From stitches to riches, a success story

Merly Domingo, who runs a garments manufacturing business in Lapu-Lapu, Cebu was recently honored as the Regional Awardee for Visayas at the 17th Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards (CMA). Her compelling story of making smart choices and perseverance inspired many to do the same.

Before reaping the fruits of her business’ success, Merly recalled her humble beginnings, “We didn’t start in sewing. In fact, we were previously a training center who supplied sewers to the MEPZA. Our financial struggles began when the number of training centers around here rose. Then and there I decided to get myself into manufacturing because I saw the financial potential in it.” The problem was, she did not have enough capital for her big idea.

(L-R) TSKI Skills and Knowledge Institute Training Associate Erlinda Larong, Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards Regional Awardee for Visayas Merly Domingo and Microfinance Council of the Philippines Inc. Finance and Admin Manager Aileen Paglinawan

The street-smart seamstress used the backpay from her previous job as a capital to start her business of selling garments. Her brother Wilson also helped her buy a sewing machine and t-shirt printer so she can start her business. Slowly but surely, orders from clients started pouring in.

She decided to be a member of Taytay Sa Kauswagan Inc. (TSKI) a Microfinance NGO in 2016 and got the financial assistance and business know-how she needed to make her business take off.

“When we started with two workers back in 2016; now, we are proud to say we have 20 workers.”

Merly had gone a long way since she started her business with a monthly sales of P400,000 and a monthly net income of P200,000. The worth of her business is now P1,200,000. Her strategic decisions and diligence allowed her garment manufacturing business to flourish steadily. Today, Merly supplies athletic garments, P.E. uniforms and hoodies; she also creates her own designs and remains to be hands-on in talking to suppliers and customers.

“I do my best to incorporate what I’ve learned when I was starting and continually learn from the feedback my employees give to improve my business management,” she replied when asked what the key to her business success was.

Merly plans to expand and open another Ebina Garment Manufacturing in Bukidnon so she can provide employment opportunities to her relatives and also be able to share her blessings with the community she grew up in.  She said, “Never quit! Allow poverty to serve as your inspiration to achieve your goals in life. Allow God to work with you so that your business will be blessed and you will become a blessing to others.”

Like Merly, Eduardo Azores, the National Winner of the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards for 2019, credits his business’ success to microfinance. The winner from Koronadal City, South Cotabato has made a name for himself by selling different flavors of delicious and affordable pastil. His restaurant, aptly called “Ali-Ali Pastil” serves over 40 kinds of pastil, including laing and seafood has earned him loyal patrons and enough money to open a second branch.

Since its inception in 2002, the CMA has recognized 141 outstanding microentrepreneurs who overcame struggles and showed determination to bring their businesses to a higher level of success. The awards program is a signature initiative of the Citi Foundation; and highlights the efforts of partners BSP, Citi Philippines, and the Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc. to strengthen microfinance and enterprise development, and financial inclusion in the country.

Winners were chosen by the National Selection Committee co-chaired by BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno and Citi Philippines CEO Aftab Ahmed. The committee members are: Jose Ma. A. Concepcion III, president and CEO, RFM Corporation; Teresita T. Sy-Coson, vice chairperson, SM Investments Corporation; Ramon M. Lopez, secretary, Department of Trade and Industry; Imelda M. Nicolas, president, Samahan ng mga Pilipina para sa Reporma at Kaunlaran; Marixi Rufino-Prieto, former chairperson, The Philippine Daily Inquirer; Dr. Michael L. Tan, former Chancellor, University of the Philippines Diliman; and Fernando Zobel de Ayala, president, Ayala Corporation. 

Press Release

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