The story of a sari-sari shop

Bea DEF docPHILIPPINES

My name is Bea* and I could not remain in the Netherlands. My application for residence there was denied. But there was more to it than that… I experienced the Dutch culture as very different from my own and I simply missed my family. After speaking with IOM, I learned that they can help me with organizing something for my life in the Philippines after return. It was an important moment for me to start thinking of a plan for the future, to focus on what I wanted to do. I decided to return home. Through IOM, I received financial support, which I used to set up a business.

I decided to set up a sari-sari, which is a kind of mom & pop shop selling basic commodities like cooking oil, salt & sugar, flour, canned goods, and candies. These small independent family-owned mini-shops are very popular here in the Philippines. It is a convenient way for the locals to shop for the basic stuff. You can find one at almost every corner, but it so happens that there weren’t too many of them in my neighbourhood. It was great that I did not have to deal with much competition, so I really felt it would be a good business opportunity. So a few months ago I opened the store in my parents' house. I spent a part of my reintegration grant from IOM to buy my first stock of merchandise. Now the business is going quite well. I look at what people buy on a regular basis and this gives me a pretty good idea of what I need to keep in stock.

However, although the shop is doing well, the money I make from it is not enough to support my family, so I am actually looking for a part time job to supplement our income. But I must say that my little shop has helped me deal with a lot of my anxieties over the future, because it does provide us with a steady income. It is a relief to know we have a safety net of sorts, for the livelihood of my parents, my younger brother and myself.

*The migrant’s name has been changed for privacy purposes.