SEED for Mindanao


By: Beve Villas-Kintanar

Seed has an inner life within a hard outer coat.  The hard outer coat needs to be broken in order for the inner life to be released.  It does not matter whether there is life within; it matters that the outer coat be broken in order for the release of life within.

SEED Mindanao is Sustainable Economic Enterprise and Development for Mindanao.  From its title, it uses the coined word SEED.  This is categorically, the seed with an inner life within the hard outer coat.  The economics, enterprise and development remain dormant or inactive until conditions are right to build up.  Seed Min was resting waiting for the right condition to develop.  Seed Min certainly seems dead.  It does not seem to move, to grow nor do anything.  Assuming that the seed is still viable, the life inside the seed coat needs to be activated to start growing.  The process of getting the seed to grow can be simple or complicated, and this is how Seed Min is featured.

On December 2012, DTI Lanao del Norte was inviting some LGU personnel to go for a benchmarking tour in Cebu.  Sir Ladislao Tabanao Jr. was cordially invited to go with the group.  He welcomed the invitation to go with the group but with no business intentions may be.  To his amazement, seeing the different handicraft manufacturing, especially the basket making; he saw a potential of venturing a business on basket weaving.  The enterprising within him was enlivened believing this can be done; knowing that he is too familiar with the raw materials needed.  He grew up with the environment where these kinds of grasses are plentiful in the surrounding.  The enthusiasm was so great that he right away suggested for a PO incase he can make arrangements back home.  33 Point 3 Export, Inc., one of the handicraft company using the Lampakanay grass, optimistically offered a PO to Sir Ladi.  It was so fortunate that 33 Point 3 Export, Inc. shared the same enthusiasm with Sir Ladi that stunned himself of the optimistic respond even without a legitimate business to back with.

Back home, sensing the huge demand, he checked right away where the grasses grow abundantly and start talking with the owners of the area.  Judging that raw materials are just available, so does the would-be-workers – the weavers.   The economics started to surface with the initial activity on organizing workers, training, start of production, finding clients for distribution and consumption of goods locally.  Equip only with hunches, Sir Ladi felt the urge of creating job locally.  The once useless grasses now collected and dried properly, twisted and are already raw materials for basket weaving. Twisted or weaved translate into income.  Backed with minute funding, the convinced workers stayed and started producing.  It may sound a simple way of economics – with a simple grass to a simple twist to make a simple basket from a simple weaver of a simple lifestyle in a simple locality gaining a simple livelihood.

The complicated part may be in the development and sustaining stage, but, the hard outer coat is beginning to give way what is hidden inside.   Economics and enterprising are starting to emerge.  There is a need for the right condition to release the life within.  In order for it to sustain, it must be laid in a solid foundation.  With the right learning attitude of workers, good logistical support, steady production, proper documentation, extensive client contacts, with prompt payments, Seed Mindanao come into view.

Seed Min is a work in progress as workers come and go and so does the PO.  Seed Min is launching to build a trade name, maintained by an association of workers, acknowledged by the local government, introduced in the market; thus, unlimited potential of earnings is underway.  Part of the profit will go to the scholarship fund program of the weavers’ children’s needs in school.  Seed Min helps to create more decent, sustainable jobs that can lift people in the community out of poverty.

Being an entrepreneur is being able to identify, start, and maintain a viable and profitable business particularly a small enterprise.   The benchmarking tour was significant for Sir Ladi to be able to identify opportunity on Lampakanay.  He is committed to take responsibility to overcome obstacles along the way.  He continues to push on people for a work be done better and faster.  He never stops trying to locate clients, suppliers and competitors to develop logical steps in order to reach a goal.  He is able to establish business and personal contacts to accomplish objectives and more importantly, he possesses confidence in his own ability to complete a difficult or unknown task or meet a challenge.  The goal:  short term, offer local market; long term, exporting goods direct from Mindanao.  Thus Seed Min, though in an infant stage, is starting to bud to life in the market.

It is hoped that people buy our own products.  These products are handcrafted by the skilled workers in the community whose wishes are to send their children to school, sustain their needs and boost their livelihood.  When you buy a basket product, you are preparing a child to get out from a nutshell to the world of education.  Allow that innocent mind inside convert to become a useful and productive citizen for his generation.

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