It’s no secret that 2020 was a challenging year for humanity. The global pandemic affected every aspect of life, including earning a living for many. Unfortunately, millions of people around the world lost their jobs due to the lockdown and countries like the Philippines are still struggling with the impact.
After seeing what was happening, one InfoTruster couldn’t sit idly by and watch. InfoTrust Foundation Advocate James Bryan Gonzales got creative.
With the help of the InfoTrust Foundation, he and his team kicked off an entrepreneurship program to help those who were affected by job loss and continue to be. The program provides assistance and guidance to aspiring entrepreneurs by selling frozen food (sausages, hot dogs, ham, chicken nuggets, processed pork, bacon, shanghai, and many more) with an interest-free line of credit for all goods. Because it’s an in-demand product (especially during the pandemic), the frozen food effort will be sustainable and encourage program participants to pay back the goods they’ll get so the Foundation can continue with other aspiring entrepreneurs.
“The program took a lot of planning since the initiative is in the Philippines and I’m currently located in the United States,” Gonzales said. “We had a goal: to empower individuals to earn a living during the global pandemic. We partnered with a local food distributor in the Philippines, Frozen Foodgasm, owned by my dear friend Ma. Lamuen Chu. We also hired students who are working part-time to do administrative tasks such as inventory, sales management, etc.”
The program allows 10 participants to get exposure and to experience firsthand how committed the InfoTrust Foundation is in giving back to its community, regardless if they are 8,373 miles apart. Gonzales hopes that the program benefit isn’t merely to the participants, but to anyone who comes in contact with it—as he says, “we’re hoping to encourage everyone to start a similar initiative even if it’s small. At the end of the day, the most important thing is we’re giving back to our community.”
Interestingly, 90 percent of the program’s participants are female. Gonzales says these are women who are helping their families to earn a very inspiring living—not only has it helped to provide food on the table, but it gives women an opportunity to have their own business.
“This program by InfoTrust Foundation and the trust that Ms. Ehm Chu gave to me has been a great help for me and my family,” said program participant Carmen Siena. “My husband was one of the people affected by the pandemic. He was struggling to make ends meet because of his unstable job—that is why I consider this program as a blessing. Also, it’s not just me and my family who are benefitting from this, but also my mom. Through my business, I can now provide my mother with her basic needs.”
After filling out a questionnaire, each aspiring entrepreneur was then evaluated to determine who would be the founding members of the program. Once selected, each program member undergoes training on taking inventory and other helpful topics such as sales tactics and marketing.
In order to ensure the participants are successful, the InfoTrust Foundation provides marketing materials for business promotion. Additionally, a mini contest was held over the summer; the winner received a freezer to hold their stock inventory. Gonzales hopes that in the future the program can support participants in expanding their business so that all have a freezer.
“I was a normal employee in a private company for six years,” said program participant Geneva Fadero. “During those times, I was always stressed—especially with the fact that my salary just slips out of my hand every time as everything is spent on necessities. I thought that I would be stuck in that cycle for a long time until Ms. Ehm encouraged me to start a small business with the help of the InfoTrust Foundation. I never expected that I would accumulate as many sales as I do now—in just a couple of months! Now, I am an HR manager and a businesswoman at the same time. The thought of me being able to juggle the tasks of my work and business also makes me happy. I am now moving forward to make my business larger. I am thankful to InfoTrust especially that I was given a freezer that I actually have been wanting for a long time.”
To ensure the project overseas and across the globe stays on track, Gonzales has a weekly status call with the Philippines team and also uses a project management tool to organize all tasks and track the program’s progress. He oversees, coordinates, and organizes the operations—which requires constant communication to all participants and local partners to ensure everything is running smoothly.
In just a few months’ time, the participants have accumulated 5x the total program budget of $3,000, reaching $30,000 in transactions. This is especially impressive given the average cost of products ranges from $3-$7. The group has made an estimated profit of $7,500.
“At the end of the day, our main goal is to provide a functional, operating, and profitable business to our participants,” Gonzales said. “We designed the program to be sustainable in the long run by initially funding the goods that they are about to sell. Once they sell the items, they can use the revenue to get additional products that they can sell. It’s all about compounding.”