Launch of Vendor Business School Program to Empower Small Food Vendors in Quezon City, Philippines

Share this to :

February 8, 2024, marked a significant milestone in Quezon City, Philippines as the CGIAR Resilient Cities initiative in partnership with the Quezon City Local Government Unit proudly launched its innovative Vendor Business School (VBS) Program. A total of 140 men and women small food vendors who will participate in the VBS program were recognized during the event. The VBS aims to empower small food vendors by providing them with vital knowledge, skills, and resources to tackle their everyday business hurdles and enhance their food safety measures. The VBS program is designed to guide and support vendors through training sessions and mentorship programs focused on entrepreneurship, business planning, budgeting, marketing, risk management, adapting to technological changes, establishing financial connections, and ensuring food safety.

Quezon City stands out as one of the Philippines’ largest and most populous and dynamic urban centers. It is the largest city in Metro Manila by land area and serves as a major entry point for food and distribution across the entire metropolis. As a rapidly growing urban center, the city is dedicated to addressing the challenges of urbanization, including food security, environmental sustainability, and resilience to climate change. A study conducted by the Resilient Cities initiative in two urban centers in Metro Manila including Quezon City and Pasay, sheds light on the significant challenges small food vendors encounters impacting their daily operations and future prospects. Issues such as insufficient capital and limited understanding of essential business concepts lead to inadequate income. Small food vendors are keen on seeking expertise in various aspects of their businesses, including financial management, product quality enhancement, customer engagement, and communication with suppliers. Improving their entrepreneurial strategies catered to their unique circumstances, of the Vendor Business School Program, is crucial in improving their business outlook and achieve financial sustainability. [see further: “Validation Study for the Development of Vendor Business Schools in the Philippines”]

Recognizing the need for diversity and inclusivity, the VBS program places a special emphasis on encouraging participation from small food vendors coming from public and private markets, and temporary vending sites, especially women. The training workshops and coaching and mentoring sessions for the vendors will last for six months. The vendors will qualify for the livelihood program of Quezon City which provides a business capital grant for their businesses.

The launch event was attended by prominent figures from Quezon City and featured inspiring talks from Mayor Joy Belmonte and Vice Mayor Gian Sotto. Mayor Belmonte stressed, “The importance of VBS in empowering food vendors as responsible entrepreneurs and to uplift the dignity and knowledge of food vendors. She recognizes that VBS will help improve their small businesses and become partners in the city’s long-term plan of achieving food security,” The launch was also graced by the City Administrator Mike Alimurung; Ma. Margarita Santos, officer-in-charge of Market Development Administration Department and head of Business Licensing and Permits Department; Emmanuel Hugh Velasco II, co-chair of the QC Food Security Task Force; Mona Celine Yap, Head, Small Business Cooperatives Development and Promotions Office; Andrea Villaroman, Head, Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability Department; Cristina Perez, Head, Joy of Urban Farming; and selected City Councilors.

The event also included the introduction of the CGIAR Resilient Cities and VBS program. Resilient Cities team members who attended the event were Arma Bertuso, Phoebe Ricarte, and Marietta Nadal. Silvia Alonso, WP2 lead and Gordon Prain, Senior Advisor joined online and gave messages of support during the event.

VBS program also included training of facilitators coming from selected Quezon City Departments namely, the Market Development and Administration Department, Small Business and Cooperatives Development and Promotions Office, and Food Security Task Force, creating a dynamic platform for skill development. Twelve trained facilitators were also introduced and pledged commitment to help in the piloting of VBS in Quezon City.  [see further: “Training Empowers Facilitators to Enhance Vendor Business School Curriculum Understanding and Implementation”]

It is anticipated that the VBS will become a cornerstone in building more inclusive, innovative, and vibrant urban food markets. The launch signifies a commitment to shaping the future of urban food markets by empowering the small food vendors who are essential actors in urban food systems. The 140-target small food vendor participants had their first onboarding sessions in the week of 13-23 February 2024.


CGIAR Resilient Cities initiative: CGIAR Resilient Cities research initiative seeks to harness the dynamism of urban societies and economies to catalyze technological, institutional, and social change. By enabling agrifood system innovations and investment strategies for inclusive job and business opportunities, the Initiative aims to ensure access to healthier diets for all, safeguard human health, and minimize environmental risks. The initiative generates evidence, technologies, and capacities that help improve urban food systems and secure equitable job and business opportunities, healthy diets for all, human and environmental health, and a reduced carbon footprint. It forms part of CGIAR’s new Research Portfolio, delivering science and innovation to transform food, land, and water systems in a climate crisis.

Vendor Business School (VBS): The establishment of Vendor Business Schools (VBS) will serve as a platform for empowering small food vendors and equipping them with the necessary knowledge, skills, and resources to overcome the challenges they face in their day-to-day business practices. VBS draw upon the model of Farmer Business Schools (FBS), which have, through participatory action and the strengthening of agribusinesses, proven to be beneficial for over 3,500 farmers in India, Indonesia, and the Philippines (CIP, 2019). By providing targeted training, mentorship, and access to business support services, the VBS aims to enhance the entrepreneurial capacity of small food vendors, promote inclusive economic growth, and contribute to the overall resilience of the urban food system. Through the collaboration of various stakeholders, including local government authorities, academic institutions, and community organizations, the Vendor Business Schools can play a vital role in fostering a supportive and conducive environment for the sustainable development of small food businesses in the targeted cities.

Authors: Phoebe Ricarte (IRRI) and Arma Bertuso (CIP)

Share this to :