While they remain as ‘full-time’ farmers during the day, tilling the field and tending to their livestock, a number of farmers in a rural Philippine town ‘transform’ into business process outsourcing (BPO) managers and workers when the sun sets!
A number of these admirable farmers/BPO managers can be found in Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte in Mindanao, Philippines; a place described as a “small, highly rural and agriculture-dependent municipality”.
Most of the people living in this town are farmers, many of which have debts from NGOs, government programs, and even loan sharks. A lot of them have pawned their farms or used these as debt collateral; thus, despite owning large farmlands, many of the farmers remain poor.
Instead of giving up, a number of young farmers have turned to the internet to look for ways to augment their income and save their farms.
Among these is Nilyn Baterna, a young man whose farming family had been deep in debt. Today, he owns a start-up company which employs 21 direct employees and 44 part-time workers. Aside from paying off all his family’s debts, Nilyn is proud to reveal that he already has extra money not just for emergency needs like medicines but also for his family to splurge in parties, like in birthday celebrations.
What’s even more admirable is that despite his company being a small-scale BPO, his workers’ salaries could range from a minimum of Php8,000 ($172) per month to as high as Php100,000 ($2,150) per project!
Baterna’s company is just one of the five ‘homegrown small-scale BPOs’ in Kapatagan, reveals town councilor Paul Lagura who was among the staunch promoters of online jobs in cooperation with the Department of Science and Technology-ICT Office.
After the DOST-ICT conducted a workshop on online work in 2015, a number of people (even the local government) have warmed up to the idea and are already embracing this lucrative source of income without abandoning their farmlands.
Among these workers is Kristine Ohagan, a mom who had to quit college when she got pregnant. To make ends meet, she first sold various food products but when she learned about online jobs, she took a laptop loan.
Ohagan revealed, “It was quite a suicide attempt when I borrowed money to buy a laptop. It cost me Php3,000 in down payment and a Php2,600 in monthly payment for one year.”
The venture was so successful that she was able to fully pay the laptop in just 6 months! She happily narrates how she could now enjoy the delicious foods her family couldn’t afford before.
DOST-ICTO deputy executive director Monchito Ibrahim said, “Basically if you have a laptop and if you have connectivity, puwede ka makakuha ng trabaho (you can get a job). That’s the idea.” And it sure works!