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DICT helps establish IT business 

Feeling lost and anxious about the future is what most young adults experience when they go through a quarter-life crisis – a phase in life for people between the ages of 20 and 30 years old.  In this age bracket, life circumstances forced people to go through a transformative stage of their well-being, dealing well with internal purges that urged them to work on their pursuit of fulfilling their life purpose and fully bloom into responsible adults.

Janrie Lucero Lacsamana shared the same experience. He, too, had gone through a phase of inner turmoil, which made him feel lost and stuck in a situation he thought was almost impossible to get over. A graduate of Bachelor of Arts in Information Technology from Eastern Visayas State University (EVSU) in 2015, he used to work in a local Business Process Outsorcing company for four years but realized the lack of personal growth while working as a Data Entry and Quality Assurance Specialist.

“After working in an office, parang na-realize ko sa sarili ko na parang hindi na ako nag-go-grow. [After working in an office, I realized the lack of personal growth in me],” the Tacloban-born entrepreneur recalled what he felt back then.

DICT training

It was during this challenging time when he heard news from his friend that the Department of Information and Communications Technology Region 8 (DICT-8) was offering training on different technical courses for aspiring online freelancers through Digital Jobs PH Training Program.

DICT is a government agency committed to sustaining the growth of the Philippine ICT-enabled industries which will eventually open doors for more job opportunities. Its Digital Jobs PH Training Program, a nationwide implemented program that began in 2018, was designed to provide free training for jobseekers to jumpstart an online freelancing career which will help combat unemployment issues, especially in rural areas.

“So, before, hesitant talaga akong mag-join ng training kasi parang another na naman na phase ng buhay ko. [Before, I was really hesitant to join the training because it’ll be another phase of my life],” he expressed his concern as it might be difficult for him to start all over again.

However, he continued to weigh things in and chose the best option for him during that time. “Pero parang sinabi ko, ‘what if i-try lang’. So, nag-try ako ng training for almost three months. [But I kind of told myself, ‘what if I’ll just give it a try’. So, I did try and the training lasted for almost 3 months],” he said.

After nearly three months of training, DICT offered another one that lasted a week wherein they had to apply what they had learned in the past months through helping the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). This training also led him to meet his current teammates who helped him build his startup company.

Excitement and joy were evidently shown on their faces as Janrie Lacsamana and his team, together with former DICT-8 Regional Director Leo Cipriano Urbiztondo Jr., were signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to formalize their partnership with the DICT-8. (Photo courtesy by IFTP)

According to Lacsamana, the idea of building a startup company started as a joke between him and his fellow scholars and mentors, yet after a week or two of processing the papers needed to establish the company, the birth of the what will become the role model of a thriving business for the MSMEs in the region became a reality.

A push for IT-driven service

ICT For The People (IFTP) IT Solutions, the startup business he built with his friends, is the first company in Eastern Visayas to pioneer in providing IT services that are accessible to the locals.

The company helped improve the businesses of MSMEs through website development, social media management, mobile application development and continuous IT consultation. In addition, the company also did partnership deals with different government agencies to provide assistance in their projects and training to aspiring freelancers.

The 30-year-old CEO admitted that it wasn’t a smooth sailing journey. There were countless times that he felt like giving up and had to question if he was on the right path.

“May season na walang projects, may season na biglang sobrang daming project. May time na parang maiisip mo na, 'nag-go-grow pa ba ang business?' [There are seasons that we don’t have projects and seasons where we'll suddenly get too many projects than usual. There are times that will make you wonder if your business is still growing.]”

Lacsamana assisted a participant during a Digital Marketing training session, in partnership with DTI for High Value Coconut Products MSMEs. (Photo courtesy by Janrie Lacsamana)

Despite the challenges, he pushed himself not to dwell for too long on the worries that crowded his thoughts. Instead, he found ways to bring back his motivation through listening and reading inspirational stories and avoided those that would pull him back down the spiral.

“Before you start freelancing, isipin mo parati kung bakit mo 'to ginagawa. Yun yung pinaka-main goal mo, [Before you start freelancing, you need to always think the purpose behind your goal],” Lacsamana advised aspiring freelancers in an interview.

However, while everyone was losing their jobs and entrepreneurs were closing their business establishments and filing for bankruptcy during the COVID-19 pandemic, the digital and e-commerce sectors boomed. This paved the way for increased number of his clients in ICT For The People IT Solutions since other jobs are done in a work-from-home setup due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, and the services they provide are being offered online.

Aside from his startup company, Lacsamana and his team also had other online jobs because they knew that they cannot solely rely on his company as their only source of income.

Impact, gratitude

“Yung impact ng DICT sa amin is malaki talaga kasi parang nag-change yung mindest ko at saka yung team ko parang nag-iba yung pananaw namin sa buhay kasi dati iniisip ko lang papaano ba magtrabaho ng 8-5pm kind of job. Pero na-realize ko nung nagti-training na ako about sa freelancing industry, pwede palang mag-grow as a person para magkaroon ka ng work-life balance, [DICT's impact on us is really immense because it changed our mindset. My team and I used to chase and wonder how to get into our 8-5 dream jobs. Until I realized during the training about the freelancing industry that it was possible that you'll grow as a person while also maintaining the work-life balance],” as he was reflecting on his journey towards becoming his own boss.

“So, yun yung malaking impact sa akin especially now na meron na akong baby. So, yung pag-aalaga ko sa baby ko at saka yung pagtatrabaho ko nasasabay ko, [So, that's how impactful it was on me especially now that I already have a baby. Now, I can both take good care of my baby while working on my job],” he added.

The smiling CEO of ICT For The People as he expresses his gratitude to their partner government agencies especially with the DICT-8 during his interview with PIA 8. (Photo courtesy by Eric Ladrera)

He also expressed his gratitude to the agency that created opportunities for him that was not in sight a few years back, which led him to the success he is now experiencing.

"I'm very grateful to them (referring to DICT) na sobrang lakas ng impact, ng tulong sa amin because without them, wala kaming mga opportunities na ganito, wala kaming partnership with the DOST, the DTI and the other MSMEs na matutulungan din namin. [I’m very grateful to them (referring to DICT) for their impact is strong and the help they provided for us because without them, we won’t have the same opportunities like this. We won’t be able to be partners with DOST, DTI and other future MSMEs that we are glad to be of good help],” he said.

“Kasi parang before that time iniisip namin ng team ko kung paano kami makakatulong sa community kasi parang iniisip namin how can we help the community but also by having an income also para sa team namin. So, yung DICT talaga yung sagot sa mga tanong namin. So, ngayon nakakatulong na kami sa mga MSMEs, sa community at saka sa government din. [My team and I used to wonder how we can help the community while also earning money for the team. Little did we know, it was only DICT who'd answer that question we've been asking for quite some time. Today, we are honored that we are not only helping the MSMEs, the community but the government as well],” he added.

Some individuals who have faced similar crises may find it challenging to navigate their way forward, yet others have not only survived but thrived, just like Lacsamana, who was once lost in his mid-20s but now stands sure and secure in himself. This transformation was possible due to DICT's program and Lacsamana's choice to confront and overcome the fear of the unknown. (MMP/VCCL/PIA Leyte)

About the Author

Valerie Cole Libarios

Writer/Production Assistant

Region 8

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