Enrolment 2017

People of ASKI Global #59: “I am not a rich helper, but I have a wealth of knowledge”

Lorna Rocha Laasa, ASKI Global volunteer. She first studied Basic Entrepreneurship in 2015, before moving on to Financial Education the following year.

Midway through the conversation, one cannot help but be thoroughly impressed with Lorna Laasa’s tenacity for knowledge: she has not stopped looking for courses to attend despite having to halt her degree education and come to Singapore as a household service worker. “I went for a computer enrichment course as well as cosmetology classes,” she shared. It was through word of mouth as well as Facebook that Lorna learned more about ASKI Global.

After much deliberation, Lorna enrolled in the Basic Entrepreneurship course first, explaining that she has acquired plenty of skills but did not have any avenues to try them out. “(BE) will give me the chance to tap into what I know and hopefully, turn it into a viable business.” According to Lorna, the course was also a way to prove to herself that she has what it takes to be a businesswoman and focus on her business idea. During the course’s duration, she went into her first agribusiness venture in her hometown, Quezon province.

FAMILY INVOLVEMENT AND RESPONSIBILITY

Initially, the business only had 3 goats, a pig, and a handful of chicks. Today, the number of livestock has increased exponentially. “I started the business with the intention of teaching my family that they cannot depend on my salary,” she explained, adding that prior to setting up the business, Lorna often had to request her employer to advance her salary. Eventually, she decided that it had to stop.

“I cannot continue to think and be like this.”

Capital for the business was taken from Lorna’s savings account, which she had opened with the Post Office Savings Bank (POSB). “My mind-set changed since going through the entrepreneurship course – I decided that my salary must be placed in a good investment.” When asked about what she did in order to diligently save, Lorna acknowledged that it was a very difficult thing to start. “Not many people can save a huge sum of money in a short period of time,” she professed. But through patience and understanding from her family members, she has amassed enough funds to establish her own enterprise.

ONE BUSINESS DOWN, ONE MORE TO GO

Even though Lorna is far away from her agribusiness, she is still the one calling the shots. She is also constantly on OLX.ph, checking the sales of her business. “Profit that is earned is utilised for business expenditure and repayment of the initial investment. Whatever that remains is channelled into my daughter’s savings account,” she stated. Despite of all her efforts, the earnings from the agribusiness was not enough to support her family.

“I am now looking at expanding my business to include organic farming,” she shared. Having learned and studied this subject on YouTube, Lorna discussed the idea with her father. “Organic farming is an innovation that has yet to be introduced in my province,” she claimed. “I am confident that it will be successful and help generate wealth for my family. Plus, it is inexpensive to set one up.”

For her organic farming venture, she intends to grow fruits and vegetables. “It is much easier selling harvested fruits as compared to livestock,” she declared.

PAYING IT FORWARD

Feeling grateful to the organisation for invigorating her entrepreneurial spirit, Lorna decided to give back by signing up as a volunteer. The first assignment she took on was setting up the ASKI Global Investment Club. “I was approached by (former volunteer) Rowena Quezon to start the group,” she said. The idea behind the club is to impart knowledge and learn investment terms, which have been acquired from seminars attended. Roundtable discussions and weekly meetings are carried out as forms of “inclusive learning,” according to Lorna.

Through the discussions attended, the club officers decided that they ought to apply what they have learned in a “simple format,” which gave birth to the Investment Club Canteen. Every Sunday, club officers rotate roles in manning the canteen, which is placed outside the main office. Lorna’s role is to keep track of the finances. “I am being very meticulous in jotting down expenses and working out the calculations for the canteen, which is funny as I can easily spend money that is not mine!” she quipped.

Getting involved with the club canteen and the organisation has been such an experience for Lorna. “Being on campus every Sunday is incomparable and priceless. I want to help and serve the people of ASKI Global and doing this has brought a lot of meaning,” she avowed.

PLANS FOR THE FUTURE

Even though she has learned all that she wanted and she needed, Lorna is never contended. “I want to do more – I want to do better,” she firmly declared. She has already planned to return home permanently next year to fully manage her businesses as well as resume her college education. “The end goal is to attain my Bachelor in Science and Secondary Education.”

To Lorna, education is a never-ending process. “It can only stop when you are incapable,” she asserted.

“We should always deepen our understanding in learning.”

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