Anna Tajannah ‘Jannah’ Basman, Coordinator for Community Initiatives at the Taha Foundation PH and a fellow of the Future Bridging Leaders Program (FBLP) 3, recently launched a social enterprise called ‘Maharlika Taste’. The enterprise aims to introduce Mindanao’s native dishes prepared by Muslim widows from Maharlika, Taguig City to the rest of the Philippines. The first product they introduced to the market was the savory bottled Beef Randang — first sold online through their Facebook and Instagram pages and now available in Shopee for shipping nationwide.
Maharlika is a barangay in Taguig City known for having the largest Muslim population in Metro Manila. Despite its history of being a residential enclave for Muslim elites in the 1960s, Maharlika has, over the years, gradually turned into a refuge for Muslim migrants from various areas of the Philippines seeking better lives in the Metro. Some of these include children who lost their fathers at an early age due to armed conflict or ill health. The Taha Foundation PH, in partnership with Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD), has been running the Orphan Support Program (OSP) since 2016 to provide the aforementioned children’s basic needs—such as monthly rice, hygiene kits, school supplies, among others—so that they can focus on their education.
Before joining FBLP 3 in 2019, Jannah envisioned the Foundation to go beyond giving dole-outs to the orphans in Maharlika by developing a social enterprise that can empower their mothers and guardians through a sustainable livelihood. Equipped with the coaching and guidance of the AIM TeaM Energy Center for Bridging Leadership (TEC-BL), Jannah conducted a Rapid Area Assessment (RAA) in her community and discovered that preparing authentic Mindanao native dishes is one of the skills the Muslim widows can build upon due to their intimate knowledge of the art. Cooking is also an activity that they enjoy doing, and a way for them to revisit their cultural heritage.
After the initial preparations were halted due to COVID-19 lockdowns, Jannah and her team resumed the enterprise development in June 2020 and requested the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for a community-based skills development training on product development and food safety. Through the DOST sessions and continuous guidance from AIM TEC-BL, they came up with the idea of developing ready-to-eat Mindanaoan native dishes-in-a-bottle as their main product, and branded their social enterprise as ‘Maharlika Taste’.
In September, the product caught the interest of DOST – National Capital Region (NCR), which gave them a grant amounting to P443,000 (USD 9,187) through its Grants-in-Aid (GIA) Program. They used the grant to procure industrial-grade kitchen equipment and product laboratory testing.
Maharlika Mothers (L-R): Ate Bailani, Ate Norania, Ate Emmie, and Ate Edna
Through their Facebook page, they launched their bottled Beef Randang at an introductory price of P250 (USD 5) in the first week of October. In just ten days, a total of 196 bottles were sold. The mothers were so happy with the substantial amount of earnings they made, with just 3 days’ worth of production. One of them even said that if this continues, they no longer need to work abroad to earn better income and leave their children behind. They can just stay in Maharlika, earn a living, and still be present in the lives of their children, while also generating cultural pride for their community.
Get to meet Jannah and other fellows at the FBLP 3 Online Public Recital happening this November to know more about their exciting change projects.
For more details or inquiries about Bridging Leadership and the next FBLP cohort, you may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.