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Former out-of-school youth takes part in Angeles City street food scene

USAID has been strengthening support systems for young entrepreneurs in the Philippines.
At dusk, Rizal Street in Angeles City comes to life as a bustling food lane offering the best local street food cuisine. Just an hour outside Metro Manila, here, young entrepreneurs with a passion for food set up their carts every day. Among them is Clark Catacutan, 21. He parks his motor bike, with a cart attached giving him just enough space for ingredients to prepare his very own version of nachos. ‘Nachos de Motor’ was only a dream. But today, Clark’s vision of being part of a community of food entrepreneurs has come true.

Clark was unsuccessful in his first business endeavor. He was not gaining enough income to sustain operations.

An estimated four million Filipino youth are out-of-school, many come from lower income households forced to help support their families. The same was true for Clark. He had to start working at a very young age, helping out at his uncle’s small businesses as well as his mom’s small snack bar, all to augment their family’s income.

USAID has been supporting the Philippine government enhance its training programs for out-of-school youth. Over the past two years, Be Your Own Boss content has been added and institutionalized into services for out-of-school youth, including programs by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. Clark gained essential skills on business start-ups when he was taking a vocational course two years prior, something that was not yet available before then. The additional training content USAID introduced gives Filipino learners a significantly higher chance of post-training success.

Through his training, Clark topped a business pitching contest and received a business starter kit from the Department of Trade and Industry, a strong member of the city’s Youth Development Alliance. 

Aside from enhancing training curricula, USAID has also been supporting local actors to come together as a group of youth champions. Through this alliance, youth-serving agencies, business groups, and civil society organizations are able to put high priority for the marginalized out-of-school youth population and funnel resources together in collaborative youth development initiatives.

“Aspiring entrepreneurs can get their businesses on track. I highly encourage students who want to fund their schooling or people who just want to earn money to try and start a business.” Clark’s ‘Nachos de Motor’ business serves at least 300 people a week, most of them now repeat customers. Clark is currently working on launching a second pop-up branch. “I like Mexican food, but they can be expensive and not easily available. But with ‘Nachos de Motor,’ I made it so it’s affordable and filling. I also make my own cheese sauce!”

Be Your Own Boss helps learners lead business startups with empathy and using community mapping tools. Participants are able to find more clarity about the solutions and products they can bring into their community to ensure clientele and growth.