Jocelia Barsaga – Philippines, San Rafael Center-Tondo Branch
Jocelia Barsage only completed the fifth grade of elementary education. Because of poverty, she decided to go with her cousin in looking for a job in Manila. She was only ten years old at that time. Fortunately, she was able to serve a kind family whose business was wholesale clothing trading. Some years later, Jocelia decided to apply as a seamstress at a garments factory. It was during her years in the factory when she met her future husband, Bonnie Barsaga.
When the couple’s two daughters came to their lives, they worked even harder to provide for their needs. For extra income, Jocelia started selling pork and chicken meat to their neighbors on weekends. When a friend introduced her to Mentors Philippines in March 2010, she used her first loan of Php 3,000 (approximately $61 US dollars) as additional capital in this small part-time enterprise.
The factory where the couple was working unfortunately closed due to bankruptcy. As the company sold its assets, Jocelia was able to purchase two units of sewing machines. Using her dressmaking and sales experience, she and her husband ventured into a small clothes-making business while at the same time continuing their meat retailing enterprise.
Although their sewing business struggled at first, Jocelia was able to find the right connections as she met former suppliers from the factory where she had been employed. With mutual trust and respect, she gained the confidence of these people until they started doing business with her. She became a subcontractor for t-shirts, blouses, pants, and almost every kind of Ready-To-Wear (RTW) products. Combining her Mentors Philippines loans and personal savings, she was able to accumulate thirty-seven units of different kinds of sewing machines.
With good interpersonal and business skills, Jocelia not only won the respect of her business partners, but she also has a close relationship with the people who work for her. Part of her success is the dedication of her loyal employees, most of them her neighbors. From the humble beginnings when it was only Jocelia and her husband working to make clothes, they now employ forty-three people in the production and delivery.
Jocelia has received 11 business loans from Mentors Philippines for a total of Php 435,000 ($8,820 US dollars). She now earns around Php 250,000 a month ($5,067 US dollars), an income many times better than what she earned as a factory worker. With her stable profits and good savings habit, Jocelina purchased four house and lot units, three of which function as their production area. The other unit serves both as their residence and a working area.
Recently this couple was able to acquire a second hand vehicle that they use for delivery. They continue to maintain a healthy savings: they have accounts in three different commercial banks and a savings account with Mentors Philippines. When asked what motivates them to succeed, they always say that they want their children to finish college and achieve more than what they have done.
It has been a rags-to-riches story for Jocelia. It is her determination, willingness to learn, and love for her family that propelled her towards success. She also said that in her heart, she would always be grateful for the things she learned from Mentors Philippines.