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The Wave of Women-Led Enterprises after Typhoon Rai: Madel’s Story

It’s a busy day as tourists swarm the line of stalls at the popular Maasin River in Barangay Maasin, Pilar, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte. Madel Elimanco, 39, stands at the front of her shop and invites tourists to check the various goods she sells. She has souvenir items such as shirts, bags, shell ornaments, accessories made of coconuts, and delicacies that are sought after by people who flock to the island.

She still gets overwhelmed whenever she earns more than she expects on a day of selling. She remembered how difficult it was for her and her husband to get back on their feet when Typhoon Rai (Odette) struck in 2021. Their stall where they used to sell hot cakes, processed foods, and coconut shell souvenirs was swept away by the strong winds. After the onslaught, her husband who was a tour guide and surfing instructor struggled to find income when all tourists had gone, and the island was left in ruins.

As much as Madel wanted to recover their assets and start selling again, they had no capital to use. She wanted to find a job so that they could survive the daily challenge of putting food on the table and taking care of their children’s needs.

“It was hard for me to find another job because I’m used to running a small business. I wasn’t confident to do something that I don’t have the right skills for”, she said. 

CARE Philippines through Project WAVES (Women Adding Value to the Economy in Siargao) identified Madel as one of the women entrepreneurs to be engaged as a project participant who will lead their livelihood recovery. She participated in a series of livelihood and financial literacy training and was supported to recover her assets and improve and diversify her products through financial assistance.

“Before, I only sell a few items. Now, I have more products displayed and sold in my souvenir shop”, she shared.

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