Student interns at the Community Innovations Studies Center (CISC) of the College of Public Affairs and Development (CPAf) prepared a business plan for a coco coir enterprise.
The CISC tapped five students of BS Agribusiness Management and Entrepreneurship (ABME) of the UPLB College of Economics and Management as part of its Internship Program for Midyear 2022. The five students who joined the program were Schamille Colleen P. Ardieta, Tristan Anthony C. Capistrano, Jasper Dane G. Dela Cueva, Jose Emmanuel U. Ortega, and Ma. Antonette Heinrizel M. Villapando. For two months (July to August), the student interns assisted the Imok Agrarian Reform Community (ARC) Women’s and Farmers’ Multi-Purpose Cooperative (IARCWFMPC) in developing a business plan for its coco coir enterprise.
IARCWFMPC is among the organizations supported by CISC under the project “Promotion and Market Linkaging of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organizations (ARBOs) Products.” The cooperative produced various coco coir products that heavily rely on traditional marketing or direct selling using offline strategies (e.g., attending trade fairs; print, radio, and television advertising; referrals/word of mouth).
The interns prepared a business plan for IARCWFMPC’s coco coir enterprise, focusing particularly on marketing, to keep up with the rapid changes and current trends in product promotion and marketing. The marketing plan contains strategies to generate social media leads and reach its target audience. They also created an online publicity plan for the business to establish a digital presence, which could help the Coop expand its customer reach. For this, the Coop will use its existing Facebook page. The said page will also be used as a platform to promote the business’ new tagline: “I’m OK sa Bunot,” which too, was conceptualized by the interns.
The 7-week internship program was packed with various activities including cooperative profiling, the conduct of rapid market and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analyses, preparation of the plan, and presentation of final outputs. These activities entailed interviews, seminars, workshops, and discussions with the cooperative officers and members and the CISC project team.
“The activities and target outputs prepared for us, interns, were quite intimidating and seemingly challenging from the get-go. However, they were quite aligned with the managerial concepts we have learned and the host training establishment [CISC] was there to guide us along the way,” said Ardieta.
The internship program aimed to improve the skills and competencies of the students by applying their academic learning to the actual working environment. It also aimed to uplift the career-readiness of the students for their eventual integration into the nation’s workforce.
“The skills applied in this internship were not limited to the concepts taught in our course. For example, having great communication skills is essential to gather the information that will be used in our outputs,” said Ortega.
“Critical thinking and interpersonal relationship skills are some of the life skills I developed and enhanced during the internship period. I also gained better self-awareness because of the different tasks and responsibilities given to us,” Capistrano added. Other skills that the interns learned were related to interpersonal communication, time management, and technical writing.
The CISC is a research center at CPAf that focuses on three main thrusts: community education, communities in transition, and community-based strategies for sustainable development. Initially created as the Agrarian Reform Institute in 1970, CISC has long been conducting socio-economic surveys, marketing, and organizational management projects in agrarian reform communities.