PLDT, Smart enable Meranaw entrepreneurs to thrive, persevere through siege, pandemic

Meranaw entrepreneur Aslia Ilian Dimaocom leads the Pindoguan Farm Producers Cooperative (PFPC) in Lanao del Sur. The small cooperative produces rice and Maranao delicacies like konsiri, pabrot, and tamongkos, to benefit farmers, out-of-school youth, widows, and orphans.

“After the Marawi siege and the pandemic, our cooperative’s income slowly went downhill. We were not able to sell our products due to the strict security protocols and lockdowns. Despite life’s challenges, we persevered,” Aslia said. “I am very thankful that I got to participate in PLDT and Smart’s training because it has brought us a lot of help. Because of PLDT and Smart, many businesses like our coop will continue to thrive in selling online,” she added.

As the chairwoman of PFPC, Aslia makes it a point to continue learning new skills in order to elevate their cooperative. Despite multiple challenges that nearly destroyed their livelihood, from the Marawi siege to the COVID-19 pandemic, she continues to focus on building more opportunities for their enterprise. One workshop Aslia made sure to attend was PLDT and Smart Communications, Inc.’s (Smart) eBizNovation program, to ensure that their business remains competitive.

In collaboration with the Provincial Government of Lanao del Sur, PLDT and Smart launched their first capacity-building program in Marawi City in 2022, to help cooperatives and MSMEs earn more by selling products online. This is where Aslia first learned the importance of online promotion and selling, which have since helped their coop improve their income. This year, she also joined the PLDT group’s latest training on content creation and e-commerce entrepreneurship, leveling up her skills in the online marketplace.

PLDT and Smart’s eBizNovation program aims to leverage digital technologies to develop and improve the lives and livelihoods of communities across the country. These efforts are part of the group’s commitment to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 1: No Poverty, SDG 5: Gender Equality, and SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.