“Yes we can! PWDs prove entrepreneurship is for everyone”

October 12th, 2017

GNSR Web Header Oct 11
On October 11, 2017, Go Negosyo Radio hosts Sen. Bam Aquino & DJ Cheska San Diego-Bobadilla featured two entrepreneurs who have proven that disability doesn’t translate to inability to succeed. Richard D. Arceno of Bigay Buhay Multipurpose Cooperative and Jennifer Lampaz of Magic Hands Enterprise shared their stories of triumph amidst adversity through engaging in entrepreneurship.

Magic Hands Enterprise

The episode kicked off with Jennifer “Jenny” Lampaz. A previous writer in a television network, Jenny found herself investing her downtime in crocheting. Her quality work caught the eye of her neighbours who asked if she could teach them how she made her products, which were mostly bags at first. She agreed on the condition that she will provide the materials and training while the others will do the labour. Eventually, Jenny’s business grew so much that she quit her job as a writer to pursue the business full-time.

Another factor that motivated Jenny was that many of the people she trained were employing her crocheting technique and design and creating their own businesses. Seeing that there was a market for her product, Jenny decided to create new designs to battle competition. Her work captured the interest of Ms. Flor from the Department of Trade and Industry in Malabon. The DTI Malabon office was looking for their first batch of entrepreneurs to feature in the opening of the Malabon Negosyo Center. Upon seeing Jenny’s products, she was recommended and was eventually contracted to display her products in their opening exhibit.

Today, Jenny’s growing enterprise called Magic Hands is continuously innovating by creating new designs and techniques for crocheting. Her experience as a PWD entrepreneur has mostly been positive due to a strong support system through her family. Jenny was sick with polio when she only one-year old which resulted in her current disabled state. Jenny however, never saw hey disability has a hindrance. Her mother especially made sure that Jenny led a normal life. Jenny shared that she grew up not really paying much attention to her disability. She was even able to graduate as a Computer Programmer from STI Makati. However, upon graduation, Jenny was exposed to the discrimination of PWDs when she tried to enter the corporate world. In fact, Jenny recounts a specific job interview wherein she was told that PWDs were not being considered for the position. She expressed her frustration with the company for not indicating this condition on the job description and she was reduced to tears in the company bathroom. She remained resilient however, and today, encourages others like her to not give up and that they may find inspiration is everywhere.

Bigay Buhay Multipurpose Cooperative

Our second guest, Richard D. Arceno, has been the face of rallying for equal opportunities for PWDs. A previous representative of the PWD sector, Arceno established the Bigay Buhay Multipurpose Cooperative to empower and give opportunities to PWDs in the Philippines. Arceno was born with a disability that restricts the movement of his hands and feet. Growing up, he thought graduating from college would guarantee him a job and a stable life. However, PWDs were largely discriminated upon in the hiring process of many companies. Arceno realized that there were many like him and decided to form the cooperative. Starting out with P32,000 of collective capital, the group has been able to grow to a circulating capital of P10 million.

“Twenty years ago, there were so many barriers for PWDs to enter a school or get a job. So, creating a cooperative was really the way to empower us,” Arceno shared. When the cooperative started, the group was only composed of PWDs. However, as the group began to have families, and the cooperatives projects began affecting them, the cooperative decided to become more inclusive and expanded to include PWD families, and eventually communities.

“We buy the raw materials for the business from our community. We also employ from the community,” Arceno said about the cooperative’s community-based approach. According to Senator Bam, this approach is proven to be the most effective in the context of the Philippines which is very family centric.

Arceno imparted advice to the fellow PWDs hoping to uplift their lives through entrepreneurship. “Involvement of the family is critical—success will be hard without their support.” He also encourages other PWDs to join the cooperative if they wish. The group’s headquarters is located in SM Fairview and their contact details may be found in their Facebook page Bigay Buhay Multipurpose Cooperative.