Thursday, August 28, 2014

CCT's Analyn Estrella is 2014 Lydia Awardee

2014 Lydia Awardee Analyn Estrella has come a long
way from a little girl growing up in Masbate whose
father believed it was enough that she learned to
read and write. 

Analyn Estrella, pizza maker and bakery owner from Quezon City, has been named winner of the 2014 Lydia Award.  The Lydia Award,  sponsored by PEER Servants, a Christian organization based in Boston, Massachusetts, recognizes microentrepreneurs who, like Lydia in Acts 16 in the Bible, use their growing businesses to bless their respective communities.

Childhood. Analyn grew up in one of the poorest provinces of the Philippines, Masbate. Her father was a farmer who wanted to send his daughter to just the first few years of school because he believed it was enough that she learned how to read and write. Analyn however wanted to learn much more than that. She would walk three kilometres from their home in Uson, Masbate to school every school day. She finished grade school, high school in the province, and three years of college in Manila by sheer hard work and determination.

Analyn stands in front of the oven she uses today,
 holding the oven she used when started her business.

Early Business Success. Analyn was a young wife and mother when she began making pizza in 1998, beginning with a capital of P400.00. She learned how to make the dough from an older brother who worked at Fiesta Pizza. 

When she was just beginning her pizza business, she sold it in roadside booths in bustling Quezon City. The business took off so quickly so that before it reached the sixth month she was selling 1000 boxes of pizza a day. Because she had also opened a bakery, eight men and six women, kababayan from Masbate, were hired to work as bakers, helpers, delivery boys, and salesladies. Her husband quit his job working with a construction company to help her as driver for deliveries.

Earnings allowed Analyn to purchase a secondhand Ford Fiera for P60,000 that made deliveries easier, and in 2000 she bought a six-bedroom house for P1.5M. Then in 2004, adversity struck.

Hard Times. Analyn was riding a crest of success when her mother suffered a stroke and became comatose for a month. Her mother came out of the coma but was bedridden for the rest of her life, and passed away only in March 2014. Analyn had to sell the Ford Fiera and house to cover medical expenses, her children had to move from private school to public school, and her workers had to find jobs elsewhere. She went back to baking the bread herself using just three kilos of floor a day. As a last resort she was about to also sell her bakery equipment, then a neighbour introduced her to CCT and she received her first loan of P4,000.00.

CCT Aid. The series of CCT loans she received over the next several years helped Analyn rebuild her businesses. By 2007 she was back to using 50 sacks of flour a day. But even better, she came to have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. She says, “A verse discussed in one of the first meetings I attended was Matthew 11:28, ‘Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.’ I realized I’d forgotten all about God before this. I’d been through a lot of problems. The promise in the verse was exactly what I needed and I claimed it for myself.”

The Businesses at Present. Today, Analyn makes pizza Mondays to Fridays during the school months, selling an average of 450 pizzas every school day. The 10-inch pizzas are sold at P30.00 per box to canteen concessionaires in 20 Quezon City public schools where it is sold at P5.00 a piece. 

Analyn has carefully invested her loan money in bakery equipment and furnishings (a large freezer, oven, shelving, heavy duty mixer, slicer, dough roller, working table, office tables), and in a van.

Growth. From 2007 to 2011 Analyn was part of a loan group when the size of her loans was P50,000 and below. When she started receiving Growth Enterprise Loans (loans of more than P50,000) she began attending life mentoring sessions as a mentee of Christian business man Carson Tan.

Aside from joining CCT’s mentoring program, Analyn makes the most of free training offered by other organizations as well. She learned the proper way to bake bread at a four-day seminar offered by the Quezon City government. She also attended seminars on how to make siopao and siomai and sold these items at one time. Along with about a hundred other micro entrepreneurs from all over the Philippines she attended the PinoyMe Convention in March 2013 upon recommendation of CCT. “I was very eager at that time to have my breads and pizza sold in supermarkets. One of the things I learned at the convention was that this requires a lot of documents and that it takes quite a long time to process and acquire these documents. If I attempted to have my products sold in supermarket and learned these things in the process, I might have been discouraged. I also learned that the proper way to respond to competition is through 
innovation,” she says

Life Changes. Running the businesses and being able to give her children something she didn’t receive from

her parents has given Analyn a profound sense of fulfilment. She shares that when she was just starting her businesses, her family lived in such cramped quarters that her children had to sleep under the table where she mixed the dough. 

Today they live in much better conditions and have enough to receive good education. Eldest daughter Ronalyn, 25, has a degree in computer engineering. Second daughter Carina, 23, will finish her business administration studies this school year. Son Rolando, 21 studied information technology, and the youngest
son who is still in grade school will be able to go to an excellent college or university when the time comes. Analyn's entire family attends one of CCT's community churches in Quezon City.  Someday soon she hopes to open a chain of bakeries in Masbate, to be able to provide jobs for her kababayan.  

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