Angeles City is home to nearly half a million people, ranking fifth among the most improved highly urbanized cities in the Philippines. The bustling city is also a known proponent of culinary tourism, with many small businesses serving unconventional staples-turned-crowd favorites. One of which is the so-called “totobits” – or what Angeleños commonly refer to as street food.
Glenn dela Merced, 23, saw an opportunity to make a business out of this craving. He took part in a recently held Design Thinking for Entrepreneurship Bootcamp conducted by USAID’s Opportunity 2.0 program in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). During this camp, he collaborated with two other groupmates and they came up with “Da Noodle Way,” a food cart business that will sell fried noodle dish topped with totobits, something relatively new to Angeles City.
“Pinakamahalagang natutunan ko is how to market. Not just our product, but to also market our stories – kung paano nabuo ang business namin,” dela Merced shared.
(The most important thing I learned from the program is how to market – not just for our product, but also to market our stories – like why and how we came up with this business.)
Design thinking helps budding entrepreneurs view their businesses in the context of their community. This way, using empathy, they can finetune their business ideas in ways that bring value to members of their community. Through the boot camp, they are able to brainstorm with other like-minded youth and have local mentors guide them to finalize a viable business plan as well as connect them to funding opportunities. This is why the DTI saw the value in integrating Design Thinking into its Youth Entrepreneurship Program.
The boot camp held in Angeles City in November 2022 supported 23 out-of-school youth participants finalize the business plans they first drafted through Be Your Own Boss modules, adopted from the Education Development Center. Local private sector partners and DTI trainers served as mentors to the youth.
“Ang kanilang mga karanasan, mga stratehiya sa pagnenegosyo na kanilang ibinabahagi ay malaking tulong upang kami ay lumago sa pagnenegosyo (The experiences and strategies they shared have been really helpful to us who are starting our own businesses),” Dela Merced said having business leaders mentor aspiring Gen Z entrepreneurs is a big help as they embark on their own journey.
A pitch competition culminated the camp, where the youth presented their business ideas to a panel of Angeles City entrepreneurs. With support from local private sector partners, the pathway for youth to self-employment becomes easier.
“The private sector partners are the prime movers in economic growth. They create jobs, provide goods and services, and assist with the community's needs. This means employment opportunities for our youth, mentorship for budding entrepreneurs, and a stronger community support system for upskilled youth,” added Sheh Canlas, Opportunity 2.0’s Private Sector Officer in Angeles City.
As a USAID Opportunity 2.0 private sector partner and a champion of youth in Angeles City, the Guagua Rural Bank pledged ₱5,000 to Dela Merced’s group to help ‘Da Noodle Way’ jumpstart its operations. Other winning groups who rounded up the Top 3 also received a cash prize of ₱3,000 and ₱2,000, respectively.
DTI Pampanga assured participants that they will be given livelihood packages under the department’s ‘Pangkabuhayan sa Pagbangon at Ginhawa’ program. Canlas also said that after the boot camp, the Pampanga Business Development Coordinating Council(1), will assist the youth in scaling up their business venture incubations and look into access to possible government programs and other funding assistance.
“Sa DTI at sa mga taong tumulong sa amin, maraming salamat po! Dahil sa inyo, mas nabigyan ng kulay ang aming buhay dahil ipinakilala niyo sa amin ang ganda ng pagiging isang entrepreneur,” dela Merced added. “Ang inyong mga payo at tulong ay hindi namin sasayangin sa abot ng aming makakaya at amin itong palalaguin.”
(To DTI and to everyone who helped us, we thank you! You brought hope to our lives because you showed us the beauty of being an entrepreneur. Your guidance and assistance will not be put to waste and we will try our hardest so these efforts will bear fruit.)
The DTE boot camp in Angeles City is the fourth run of the camp after its successful pilot in Tagbilaran, Legazpi City, and Cagayan de Oro since 2021. USAID has been supporting DTI enhance its Youth Entrepreneurship Program so that it can reach more out-of-school youth across the Philippines. Through alliance building, USAID is also connecting DTI to the private sector so that together, they can pursue common goals on inclusive local economic growth.#
(1) Members of the Pampanga Business Development Coordinating Council include Metro Angeles Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc.; Holy Angel University-TBI Encephalon; Pampanga State Agricultural University-Sibul TBI; Metro Clark Information and Communications Technology Council; Ateneo Graduate School of Business Student Council; Hotel and Restaurant Association in Pampanga; Young Entrepreneurs of Pampanga; Clark Investors and Locators Associations; and Food Sec Filipinas and Young Farmers Challenge Club of the Philippines.