8 multi-sectoral entrepreneurs join 2023 KMME-MME Online course

A mix of local entrepreneurs from different business sectors in the province are enrolled in this year’s first batch of the Kapatid Mentor Micro-Entrepreneurship (KMME)-Money Market Encounter (MME) Online business mentoring course that began last week.

A program of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Philippine Council for Entrepreneurship (PCE) Go Negosyo and the National Small and Medium Enterprise Development (SMED) Council, the KMME-MME Online program’s first batch of 48 mentees from the Bicol region includes eight (8) from Catanduanes.

They are Mary Charisse T. Lizaso, 23, of Batalay, Bato; Normilyn Z. Marino, 52, of San Pablo, Virac; Mary Concepcion M. Romero, 34, of San Isidro Village, Virac; Juan Paolo G. Sales, 40, of Rawis, Virac; Adelyn T. Sarmiento, 35, of District 2, Gigmoto; Cherrie O. Timajo, 33, of Ogbong, Viga; and Ronna Joy F. Yusores, 25, of Datag West, Caramoran.

A full-time single mother to a three-year-old boy, Lizaso holds a diploma in Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, major in Animal Science. In 2019, she set up Mary and Lewis Artes y Manualidades Handy Crafts, which has been producing handmade jewelry, accessories and different arts and crafts using epoxy resin, polymer clay, real flowers and other materials.

A retired bank manager, Marino has been overseeing the operation of Mister Donut Virac with branches at three mini-malls since 2018 and, together with her husband, distributes petroleum products through Golden Gass Fuel Station in Tamburan, Bato.

A former audit manager for a big commercial bank, Romero runs Armac Bakery, which was established by her parents about decades ago in front of the family compound but had to close it in 2007.

Now married with two young daughters, she and her husband decided to reopen the business in 2019 just before the pandemic began.

“We focus not only on providing hot and freshly baked bread but also burger buns and other bread needs for restaurants, caterers, and burger stalls in the province,” she said.

The bakery accepts orders for buns with customized sizes or colors for business or events and special occasion breads and pastries in the island, including a Lechon Bread for Christmas and New Year.

Sales succeeded his late mother, Coleta Gianan-Sales, in continuing her catering business, CGS Canteen & Catering Services which is based at home in Rawis and has a canteen at the Catanduanes State University. A graduate of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, major in Computer Management and Accounting, from Ateneo de Naga University, the still single former Virac councilor is also an alumnus of a culinary school in Naga City.

Married with one child, Sarmiento juggles her time as a registered nurse working at Gigmoto District Hospital and manager of Gigmoto Minimart which she established in 2018 and is engaged in wholesale, retail and distribution of consumer goods.

A graduate of BS Information Management, Timajo is the owner of On D’ Wings at Francia, Virac and VTC Metrotent. The food outlets offer delicious, unlimited chicken wings, rice, fries, paste and iced tea as well as budget meals and barkada feasts for families and large groups.

On the other hand, Yusores operates Click Meals and Snack House.

During the on-line launching, newly-designated DTI Bicol OIC-Regional Director Dindo G. Nabol, congratulated the 48 mentees for their “bravery” in joining the 10-module training program that he said would improve their businesses and enhance its operations.

A former panelist during the presentation of Business Improvement Plans (BIP) since the program began in 2016, he tempered his remarks by assuring that skilled and talented mentors from PCE Go Negosyou would ensure that the mentees would graduate from the course.

DTI Undersecretary for Regional Operations Group Blesila Lantayona congratulated DTI provincial and regional offices, and the PCE for the new chapter in KMME history.

Recalling the height of the pandemic when many businesses closed shop as only essential activities were allowed, she said that many had difficulty restarting and reviving their operations.

KMME-MME has proven to be effective in raising entrepreneurship level in the nation, she stressed, with the pivot from face-to-face to online sessions in March 2020 already perfected since then, with only unreliable internet connection as the hindrance.

A total of 4,895 entrepreneurs have graduated from the private-public partnership flagship program since then, with 108 mentors added to the pool, Usec. Lantayona added.

She remarked that the online course gives mentees the feeling of having graduated from an MBA program that requires as its only investment attendance to the sessions, doing the assignments, and, most importantly, using what they learned in improving their businesses.

“The DTI is committed to continue supporting you after you graduate via our other programs: Shared Service Facilities (SSF), OTOP Next Generation, SME Roving Academy, access to financing programs especially the Small Business Corporation, attendance in regional trade fairs, and others,” Lantayona stated. “Our Negosyo Centers will be your one-stop shop in accessing these programs.”


Former Usec. Merly Cruz, who is now with PCE, told the mentees that KMME-MME will not only contribute to their character and business but also allow them to gain more leverage.

She cited the program’s main objectives: providing a platform for existing and aspiring entrepreneurs to learn from and be inspired by the entrepreneurial journey of the mentors; serving as the channel for capacity building on an online platform using the KMME modules and canned lectures via webinar; and inspire micro, small and medium enterprises to adapt smart business strategies, by rebuilding or repurposing, in responding to the challenges of the “new normal” business environment.

For 2023, the program targets at least 2,000 graduate-mentees, with 200 of them able to access credit from banks and other financing providers and 10% of mentees enabled to adopt innovative strategies in the “new normal”.

Mentors will handle the following modules: entrepreneurial mindsetting, marketing mind-set, business model canvas, operations management, digitalization, supply and value chain, good governance & ethics, market expansion and internationalization, product development, HR/organization management, and enterprise accounting/financial management.

Coaches will supervise the drafting and finalization of the BIP drafting, finalization and presentation, as well as the culmination and product exposition.

Cruz disclosed that while there are already more than 800 mentors nationwide, not all mentors in the regions are complete with skills or expertise so cross deployment of needed mentors is done from other regions.

The success of the KMME-MME Online led to the establishment of the ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network in 2018 as a legacy project of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council in the Philippines.

Funded by Japan ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF), the same program is going on in the nine other countries in the region but limited to just 30 per batch.

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