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Hapinoy, empowering women one small shop at a time

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Hapinoy LogoSmall shops – or sari-sari – are everywhere in the Philippines. In the cities of course, but most of all in the remote areas of the countryside. Basically, no matter how far you go and even in the middle of isolated mountain rice terraces, you will probably soon stumble on a Coca-Cola logo hidden behind a tree somewhere, and discover one small, dense and messy shop that answers a lot of everyday basic needs.

One estimates that more than 800 000 sari-sari are dispersed across the country, composing a network that keeps the villages alive and interconnected. And because those shops are always part of the family’s house and enable women to work while taking care of the children, they are almost always owned and run by those mothers – the nanay.

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The mission of Hapinoy? To improve the skills and the businesses of those women so that they can make it more sustainable and profitable for their families. Hapinoy also helps them introduce high impact goods to their shops, like solar lamps or medicine, so that it also participates to the development of the whole community.

How does it work? Hapinoy targets high potential women entrepreneurs in the villages and helps them become better entrepreneurs by training them for ten months in marketing, accountancy, inventory, distribution, etc. These trainings are adapted to their busy schedule and co-created with them in order to improve their business skills while understanding their specific needs.

By the first six or seven months, Hapinoy also helps women buy more capital by borrowing money from the local partnered MFIs (microfinance institutions). They guide them to see this loan as a real investment, not only a way to buy more goods. For example, they advise them to buy a cellphone that will enable them to develop load business, or to buy a tricycle so that they can introduce a delivery service into their business.

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The goal of the program is of course to help these women make their businesses grow and earn more money, but it is also about giving back. After the ten-months training, the women share their knowledge and new skills to empower other women of their community. And this is the moment when the program really becomes “alive”, autonomous and thus sustainable.

Another great innovation of Hapinoy lays in the participation of the husbands to the program. Hapinoy is primarily a program for sari sari entrepreneurs, who happen to be mostly women. But women’s empowerment has to be understood and followed by the husbands in order to be sustainable, and that is a main issue for any kind of social program targeting women. In order to avoid the husbands feeling left behind, Hapinoy includes them in the program, in discussions and workshops so that they can understand how their wives’ empowerment is indeed empowerment for the whole family.

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The program is free of charge for these women but Hapinoy developed a sustainable business model through the network of suppliers, manufacturers and distributers they work with to bring high impact goods to the communities. Hapinoy centralizes the orders, helps organizing the whole supply chain and thus helps those partners opening new, profitable markets in exchange for a commission on the sellings. In addition to that, they are also selling them market studies and researches at a very local level, using all the valuable data gathered from their interactions with the community.

Since its creation in 2007, Hapinoy has helped more than 1 200 women each year. After those first five years, they are now break even and will be making profits in the next few years, which will enable them to open new trainings. They are on their way to create a sustainable model that will enable them to replicate easily, in order to expand faster and easier? That’s all we can wish to this amazing project!

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