The year 2009 was challenging for Renie and Carina Gonato. Renie retired after 30 years of employment with a beverage company, which meant he would no longer receive a monthly paycheck. For a steady source of income, the couple knew they had to put more work into Carina’s small business selling a local Filipino favorite — chicken lumpia (chicken rolls) — in their neighborhood on consignment. After being prodded by her neighbors and recognizing that she could earn more income, she decided to make and sell her own chicken lumpia. After three months of taste tests and gathering her neighbors’ feedback, she perfected her recipe. Initially, she only sold her lumpia in the Mactan Export Processing Zone compound. Through word of mouth, her lumpia gained popularity and soon, orders started growing steadily.
Initially, Carina only needed 5 kilograms of chicken meat each day. But as orders increased, she needed additional capital to increase production and meet the demand. When she learned about First Agro Industrial Rural (FAIR) Bank’s microloan product, Pamilya, she immediately sent the required documents and applied for a loan. The bank granted the initial loan of 50,000 PHP ($1,190) for working capital. Subsequent loans from FAIR Bank helped her buy new equipment, increase production, and diversify into hog-raising.
Her enterprise’s annual profit level reached 2 million PHP ($47,619), of which 90 percent is reinvested in the business. The business now uses more than 1,000 kilograms of chicken a day to meet rising demand. She now exports her lumpia to Malaysia and Qatar. The business also employs 50 workers, many whom come from the poorest provinces of the region. The Department of Science and Technology is continually assisting Carina in business development, providing inputs so that the entire production process meets quality standards.
Carina knew she had a good product and did not need a handout or grant, but needed access to sustainable and ongoing finance and a safe place to save. She says of her years of partnership with FAIR Bank, “We would not have achieved this kind of success without FAIR Bank. They acted as a financial bridge to help us grow our business.” FAIR Bank has received technical assistance and training under the MABS Program since 2005.
Based on her hard work and success, Carina received the Citi Microentrepreneur of the Year Award in 2011.
 You may view an interview of Carina Gonata in the attached DVD or online at: http://youtu.be/hereUeRFaoM.