“I only completed my 5th year of schooling and now look at my daughter today, she is a university graduate! I started with two sewing machines that I purchased second hand. Today I own four housing units. Three for my business, and one for my family. I made sure that the clothes we produce are of high quality, and my buyers trust me and know that I am honest and dependable. I am so grateful to Mentors Philippines for teaching me the business skills, and providing the financial support so that I could create the successful business that I own today. In my heart, I will always be grateful for the things I have learned from Mentors Philippines.”

Jocelia Barsaga, Cebu Philippines

With parents who had an obsession for gambling, Jocelia learned at an early age to find ways to support herself and her siblings.  She used to buy soft drinks on credit, which she then sold to fishermen docking on the port in their hometown of Camotes Island, Cebu.  Most of the time she was paid with fish in exchange for the soft drinks, and she would then sell the fishes so that she could have money to pay for the soft drinks and provide a little something extra for her family.

Jocelia finished only the fifth grade of elementary education, and because of poverty, she decided to go with her cousin to look for a job in Manila. She was only 10 years old at that time, but fortunately, she ended up serving a kind family whose business was in clothes trading. Some years later, she also learned the trading business until she decided to apply as a seamstress at a garment factory. It was during her years in the factory when she met her future husband, Bonnie Barsaga.

When the couple was blessed with two daughters, they worked even harder to provide for their needs.  For extra income, Jocelia started selling pork and chicken meat to her neighbors on weekends. When a friend introduced her to Mentors Philippines, she used her first loan of Php 3,000 as additional capital in this small part-time enterprise.

Unfortunately, the factory where the couple was working closed due to bankruptcy.  As the company sold off its assets, Jocelia was able to purchase two units of sewing machines with a loan from Mentors Philippines.  Using her dressmaking and sales experience, she and her husband ventured into a small clothes-making business, while at the same time still continuing their meat retailing enterprise.

Although the sewing business struggled at first, Jocelia was able to find the right connections as she met former suppliers in the old factory where she used to work. With mutual trust and respect, she gained the confidence of these suppliers until they started doing business with her. She became a subcontractor for t-shirts, blouses, pants, and almost every kind of RTW products. Some of the Chinese businesspeople she met helped her to buy the sewing equipment they needed on installment. Combining her Mentors Philippines loans and personal savings, she was able to accumulate a total of 37 units of different kinds of sewing machines.

With good interpersonal and business skills, Jocelia has 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 whom are her next-door neighbors. From humble beginnings when it was only Jocelia and her husband working to make clothing, they now employ 43 people in production and delivery.

Jocelia had been granted 11 business loans from Mentors Philippines for a total of Php 435,000. She now earns around Php 250,000 a month, an income many times better than what she used to earn as a factory worker. With this very good profit and careful savings habit, she was able to acquire 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 as well.

In addition to these, the couple has also acquired a second-hand vehicle that they use for delivery. They 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.  (As mentioned earlier, Jocelia was only able to finish 5th grade, while her husband had some high school.)

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.

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