“We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.” – Mary Mcleod Bethune.

Sofia Nicole Cabrera, a 19-year-old graduate of Home Economics 1 Local Guiding and Tourism Promotion Services from Jesus F. Magsaysay Technical-Vocational High School (2023), is starting to pave her path toward the new youth.

In 2020, during the pandemic crisis lockdown, Sofia’s sister gifted her with a crochet materials gift set for Christmas. Supposedly viewed as merely a hobby, she found enjoyment in crafting various items. However, it wasn’t until a friend purchased her finished products—such as keychains, crochet flowers, and swimwear—and inquired about placing orders that her perspective shifted. This sparked her interest in turning her craft into a source of income, igniting her curiosity about entrepreneurship.

Amidst the challenges posed by the pandemic in 2021, she found herself navigating the complexities of being a senior high school student in grade 11 while simultaneously operating as a home-based seller. Leveraging social media platforms, she showcased her products through photos and video content. Despite being in the initial stages of her venture, she managed to secure two to three orders within the first three months, amounting to less than one thousand pesos in total sales. She then continued with her craft and marketing her items in social media.

On June 16, 2023, their school launched a Technical-Vocational Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Summit. The summit showcased the learners’ output products and marketed to the community to help them in their chosen specialization.

Sofia joined as a student participant/exhibitor, selling her products with a total of P1,200 sales.  One of the summit’s guests was Business Counselor (BC) Jhoana Rosalyn Pona of DTI Negosyo Center Castillejos. BC Jhoana provided a one-on-one product clinic, insights on product development, how to start a small business, and DTI programs and services like trade fairs.

After graduation, Sofia had to choose between employment and entrepreneurship.

“Back then, I had no idea how am I going to continue my business, and the only thing I knew was that as long as I did not stop, I believed my business would continue to grow. Guess what? It did. I had to earn my courage and let my guts do so.” Sofia said.

On November 2023, decided and eager to learn, Sophia visited the Castillejos Negosyo Center to inquire about the DTI Programs and Services. She was given business advice by BC Jhoana and invited to join the Castillejos MSMES Association (CMSMEA). Sophia joined the Zambales Paskuhan Trade Fair in Ayala Harbor Point, Subic Bay on December 1-9, 2023, and Castillejos Christmas Bazaar on December 16-24, 2023.

“I wasn`t mentally prepared for that; I didn`t have plenty of materials and products, yet I managed to finish the fair. I thought my life was miserable, I didn`t earn that much and didn`t know how am I going to make more sales. I used to earn below P3,000 a month and I thought that was going to be my forever monthly sales. Still, after joining the CMSMEA,  I earned more than P3,000 in just 9 days of my trade fair, and up until now I`m still amazed and beyond grateful for that. I earned extra pocket money to purchase my materials needed, became more productive on restocking and finally, I`m looking forward to increasing my monthly sales. As of now, I`m still a home-based business owner, and I only market my products on social media and personally to my friends and family.” Sofia said. To bring her business to new heights, she eventually registered her business name Crofia Handy Crafts on February 14, 2024.

Presently, Sofia is actively participating in the CMSMEA project, the Castillejos Pasalubong Center, and serves as the acting secretary of the CMSMEA.

Youth culture today emphasizes new trends in fashion, popular music, new technology, and social media. They are very vulnerable. They are set apart from other age group. But still, some youths are sharpening their saw as they enter the world of entrepreneurship with other age group transforming their aspirations into actuality . ♦

By: : Jhoana Rosalyn Pona – NCBC Castillejos, Zambales

Date of release: 28 February 2024