Sunday, July 04, 2010

Lady jeweler shines in Netherlands tilt

Lady jeweler shines in Netherlands tilt
By Juan Escandor Jr.
Inquirer Southern Luzon
July 3, 2010

NAGA CITY – A plan of a costume jewelry business here to expand and systematize direct selling through the e-commerce and local networking recently won an international competition.

Marianne Olaño, owner and designer of Baycrafts Jewelry, dislodged four other finalists in the category retail business for women coming from the so-called emerging markets, in the Women in Business Retail Prize during the international Business in Development Challenge (BiD) held in The Netherlands from May 28 to June 5.

Her proposed budget is 18,000 euros (P1.45 million).

This year’s competition included another finalist from the Philippines, one from Colombia and two from India.

For winning the top prize in the BiD’s international event, Olaño received a certificate and 10,000 euros (P570,000) which will be used to implement the business plan she developed to improve the sales of the microbusiness and help women in the locality earn additional income.

In an article written by Susan Randall for www.bidnetwork.org, she noted the Philippines as a role model in empowering women in business, saying that “several women from the Philippines attending the session found it hard to relate to some of the obstacles faced by women elsewhere. They said that in their country, women commonly held strong positions of leadership in companies, and didn’t face such high obstacles when starting their own business.”

Randall continued: “In fact, the Philippines has been consistently ranked in the top 10 of the Gender Gap Index over the last four years (6 of the top 10 ranked countries located in northern Europe), and is also the highest ranking in Asian country.

This index, which is published every year by the World Economic Forum, quantifies the efforts of countries in narrowing and eradication the gap between men and women, based on data measuring Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment. Last year, the Philippines was one of only two countries in Asia (along with Mongolia) to have closed the gender gap on both health and education.”

Olaño, who arrived Sunday from Europe, was sponsored by the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and the BiD in The Netherlands.

“The BiD Challenge is an online business plan competition among enterprising ideas that combine profit with the improvement of living standards in a country,” according to an official release from the organizers.

Olaño says the main competition was the “pitch session” with three-member jury who grilled finalists for 30 minutes with their practical queries that tended to shoot the plan presented after a two-minute pitch.

She says she presented her two-minute pitch with her experience in putting up the Baycrafts Jewelry to the present selling strategy through e-commerce, trade fairs and direct selling.

Olaño explains her plan to harness the Internet through formalization of terms between direct sellers and the Baycrafts Jewelry regarding the products it sells, starting with website application where terms and conditions are stipulated for signing in to access other services like catalogues of products with brand and prices.

The information for members included other information like FAQ (frequently asked question) and other references, she adds.

Olaño estimates she still needs at least 8,000 euros (P456,000) to fully put her business plan in operation.

The plan includes expenses in updating and producing downloadable soft copy of the catalogue, ordering brand tags of the Baycrafts Jewelry, packaging materials and establishment of a center where she could conduct direct selling orientation for prospective women sellers.

She targets to provide incentives of 30-35 percent earnings to direct sellers of Baycrafts Jewelry products from the present earning incentive of 20 percent.

Olaño is the sole proprietor of Baycrafts Jewelry which she started four years ago after she quit her work in a department store in Manila and a media network.

She graduated cum laude in AB Development Communication at the Ateneo de Naga University in 1997 with a perspective to make it big in the media industry until she decided to shift career from news hen to an entrepreneur of custom-made jewelry using indigenous and synthetic materials such as pearls, wood, fiber, seeds, glass and crystals.

“We make one-of-a-kind fashion jewelry by buying beads from different sources and assembling them in our factory in Naga City. We also make our own components by mixing media such as seeds, textiles, fabric and etc.,” she reveals.

Olaño says her product market are women 30 years old and above who feel the need to become fashionable without busting their budget by the offer of the Baycrafts Jewelry’s one-of-a-kind accessories which are affordable and wearable.

At present, Baycrafts Jewelry has resellers in Manila, Cebu, Iloilo, Baguio, Pangasinan, Leyte, Legazpi City and Iriga City as well as distributors in US, Canada and UK.

Olaño says with the business plan that won her the top prize in Women in Business Retail she hopes to grow from micro to medium enterprise by selling earrings, bracelets, necklaces, hair ornaments, rings and feet accessories.