Technology-savvy young farmers from the rural towns of Mindanao in Southern Philippines are making the most of their technology know-how by working on business processing outsourcing (BPO) jobs at night while tending to their lands in the day.
Nilyn Baterna, of Kapatagan in Lanao del Norte, grew up in a farming family saddled by debts.
Now, after putting up his own startup outsourcing company, Baterna has paid up the family loans, and even acquired additional farm plots and helped in-laws start a food stall business.
“When I was young, our livelihood was farming. I learned how to farm, plow, plant, and to raise geese and pigs since I had to help my family because of our poverty,” Baterna recounted his life before becoming a digital entrepreneur.
Baterna’s digital company now has 21 direct employees and 44 part-time workers servicing clients who hire them for data entry and online clerical work, web design, social media marketing, and search engine optimization. The BPO workers earn from P8,000 a month to as much as P100,000 per project for programming jobs.
Another Kapatagan successful online worker is Kristine Ohagan, a young mother who previously made ends meet by peddling street foods. Now, Ohagan works at home on her computer which she managed to pay for within 6 months of taking several online jobs.
“Nowadays, I can afford to eat good food and treat my family,” Baterna said, while recalling the time she couldn’t even afford to buy bread because of their poverty.
The Department of Science and Technology-ICT Office (DOST-ICTO) is promoting online work in Kapatagan with workshops by resource persons to teach rural communities about online livelihood options.
“Basically, if you have a laptop and if you have connectivity, you can get a job. That’s the idea,” Monchito Ibrahim, DOST-ICTO deputy executive director, told media.
Kapatagan now has 5 homegrown small-scale BPO operations operating from homes or computer cafes.
The local government has pitched in support to the project by allocating P500,000 yearly for the training and maintenance of the computer center.
“Although ICT is still on a small scale here in our province, it has greatly contributed to our economy. With online jobs, instead of parents asking for loans from businessmen, their children are the ones financing their rice land through income earned online,” Kapatagan mayor Benjie Baguio said.
The traditionally agriculture-based municipality has reportedly allocated P7 million for the creation of an ICT hub in cooperation with the DOST-ICTO. The expansion of the project is expected to include persons with disability, women, out of school youth, and senior citizens in the program.