Balabac, Palawan - Convenience stores are often overshadowed by giant supermarkets in the city, but for Sitio Malinsuno in Balabac, Palawan, sari-sari stores are important part of the community.
Being a thriving small town in the islet, Sitio Malinsuno is situated in the southernmost part of the province. All goods and services from the mainland are transported by water. Local residents literally rough their way to Barangay Buliluyan, (the last barangay at the southernmost tip of mainland Palawan) or to Barangay Rio Tuba (the most developed barangay in the municipality of Bataraza) to get their basic commodities.
Adding to the difficulty in transportation is that boats used to buy basic goods in the mainland are the same boats used for fishing as livelihood of the residents.
Aiding the Challenge through Small-Scale Enterprise
To aid in the inconvenient transportation of goods and services, the Department of Social Welfare and Development through the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) brought an alternative livelihood to residents in 2013.
A seed capital fund was released to 30 members of the Malinsuno Island SEA-K Association. After two years, members were able to pay the rollback amount to DSWD and were able to save Php 5,000.00 each. Then, majority of the members decided to pull out their savings to put up a community store in the village.
The Birth of Tindahan ng Malinsuno
Tindahan ng Malinsuno SEA-K Association began its operation in 2015 with two objectives: to sustain the benefits gained from the seed capital fund and to make basic commodities readily available and affordable in their community.
Aside from raising the initial capital for this project, the Malinsuno Island SEA-K Association members strengthened their capability as an organization to manage a community enterprise.
Through the assistance of SLP and other agencies, innovative policies were formulated through participatory processes. Aside from establishing the community’s credibility as an association, this also served as an avenue for the government to provide welfare assistance to the remote areas.
The continuous partnership between the partner stakeholders and the association led to the increase in their assets. After a year of operation, the community store was able to gain profit enough for each member to have a fair share of Php 8,000.00 and also to earn enough capital for the next cycle of its operation.
By the end of 2017, each member’s share has rocketed to an increase from a minimum of Php 10,000.00 up to a maximum of Php 14,000.00. At present, the community store is still rolling out for another cycle and its assets continues to increase.
Empowering Women, Empowering Community
Majority of members of the Malinsuno Island SEA-K Association is women. The implementation of SLP generated employment to these women. The birth of the community store organized and empowered the women as they now earn and provide income for their families. Aside from managing their household, they became key players in this microenterprise. Every member has his/her assigned schedule to man the store every day to sustain its operations.
This collective effort has brought a drastic change in the purchasing power and even the mode of purchase of residents. From crossing the sea to buy their day-to-day commodities for a relatively higher price, they are now able to acquire these on cheaper prices. In effect to the community, this has also neutralized the product pricing in the islet as other enterprises also lowered their pricing.
The birth of a convenience store that provided products at lower prices and supplied the needs of the local residents without them crossing the sea to go to mainland is a clear manifestation of the impact of small-scale enterprise to the community.