By Foo Fang Ling
Today marks my 16th day in the Philippines. Definitely crunch time as I only have 10 more days left in this very hot yet very beautiful country. I can literally hear the clock going “tik tok tik tok”! Well, I guess what they say is true “time flies when you are having fun”.
So far I have been documenting my experiences by writing long essays on my two previous blog posts. For this week, let’s spice things up a little. Instead of the usual lengthy essays, this blog post will be in the form of Q & A’s. It will focus entirely on the business I am consulting for and the information I have gathered so far. I came up with some questions and answered them accordingly. I hope that this blog post will be beneficial to the future consultants who will be coming back to Guimaras in the coming year for a follow up on the business Clarence, Peng Ye and I have been working on. Right then, let’s begin!
What type of business is your team consulting for?
We are consulting for an organic farm in Guimaras. The farm sells its livestock, fruits and vegetables in its restaurant and various supermarkets in Iloilo. The farm itself is open to locals and tourists for tours conducted by its owner.
What are the challenges plaguing the business?
The owner does not have sufficient capital to finance new investments and to employ more employees to work on the farm. The present generation has also started to show a disinterest in farming, with most youngsters preferring to go to cities like Iloilo and Manila to search for white-collar jobs. This further contributes to the present difficulty in recruiting staff. Besides that, there is not enough water to sustain the whole farm in addition to the daily needs of its owner and employees. The dry season further aggravates this problem. Lastly, there is no proper succession plan in place.
What solutions has your team proposed to tackle the problems stated above?
We have designed a student internship letter in response to the lack of finances and manpower. As for the water shortage, the owner has already enlisted the help of a well digger to dig a very deep well so that water will no longer be an issue. The construction of a new well will take place next year. We are also in the midst of making a promotional video which will hopefully be uploaded on the farm’s Facebook page. Making this video made me realize that a lot of time and effort goes into making videos, even a simple three to five minute video. I have a newfound respect for video makers/video editors. Not to mention moviemakers! A PowerPoint presentation is also in the works to act as a visual aid during the owner’s talk.
Your team is currently moving into the third week of your consulting work. How would you rate your team’s progress in the two weeks that have just passed?
Progress in week two is definitely better than in week one. However, we are encountering the same difficulties in both weeks, i.e. scheduling meetings with the owner of the organic farm. The owner is a very busy lady and it is very hard to schedule regular meetings with her on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays as outlined in the course schedule. As such, we end up having meetings on other days. As I am writing this blog post, we initially had a meeting scheduled for today morning. However, she informed us that she will be going to Iloilo and rescheduled our meeting to tomorrow afternoon. But fret not, we will not give up and we will keep pushing forward. Although we have hit a roadblock in terms of getting the financials on time, we have shifted our focus towards marketing. At times like this, we can always learn a thing or two from Finding Nemo that is “just keep swimming”.
Your team is only here in the Philippines for less than a month. How do you expect to bring about change within this short period of time?
Yes, we understand that time is definitely a constraint here. As such, we make sure that we do not make any plans that are over ambitious and that we cannot achieve during our stay here. We also make it a point to discuss our plans with the owner to make sure that she agrees with our proposals. For example, we initially wanted to set up a website to promote the organic farm. However, the owner shared with us her difficulty in maintaining the website. So, that is why we have settled on a video and PowerPoint presentation instead of a website as we aim to create things that she can use immediately and will be beneficial to her business now.
Alright, this is all for now. Below is one of the shops that belongs to our organic farm owner. Stay tuned for my next blog post and see you guys next Saturday!