Crystal Ali Solaiman grew up realizing that life wasn’t easy. She was a product of a broken family and suffered the consequences of being the collateral damage of a failed marriage. These circumstances made her more persistent in achieving a good life for herself and her future family.

Crystal’s humble beginnings as an entrepreneur started when she started selling “pinaypay”/banana fritters and banana cues together with her children in their hometown in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat. Because of her strong will to succeed, she started to put up a sari-sari store and trading business.

Her husband served as her ready business partner. Their successful tandem resulted in business expansion; adding rice, nipa, banana, and copra among products that they offer. Her vision in life to be economically independent has finally turned into reality.

But as a woman, Crystal felt the need to help her fellow women in their quest for economic freedom. Her eagerness to help them grew stronger every day. And so, she decided to organize the women in Barangay Barongins, Palimbang in Sultan Kudarat. These women are skilled in weaving nipa leaves into an eco-friendly and alternative roofing material.

Through her initiative and with the help of government agencies, the Palimbang Entrepreneurs and Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative (PEARBCO) was formed with Crystal as their General Manager.

Having formally organized their cooperative, Crystal took advantage of the training and seminars being offered the government agencies most especially that of DTI. It was through DTI that they were given training on food processing.

Currently, PEARBCO is producing banana chips, taro chip sticks, coconut vinegar, roasted coffee and rice, fish paste, and palapa – a traditional Maguindanao appetizer made of coconut meat and spices. They are also into product development by using local raw materials like “kaong” made from the fruits of nipa palm. This is still in its development stage but shows great potential as their next product.

Even though Crystal suffered the roughness of life, she managed to produce a crystal-clear success for herself, her family, and her community. She took the risks and broke the cultural barriers to empower her fellow women. In fact, she was the national winner of the Outstanding Rural Women 2019 of the Department of Agriculture.

Crystal is living proof of the adage “we never dreamed about success. we worked for it.”♦

Date of Release: 17 September 2020