Madrepreneur Project: A Way of Sustaining Involvement and Empowering BLT Parents
With Mercedes Central School (MCS) of Zamboanga City now on its second year in BLT, it faces the same problem which is perennial to almost all feeding programs, be it local or national – declining parents’ participation.
From the local term “madre” which means mother, the MCS BLT implementers together with its local implementing partner, the Ateneo de Zamboanga University, organized the mothers thru the Madrepreneur Project to engage in a small scale food-based enterprise which is built on their current skills and capacities. It aims to address two things – sustaining parents’ participation in the program and capacitating women to help in the economic condition of their families.
The continuous support and active involvement of the parents has been critical in the overall success of the program. But as the implementation progresses towards the end of school year, it has been noticed that fewer mothers are performing their daily roles and responsibilities in the program. To address this concern, the MCS BLT implementers organized the Madrepreneur to motivate them to come and help in the daily feeding tasks.
After the hustle and bustle of preparing for the lunch of the BLT kids, the parents would again gather to start with the production of the gulucinas or native delicacies for snacks. With the small start-up capital contributed by each member, the parents would prepare local delicacies such as saging rebusao, madoya, ginataan mais, bayo-bayo and the like. These products are being sold at the school canteen where pupils and teachers alike are their primary customers. Apart from the canteen, the Madrepreneur group also produces gulucinas for school-based occasions like meetings, gatherings and the like, and would also take orders from teachers for their personal occasions. Daily income is accounted at the end of the day but they would divide their profit at the end of the week base on attendance per production.
The profit from the gulucinas, allows women to augment family income thus improves their involvement and motivates parents to come daily in BLT. They have also been generously allotting small percentages for the BLT fund for every production they have. One mother said, “Maliit lang yung percentage na naibibigay naming sa pondo pero galling naman sa puso ‘yon”. The fact that they are able to financially contribute to the program and also at home, enhances sense of ownership of the program and sense of fulfillment for the mothers. Furthermore, the Madrepreneur project provides venue for mothers to bond and form relationships with one another. They share laughter, they exchange skills and technologies, and they encourage each other to be more participative and supportive of the program.
Since they are engaged in a food-based entrepreneur, safety and qualitymust be ensured. Henceparents underwent a training on food safety which is made possible by the Health and Nutrition department of DepEd and was further supplemented by the training on food service and safety, and the awarding of a Health Certificate for each member of the group by the City Health Office. To ensure transparency and equality, parents hold a meeting weekly to discuss finances and were given a training on basic book keeping by the MCS BLT implementers.