In the middle of 2014, 55 year old, Juliet Somera, a mother of four from Barangay Raw-an in the Municipality of Lala relied on her basic arithmetic skills and small capital to open a Sari-Sari Store within their community where her customers are mostly her neighbours. “Somera Sari-Sari Store” was created to help her husband, a Security Personnel in the Provincial Government, in providing the daily needs of the family.

Just like any other small time businesses, competition and mismanagement have led Mrs. Somera’s Sari-Sari Store in an unstable situation which she was forced to close down the store eventually.

This problem has been seen and indentified by 2nd District Representative, Congressman Abdullah ‘Bobby’ Dimakuta Dimaporo. With this, Congressman Bobby worked closely with TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) through its program in partnership with Coca Cola Company. The Coke-TESDA Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources or TESDA Coke-Star Program aims to cultivate business discipline that will enable Sari-Sari Store owners to tap resources to grow their business. In addition, the program will enhance the business knowledge and skills of women sari-sari store owners and operators.  The program will also give the sari-sari store women the opportunity to experience formal skills training, something that most of these recipients did not finish or reach high school education.

In this program, recipients undergo (1) business and life skills training; (2) access to finance and financial services; and (3) access to merchandising support and business assets in order to overcome the obstacles and be a successful entrepreneur.

Mrs. Somera is among the 101 Sari-Sari Store owners who were given the opportunity to be part of this program through the initiative of 2nd District Congressman Abdullah ‘Bobby’ Dimakuta Dimaporo in reviving her business through TESDA and Coca Cola Company in partnership with First Community Cooperative Inc.

Today, Mrs. Somera is managing her own Pisonet (Pisong Internet) beside her home and operating it with the same principle as a Sari-Sari Store. Pisonet is an arcade style computer unit used as an internet or gaming vending machine.

With the recipients’ success in their own businesses, they have created their own group named “Lanao del Norte Sari2x Store Women Association” in which Juliet Somera currently sits as the President. The association aims to empower women especially the housewives by encouraging them to be entrepreneurs.

Furthermore, when Congressman Bobby sees the determination of the recipients immediately communicated with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and initiated a Kabuhayan Program that granted Lanao del Norte Sari2x Store Women Association a grocery loan worth 220,000 pesos that was released last October 12, 2017 as an additional capital.

The knowledge of the training is invaluable and treasured by the participants which they have learned that having a huge capital does not constitute to a successful business but having the knowledge in managing the business is more important to make it grow. PIO-LDN