Empowerment through entrepreneurship is not a new idea. What’s different about this initiative, though? It gives people the freedom and support they need to actualize their potential in ways they never thought possible!

This philosophy was how Davie Villocino got the idea to set up a One-Stop Shop for products made by the women of Maco, Davao de Oro. Seeing what women empowerment could do to a community amid the current pandemic, she was inspired to pursue and help these women become more self-reliant.

How the One-Stop Shop was Born

Davie founded the Municipal Council of Women of Maco (MCoW) because she saw a lot of potential from the livelihood products that were produced at home by the councils of women in Maco, Davao de Oro.

These products were food and drinks such as organic coffee, boneless Bangus, chorizo, bread, banana chips, taro chips, and camote chips. The women of Maco also produced household necessities like dishwashing liquid and women’s garments. However, while these goods are profitable, Davie discovered a pressing issue she must address.

“The idea of my business was based on the fact that many livelihood products created by people are useful and have the potential to sell. However, these were not properly marketed and, more so, difficult to access,” said Davie.

Promotion and accessibility are two important factors that led Davie to create a platform for livelihood products. The One-Stop Shop was then born.

The One-Stop Shop would provide a place for them to sell their products and for people in the community to buy them. This would help the women generate income and support their families while providing the community with much-needed products.

This platform is easily accessible by everyone and can be efficiently advertised on social media. Through the One-Stop Shop, Davie hopes to provide a convenient location for people to purchase them.

“The main mission of my business is to revive the livelihood projects of the women in the municipality and give them a platform to sell and market their creativity. I see my enterprise as the leading business in Maco, marketing products mostly homemade.”

Davie has always been a risk-taker. When she decided to start her own business, she invested Php 30,000 and recruited staff to help her market the products to co-workers and the women’s council members. Thanks to feedback and recommendations from her clients, the business gradually grew.

After observing the market, she understood what the customers want and developed concepts for items she thought people would like. Women’s council members offered extra input, which helped boost sales.

How DTI Gave More Power to MCoW

The Department of Trade and Industry helped the MCoW through the SSF or Shared Service Facilities. Through this program, the DTI recommended that they use the Compostella Valley bamboo craft facility to improve the quality of their products.

Through this initiative, the members of the organization were able to improve not only the quality of their products but also their marketing skills. As a result, the organization gained more presence in the area.

Harnessing the Power of Social Media

The year 2020 was a difficult time for the organization and its members. With outbreaks of the COVID-19 pandemic hitting Philippine shores, businesses became limited as people could not go out and spend money due to job losses or lockdown of production facilities. The pandemic led to MCoW’s sales declining, making business more challenging than ever.

But Davie did not give up! She found new ways to keep her business going — and the answer was social media. Since everyone was confined to their homes, Davie used the power of social networks to connect with people to promote their products not only in Davao de Oro but also in places she could not have easily reached.

Davie related, “In the face of this pandemic, the power of the internet is more realized and appreciated. I harnessed this power to market my products online so people can still buy on a delivery basis.”

Despite the situation, MCoW was able to improve its operations and cater to the needs of the people, thanks to social media.

They kept their Facebook page and other social media accounts updated, making people aware of MCoW’s products and what they can order online.

According to Davie, the products remained in demand, and the revenues were enough to keep the business going. They have also added new products such as wooden tables, rattan chairs, Lechon trays, flower stands, and fish trays to sell online. Right now, they are planning to explore crafting souvenirs that highlight the unique features of the Municipality of Maco.

Moving Forward

Maco’s long history of female empowerment was never more evident than during the COVID-19 crisis. Davie saw the opportunity to uplift her fellow women by giving them a venue to sell their products and earn a living, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Now, through DTI’s assistance, Davie and the members of MCoW will be more confident that they can weather any storm coming their way. ♦