By: Gordon Ho
It finally comes to the day to meet the business. I still remember how shocked I was when I first knew about the diversity of our business clients. It varies from variety store to pig farm, which share nearly no similarity.
Our business is a bakery shop in the northern Nueva Valencia region. The owner Jasmine started the business five years ago. Same as most other local entrepreneurs, she initiated the business to better support her children, which she also defined as the mission of the business in the first interview. Jasmine is a really enthusiastic person, and is always energetic sharing her stories, especially those of her children. She has two kids. Her son is now studying marine engineering in college, and her daughter just graduated from high school. Humorous as she is, she warned me in the very first beginning that her daughter is quite good at sports, especially martial arts, so that I’d better not think of dating her. On that day, we also visited the bakery, and were introduced to the helper, the baker and some of the customers. The baker comes from Manila, so he cannot speak the dialect here. Jasmine usually communicates with him in Tagalog. “Sorry that I don’t speak English, so I cannot chat with you. But if you can speak Tagalog, I can talk about a lot of things with you”, Jasmine translated his words to me. After knowing all the people of the bakery, I started to observe the outlook of it and also Jasmine’s interaction with customers. To be honest, as a foreigner like me, I cannot really recognize it at the first sight, because there is no obvious sign. One interesting thing of the bakery is the water dispenser. It just looks exactly as usual ones from outlook. This installment made me curious and wonder why Jasmine would offer free water. “No! You have to insert coin to get water. AND, no matter you insert one dollar, five dollar or ten dollar, it all gives you same amount of water.”, Jasmine told me. Other things attracting my attention are the well-designed English posters on the walls. “These are all from my friends. This is from my European friend, and it would be great if you can meet him. He will be back on Friday! And this one is from my Australian friend…”I was surprised by her connection. She then told me that she helps her friends to promote their products in her bakery, and they will offer transportation in return. “This is the Fillipino Spirit, right? Always help each other without asking any material rewards”, I asked. Jasmine laughed and agreed.
In the following few meeting with her, we covered the five most important questions, which were at first too brainstorming for her. She looked nervous and hesitated to give the answers. However, after a few days and other deeper interaction with her, like visiting her family house or joining her friend’s birthday party, she became more and more willing to answer. Now we are looking forward to the progress in the coming two weeks. I really hope that we can provide her with some practical support and her business can improve.