University Business Clinic

I was invited by SPARK Philippines to share my story as a social entrepreneur to the students who attended the University Business Clinic held at Systems Technology Institute (STI) Cotabato City yesterday. Although I’m used to speaking in front of a huge crowd and sharing my story, I was nervous. It was my first time to talk about business.

When you’re a freelance photographer and a licensed librarian, it’s difficult to explain why you’re a social entrepreneur. People expect you to be buried under a pile of books while working on card catalogs and shushing students at the slightest hint of noise when you tell them that you graduated with a degree in Library and Information Science. When you tell them that you’re a photographer, they expect you to wear an SLR around your neck and shoot like there’s no tomorrow. Life has its way of surprising us and truth be told, I’m still surprised that I’m being called a social entrepreneur. Me? Really? What do I know about business?

I was nervous on the way to STI. I threw a couple of jokes to make my mom and myself laugh but deep down, I was worried. What if they don’t like my presentation? What if they ask a lot of questions? Yes I did my research and I prepared for the event but since I was asked to share about a topic that wasn’t in my field of expertise, I had butterflies in my stomach. There were almost 200 students when I entered the room, all waiting for the event to start. I found comfort in the presence of the familiar faces that greeted me with a smile when I arrived. I rushed over to Darren and Fatima who were both preparing for their presentations.

The event started with Darren showing everyone the Young Women Entrepreneurs Bootcamp 2013 (YWEB) video. Fatima and I were both nostalgic when we saw pictures and clips of the event that happened three months ago. Darren then introduced Fatima as the first speaker. I had a great time listening to her story. I’ve known her since the beginning of the Kids for Peace Foundation, Inc. in 2000 but it was my first time to hear her story about her business (Elijah’s Marketing).

It was my turn to speak after Fatima, and when I stood in front of the students, I asked them to take turns in guessing what my course was back in college. Some said nursing, some said engineering while others said communication. I laughed at the expressions on their faces when I told them that I’m a licensed librarian. “But you don’t look like one!”, they said. That reaction, I’m used to. When I saw that they were ready to listen, I felt comfortable. I proceeded with my presentation.

Photo by Darren Gonzales
Photo by Darren Gonzales

I told them about Eco Choices and how I assumed my position as the manager. I shared with them my journey as a social entrepreneur and how it’s been a crazy ride for the past few months. I heaved a sigh of relief when the presentation was finished. They had questions after, mostly about how they can volunteer and be a part of Eco Choices.

Darren and Fatima dropped by Eco Choices! :) Photo by James Ryan Buenacosa
Darren and Fatima dropped by Eco Choices! 🙂 Photo by James Ryan Buenacosa

Talking about Eco Choices fueled my passion to make the store successful. It has been a bumpy ride and we’ve had several attempts to close the store because we wanted to give up. The presentation yesterday reminded me of my goals for Eco Choices. SPARK Philippines and STI Cotabato City, thank you so much for having me! I had a nice time sharing my story with you. 🙂