Ms. Thelma Reyes-Miclat, or more commonly known as Tayna, is the founder of Rey-Mic Enterprise in Davao City, a social enterprise that produces gourmet salted fish and employs non-working mothers. In its company description, it states, “We strongly believe that the personal needs of most women who have devoted thir lives fending for the household needs have somehow been neglected, thus the need to be empowered.”
The DLSU Center for Business Research and Development – Social Enterprise Research Network interviews Tayna, wherein she talks about her social enterprise’s focus on women empowerment, her previous experience in the corporate setup, and the importance of social entrepreneurship.
Can you describe to us your value proposition and what makes the business unique?
In the first place, we are all women in the business, and I do not say that they are my employees, they are more of my partners. Many women are typically given the burden in the household and have no capacity to finish college—that is what I tapped within the community. It becomes easy for us to partner with them because even if they work for eight hours or more, they can still go home and attend to the laundry or cook. That is the opportunity for us to do business and at the same time help these women continue to perform their tasks as mothers.
I was a working mom, but in the corporate setup. Even though I had the decision-making power, I still valued family. This is because work should never compete with family or vice-versa. What I did before when I was with Sky Cable was I had an area made for mothers to be able to bring their children at least once a week to the workplace. That is the bonding between mother, father, and child—I applied that practice here in my social enterprise.
Can you tell us more about your professional experience? Did you work for a long time at Sky Cable?
I was in marketing at Sky Cable, and then I was suddenly transferred to customer service—this is one of the most stressful jobs. The tendency is that my people will go home tired and stressed, and this affects their children. Most of them are women, so as you can see I really value women. In the workplace, if the women simultaneously get pregnant, that also becomes a problem. The society dictates that if a woman gets pregnant, it is automatically a burden to the company. These women take a leave of absence for around 60 or 75 days, and once they return to the workplace, there comes a time where they become insecure due to being gone for long. That is what I want to address. As a woman, I can relate. Whenever women get insecurities during the time of childbirth and this happens simultaneously with postpartum, the situation worsens.
During my time at Sky Cable, there are also women coming to me, complaining about their husbands due to infidelity and involvements with vices or other issues. I started an annual Halloween treat to bring together the mothers, fathers, and children, and from there it became a tradition and bonding time for them. I realized, I think this model should apply to companies that are very machismo and patriarchal. We must strengthen the women and wives in whatever form, and enable a participative environment for them.
Going back to your social enterprise, can you tell us more about Rey-Mic Enterprise’s work with the Great Women Project?
We wanted to partner with the Moro women of Maguindanao, and this was possible because of the Mindanao Business Council and Department of Science and Technology who brought 15 Maguindanaoan women to our facility and encouraged them to join. The Moro women said they wanted tons of supplies. Our negotiations went great. As for me, I taught the Moro women how to teach their own children and become empowered in their own, simple ways. The biggest problem at that time was the Mamasapano clash. It was okay beforehand, then security went bad. We did not earn much.
Given your corporate and social entrepreneurship experience in business, are there any tips that you can give to other social entrepreneurs?
Check if you are doing it for yourself only or if you are doing things that you want others to benefit from. Sometimes, you’re more educated than the others, so your stock knowledge will have to be imparted. For me that is social entrepreneurship. It is really being able to share what you have. If you do that, then perhaps you can be what is called a socially-responsible person.