The case of Belen Pugata, an officer of the Junkshop Operator’s Association in Cavite, Philippines represents how women have become more actively involved in managing recyclable materials in the country. Ms. Pugata has a degree in accounting and keeps a day job as a bookkeeper in a private company. In her free time she manages a junkshop business that she co-owns with her husband.
Both husband and wife share their task equally. Her husband finds sources of recyclables materials, acts as a go-between with potential buyers and manages the daily operations of the shop. Ms. Pugata, on the other hand, takes care of the books and paper works before going to work and during weekends. She learned the intricacies of the junk shop business through her brother who is also a junkshop owner.
Junkshops in the Philippines are usually family-run businesses that buy recyclable materials from the local community and consolidate these for re-selling to larger operators. In Ms. Pugata’s case, their junkshop business is attached to the family home. Although this can reduce operational cost, it also carries risks such as noise pollution to the household. As a woman working in a mostly male-dominated business, Ms. Pugata also said she is vulnerable to verbal abuse by irate
customers. However, this does not stop her from continuing with the family business and says that she copes by learning better customer relations skills. Aside from handling the finances and paper work, Ms. Pugata also uses networking to expand her business. In 2008, she and her husband managed to bag a contract with the Department of Education office that allowed her company to bid for the scrap materials left from the demolition of the agency’s local office.
Ms. Pugata says that her involvement in the junkshop business empowers her because she plays a major role in its sustainability and profitability. She is also confident because she has the capacity to make decisions in the business. Based on her knowledge and experience in the junkshop business she says that developing and having confidence means having a personal vision and believing in ones self.