In 2008, Armisol Gaerlan lost her job in Pampanga forcing her to go back to Infanta, Pangasinan.
There, she started distributing bagoong as she had to explore possibilities to earn a living.
"Tinray po namin iyon dahil wala naman po kami ibang pagkakakitaan noong time na iyon," she said.
Gaerlan said she bought bagoong at P200 per box and sold it to small stores at P240 per box. She used her profits to grow her business.
Soon, her customers also asked her to sell soap or shampoo.
Afterwards, her cousin gave her a tip on how to cater to those asking for personal care products.
"Sabi niya, 'i-try mong kumuha [sa Unilever], doon kumakain sa karinderya namin iyong ahente'," Gaerlan recounted.
She said she started placing her orders with a dozen or two of several products before increasing her orders while attending the mentorship program of the said company called Kabisig Summit.
As months went on, learning more about how to grow her business and gaining more insights on entrepreneurship, she was finally offered a chance to be part of the Super!Store program.
In 2010, Gaerlan officially became a store partner. She said the program taught her customer service and salesmanship. She said the program also made her realize that it is better to have marginal profit from products that turn over quickly rather than huge profit from products that are slow to sell.
Gaerlan was only one of the hundreds of store partners across the nation who attended the 'Super!Store Reloaded', a celebration of the 10th year of the Super!Store program.
At the 'Super!Store Reloaded' event, participants were thanked for their continued partnership. They were treated to performances from stars, among them were Angeline Quinto and The Company, as well as raffle prizes.
Unilever Philippines executives also shared the achievements of and plans for the program.
Vice President for Customer Development Fredy Ong said that after 10 years, the company gained more than 2000 super store partners who service 50,000 Kabisig stores.
Ong said that among the plans for store partners are continued production of the right products for Filipinos and continued trainings for partners to achieve sustainable business.
A panel also shared the importance of mentoring, resilience, digitization, and inclusive financing to the attendees.
In an interview on the sidelines of the event, Vice President for Sustainable Business and Communications Ed Sunico said sustainability is at the core of the Super!Store program.
"Our sustainable living plan basically says that for us to grow the business, we have to grow it sustainably, making sure that we also increase our positive social impact in the communities we serve. The Super!Store program is a great example of that."
Sunico said that through the program, partners are taught management of household vs store expenses, basic entrepreneurial skills for small businesses, and resilience.
He added that Unilever is on "a constant lookout" for stores that can be identified as Super!Stores.
"There’s definitely room for more Super!Stores because of the sheer number of small sari-sari stores or kabisigs that we need to reach. The intent is find and develop as much Super!Stores as possible."
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