando B. Vea and Fernando Zobel de Ayala.

In her response, Paete said “patience, hard work and perseverance” were needed to achieve success. She said many women had to find gainful activities to help their husbands and augment the family income to send their children to school.

“My story is the story of these women,” she said.

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TAGS: Citi Microentrepreneurship Award (CMA), Merle Paete, pili nut, Pili oil
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