One can say that Leovina Dinglasan, resident of Bay, Laguna and proprietor of Bine’s Catering Services, is fortunate. She is the sole provider of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks at the CARD Training Center in the same town, where all its members who attend seminars on running a business, congregate.
Leovina is not a stranger to CARD. She has been a member of he microfinance organization since 1993. She is familiar with the way the institution is run and with the discipline and prudent management practices it tries to impart to its members.
Many, many years ago, Leovina and her husband only needed a loan to help them in the business of breeding and raising pigs. CARD gave them access to startup capital — without them having to present collateral — which they used in starting this business. The earnings were enough for them to survive on a dayto-day basis.
A few years hence, and Leovina’s interest in and talent for cooking manifested itself. She was invited to cook snacks for a handful of employees at the center. people liked her food. These engagements were not regular at the start so she still had time to tend to her pigs.
However, the requests came more often and in greater number. It was at this point that Leovina had the idea of investing in a catering business. This would enable her to handle large orders on a regular basis. Leovina pitched her idea to CARD officials, who knowing her to be hardworking, reliable and disciplined, had no qualms granting her a loan to get her small enterprise started. Leovina used the funds to buy kitchen and serving equipment.
What happened next was a testament to CARD’s desire for its members and borrowers to succeed. It entered into a contract with Leovina for the latter to provide catering services to the training center every time there was an event. Leovina’s services are not exclusive to CARD, however. She also gets invitations to cater to her town mates for different occasions — baptismal parties, weddings, birthdays, and feasts. She tries to be available to all, so long as the schedule does not conflict with CARD’s events.
At present, Leovina has two helpers, two waiters, and another standby assistant whom she calls on during especially hectic days. She says she is very happy when she sees the list of the following week’s seminars and visitors — more work, but more opportunities to make an honest living.
Despite her existing contract with CARD, Leovina knows better than to be complacent. She knows that along with the trust that the company bestowed on her is a great challenge to give her best to the business as well as to meet her monthly payments. She wants to be worthy of that trust.
She does this by taking feedback and comments from her clients very seriously. She is always eager to know whether guests like the food she serves, if they think something was lacking from the menu, or if they wish they had been served another dish instead.
Once, Leovina discovered that the amount of food she prepared fell short of the number of guests who attended the function. At that point, she could do nothing but offer profuse apologies and offer those affected fruits and crackers instead. Because of this incident, Leovina thought the worst — that she would lose clients and CARD’s confidence. She soon realized she could treat this incident as an opportunity to do better in the future – to learn a new lesson. Since then, providing adequate allowances for “surprise” guests has become standard practice for her. After all, it is more acceptable to have excess food which can be packed and taken home than a shortage of it. Most importantly, she realized that one has to forgive oneself, to get over a mistake and try again, harder than before.
CARD stood by Leovina.
Leovina has prepare many menus, but she is always open to client requests. She believes that by accommodating such, she is able to show that she deeply cares about her customers and has their best interests in mind.
Sometimes, Leovina encounters problems with her young staff members, who can be juvenile and playful at times. In this regard, she is more than a boss — she also takes on the role of a mother, who has genuine concern for her dependents. She sternly advises them on what to do and what not to do, to be professional in their duties. She reminds them to love their job, and value those whom they serve regardless of whether they are VIps or not.
Leovina has never missed a monthly amortization. She is ready to show CARD that she is grateful for its continued support and trust, particularly during the startup years, when she was so hard up that she could not present any collateral. Today, she welcomes having to meet such obligations, in a way, because she believes it instills a sense of discipline in her. Otherwise, she feels she might be tempted to spend her money unproductively on unnecessary things.
Moving forward, she says has bigger plans for herself and her family. As an entrepreneur, she is truly inspired and knows she can achieve more. With the trust and support that CARD has given her, she feels that there is so much to live for.
~ Leovina Dinglasan