Josine Macaspac was one of the six finalists of the GFAR and YPARD’s Youth Argripreneur Project, who returned to her home in the Philippines to start building the Mechanical Post-Harvest Pest Removal System (MPReS): a manually-operated, mechanical device that can be used by farmers to easily and effectively remove post-harvest and storage pests in stored rice, corn and other grains. As one of the YAPpers, she received an intensive training helping her strengthen the business plan proposal presented with measurable milestones. Josine was also able to better engage in social media campaigning activities to ensure her project gained support. In addition, she has now has a mentor to help guide her during this upcoming period and make sure her project does succeed.
And now, it is 5 months later and she continues to relate her experience thus far…
Setbacks are a total bummer.
You start out with a project full of hope and fire and visions of success dancing in your head. There’s a feeling of being unbeatable that’s banging around in your chest, and you literally feel like there’s no challenge that you can’t face, especially if you’ve got a stellar team behind you.
Well, that’s what I felt a few months ago, when I finally found a person who was going to be able to build the Mechanical Pest Removal System. With the first tranche of the grant already sent to me, with a blueprint of the prototype ready, and a team that was willing to go the distance with me, I felt that we could face any obstacle that we would encounter on our way.
Hurdles Start to Appear
I’ve talked before how miserable and defeated I felt when we encountered a major design problem that set us back in the creation of the prototype. I’ve talked about how difficult it was finding the right people to talk to, and how disappointing it was being told over and over again how my idea was “impossible”.
If there’s something you never want to hear in the pursuit of a dream, it’s the word “impossible”.
Luckily for me, I was able to find someone who had the knowledge and experience I was looking for, and all it showed me was that I was looking in all the wrong places.
So, lesson number one: Never be afraid to ask for help from people. Be honest and sincere in your shortcomings, and never be embarrassed to let people know that you need a hand.
You never know where that hand is coming from. And just like it did me, it might surprise you.
The Momentum Returns
Once we had passed that major obstacle, I felt the life come back into my team. We were so excited because we had finally figured out the problem that was plaguing all of us, and we were ready to proceed forward with our design.
Now, an important shout-out is required. Due to so many unexpected costs, I found myself lacking funds at this point. The first tranche was spent with paying the engineers, the raw materials, the transportation, and other sundry costs that I didn’t expect.
This is where I have to take the time to thank everyone who took the time and effort and the leap of faith to donate to my crowdfund campaign. Although we were not able to reach the goal that I had set there, those who did donate were able to give me enough to scrape by and fund the final needs of building the prototype.
So, lesson number two: Use all the resources at your disposal. When I started the crowdfund campaign a few months ago, I thought that those funds would be set aside for when the machine would go into market production. However, I learned that there are always going to be circumstances that you won’t be able to foresee, and once those circumstances are there, you need to have the creativity to be able to use the resources at hand.
I guess everything happens for a reason, and even though the funds went to another purpose, I am thankful to everyone who donated, because I would have never been able to reach this step without their help.
The “EUREUKA” Moment
I’ve always loved the story of how Archimedes found his “eureka” moment. For those who don’t know, the dude was sitting in his bathtub when inspiration struck him, and in his excitement and happiness in solving his dilemma, he literally ran out of his home, shrieking in happiness, and as naked as the day he was born.
So, lesson number three: Celebrate your triumphs. When you finally get that moment when everything you and the people around you have worked for so hard, materializes in your front of your eyes, you’ll probably do the most embarrassing thing. But who cares.
Shout with joy. Do a happy dance.
Well, let me show you mine.
The Journey is just Beginning
However, my journey does not end here; if anything, this is the concrete start of the hardest part of my effort. After all, this machine won’t do any good for anyone if it’s sitting in the middle of a warehouse. Once we’ve completed the laboratory trials (number of pests killed and removed, moisture content of the produce before and after processing, etc.), we move on to the next part: field testing.
Our next step is to go out and bring the machine to those who need it the most, such as small-holder farmers and cooperatives.
Blogpost by Josine (“Jax”) Macaspac (josinemacaspac(at)yahoo.com), one of six finalists in the Youth Agripreneurs Project, a pilot project targeting young agricultural entrepreneurs (“agripreneurs”), co-organized by GFAR and YPARD. The YAP Finalists launched their projects during the #GCARD3 Global Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, 5-8 April 2016.