By Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation
Virginia D. Lubguban, fondly known as Nang Edjing, lives in Banilad, Dumaguete, Negros Oriental. She and her husband Ally’s first venture into business was fishing: they invested their savings into two pump boats and began operations. But business didn’t take as well as they hoped and ultimately, it failed. All hope seemed lost.
This initial failure did not deter the entrepreneurial couple. Taking a look at their circumstances, they realized that they were rather primed to go into the furniture business. Nang Edjing’s mother has full-grown gmelina trees planted in a half hectare lot in a nearby farm, Ally has some experience in woodworking and knew of a good carpenter from a nearby town. They had the good business idea. But where were they going to get capital?
“We aspire to make furniture better, if not the best.”
One of Edjing’s friends introduced her to Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation’s (NWTF) Project Dungganon. Through the program Nang Edjing borrowed Php 4,000 (US$ 89) to buy some carpentry tools. With their business set up and their first employee ready to go, they received their first order: a pull-out bed. The customer was overwhelmingly satisfied with the job and made subsequent orders.
After paying off her first loan, Nang Edjing again took a loan from Project Dungganon, and, combined with her savings from furniture sales, bought additional carpentry tools and took on more skilled woodworkers. The couple decided that she would be the one to manage business operations while Ally devoted his time looking for raw materials, maintaining product quality and improving designs to attract customers. As new products were purchased by happy buyers, more potential customers poured in to place their orders. Their main marketing channel was word-of-mouth: they didn’t have to pay for advertisements because satisfied customers made the commercials for her.
After almost 10 years in the business, Edjing has countless institutional and individual customers like the Silliman Medical Center, doctors, government employees, and professionals. Their shop manufactures beds, headboards, dressers, filing cabinets, wardrobes, bench furniture, chairs, couches, footstools, recliners, coffee tables, desks, folding tables, dining tables, etc. After the just four years, their business was large enough to be registered with the Department of Trade and Industry.
Nang Edjing has three thriving businesses: a furniture shop, a bakery and a cattle-fattening venture.
Nang Edjing now has a display outlet at Highway Banilad, where most of her affordable, high-quality furniture is shown. She employs fifteen skilled woodworkers—carvers, carpenters, polishers, sanders, and chainsaw operators—who craft every piece of furniture. They receive government mandated benefits like SSS and Philhealth with free lodging house, water and electricity.
Because of this success, Nang Edjing was able to launch a bakery business eight years after starting the furniture shop. This particular business was quite opportunitistic because she did not have to spend money on bakery materials and equipment were purely incidental: customers who were not able to pay for the furniture they ordered instead paid her by way of bakery equipment. She started with one baker and a helper, making assorted breads and delivering the products in market outlets around Dumaguete City. They later diversified to producing cupcakes, cookies, otap, (an oval shaped puff pastry in the Philippines) sandwiches, sliced bread, etc. In the beginning, Nang Edjing’s bakery processed two sacks of flour per day. Now, she produces a variety of bread products from six to seven sacks of flour a day and delivers them to different stores in the towns surrounding Banilad. Nang Edjing plans to expand into the cake-making business and to open up a food stall at a local mall. She maintains 20 workers in her bakery business.
Aside from her furniture and bakery businesses, Nang Edjing even has a cattle fattening venture. She has four cattle feeders and feed gatherers who take care of the feeding and sanitation management.
“I believe that the best way to count our blessing is to give. I wake up at 4 o’clock every morning attending to every details of our business. We are always motivated by our achievements and because of this we aspire to make furniture better, if not the best; we strive to make our bread products better. And we have attained this stature in our business because of Project Dungganon. I am really very, very proud of being a member of Project Dungganon.”