Lerma EnTAMpreneurs vs midyear: Spotting business alternatives

FEU Advocate
June 25, 2024 18:49

By Precious Nikole Tungpalan and Shayne Elizabeth Flores

With a low student influx during the midyear term, Far Eastern University (FEU) student-vendors uphold true entrepreneurial spirit by persisting to run their businesses through other venues in order to sustain livelihood.

From the usual hustle and bustle Lerma Street is known for, it has now gone quiet as the crowd of students dwindled since the summer break of its neighboring University. This proves to be a dilemma for most student-businesses that sell in the area as vital in any enterprise, big or small, are consumers who drive profitability.  

A product for every Tams

With a population of over thousands, every Tamaraw demands a diverse set of needs and wants. As a result, various businesses have risen after these student-sellers spotted a potential target market for their products. 

After noting the lack of dessert goods within the campus, third-year Business Management student Giselle Ronquillo shared in an interview with FEU Advocate that she promptly started a food business offering donuts, pancakes, croffles, and milk drinks. 

“I immediately introduced these products to my schoolmates and offered them at an affordable price so it will not greatly increase their expenses,” she stated.

Proven to be a hotspot for students and local businesses, Ronquillo chose to set up her food stall on the ever-bustling street of Lerma, as it is accessible not only to FEU students but also other potential customers within the University Belt.

On the other hand, second-year Interdisciplinary Studies student Francis Eldridge Ballecer’s merchandise satisfies a different kind of craving for the Tamaraw community. 

Known as ‘OnceDre Pasabuy,’ Ballecer is a concessionaire for anything K-pop related ever since 2019 and has been a Lerma enTAMpreneur for two months now. 

“I chose Lerma as a business site for me because of the foot-traffic of the people,” he specified. 

Lerma’s summer break 

Customers are undeniably the lifeblood of any business enterprise. That is why during periods like midyear when the once busy halls and crowded streets are hushed by the lack of Tamaraws, student-dependent enterprises inevitably dampen as well.

“It is a little bit sad because it is not the usual sales I have compared during the first or second semester,” Ronquillo stated.

As a result of the decreased number of customers, the student vendors highlighted a decline in income prompting them to rely on their personal allowance, savings, or loans for capital.

“I usually tap into my emergency funds when my income is low, or sometimes I loan or borrow extra funds from my parents,” Ballecer said.

Moreover, due to the sparse crowd of customers, this will often result in the wastage of perishable products.

“If I am not sure of the number of customers during the selling day, some [food] products that I will display may be wasted,” Ronquillo said.

Venturing beyond Lerma 

From one hurdle to another, the student-initiated online shopping site 'PiyuMart' has been the student sellers’ refuge ever since they were limited from selling inside the campus.

Aside from being an alternative to in-person selling, PiyuMart extends the sellers’ market reach by assisting them in navigating opportunities beyond the green-and-gold community.

“In PiyuMart, we lend a hand to each student seller and work as a team to look for events (particularly, universities) needing concessionaires for their events,” said Cinna’s Basket owner Karylle Francesca Trinidad.

The online market arose after student booths were abruptly cancelled due to the absence of business permits during the University’s 96th Founding Anniversary Week last February.

Additionally, they also utilize pre-existing digital platforms such as the Facebook group One Piyu Community (OPC) and other online shopping sites.

“I seldom post my items to online platforms such as Facebook via ‘mine’ basis in OPC then meeting up with the buyer inside the campus for item claiming. I also use Carousel and Shopee as an avenue for my business,” Trinidad added.

Since the start of the midyear, Ballecer and other sellers from PiyuMart have gone “university hopping” to continue to sell their products. 

“Me and other sellers from PiyuMart [are] selling sa De La Salle University Manila from June 10 to 20th for their University Mission Vision Week, which is I think a fund-raiser event,” he stated. 

As student-entrepreneurs recover from their short stupor beginning the midyear semester and catch their footing once again, their perseverance and persistence do not come unnoticed. It is through these challenges that Tamaraws brave beyond Lerma and thy happy halls, and venture other means. All with diligence and fortitude are they able to embody the true enTAMpreneur spirit. 

(Illustration by Alexandra Lim; Photo by Zedrich Xylak Madrid/FEU Advocate)