Cooling off the heat with ice cold buko, Davao vendors get P7.76M for small biz loans (Feature)

May 22, 2009 9:44 pm 

By Aurelio A. Pena

PANABO CITY, Davao del Norte, May 22 — Wiping off the sweat from his brow under the sweltering heat of the sun, street vendor Elmer Turingan, 27, poured ice cold buko juice into a clear plastic cup and served it to a waiting customer at a crowded street corner near the public market here.

“I’m running out of buko,” says Turingan, pointing to about 20 husked green coconuts piled up on the cart beside a large plastic container half-filled with big ice chunks floating on the coconut juice added with milk, sugar and water.

On a hot sunny day like this, Turingan can consume about 50 to 70 young green coconuts to make his “buko juice”. And there are hundreds like him all over the Davao region sprawling on the streets of towns and cities, helping cool off thirsty people perspiring during these hot summer months

This Panabo street vendor can earn from P500 to P800 daily just selling his concoction of buko juice working about six days a week — that’s about P20,000 a month, a typical salary rate for a supervisor or manager.

Turingan is one of the 1,562 street vendors, described by government as “informal sector workers” from all over the Davao region covering five provinces and 16 towns who benefited recently from the government’s “Grow Micro Program” which set aside P7.76 million to help them jump start their own “micro enterprises”.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) city director Teololu Pasawa said the “Grow Micro Program “is a local initiative which started recently 32 Microbiz Incubation Centers in the towns and provinces of Davao region that helped local vendors like Turingan get free training, business advice and small capital loan of P5,000 to start their own micro-size businesses.

Turingan was among hundreds in the region who wanted to sell ice-cold buko juice and needed a small low-interest loan to start his street vending business. Others like him turn to making and selling snack foods like turon, maruya, kwek-kwek, fried chicken meals, basket-making, handicrafts and other micro-enterprises that need very little capital of P3,000 or P5,000 to start immediately.

Traditionally, vendors like Turingan borrow their small capital from Indian 5-6 money lenders that charge 10 percent on the loan. Under the government program, only less than one percent is charge for the small loan.

In this new city of Panabo, some 30 kilometers north of Davao City, some 100 street vendors who applied for the government assistance program, received a total of P500,000 in small capital loans from the local government, according to Pasawa.

Pasawa is hopeful that government programs like this will help Filipinos become successful small entrepreneurs in this part of the country and help soften the impact of the global financial crisis in the Philippines. (PNA) DCT/AAP/lvp

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