From passion to prosperity


KSK alumna Virgie with some of her mushroom chicharon products

Gone are the days when farming was viewed as a backbreaking profession with limited growth potential. With the advent of modern practices, agriculture is emerging as a field ripe with profitability and positive impact.

Virgie showcases her products at a Women’s Month fair in Angeles City, Pampanga

This was also the hope of visionary and SM Group founder Henry "Tatang" Sy Sr., when he established SM Foundation's Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan (KSK) on Sustainable Agriculture program. 


Since 2007, the program has been empowering low-income farmers by providing training in modern farming techniques. It has now trained nearly 30,000 individuals across the Philippines with the tools and knowledge to improve their livelihoods and foster food security in their communities.

 One of the successful farmers is Virgie Gonda, a KSK Batch 221 alumna from Tarlac City.

Virgie joins the bazaar of a Sustainability Summit in Makati City to showcase her products.

Vangie grew up immersed in the challenges of farming: “Bata pa lang ako ay mulat na ako sa buhay ng magsasaka dahil dakilang magsasaka ang aking ama. Nakita ko sa Tatay ko ang hirap ng old farming style. Mangungutang siya ng pangsaka... napunta lang halos sa pambayad sa utang.”

Inside Virgie’s mushroom farm

After years of meager harvests, earning only P10,000 despite hard work, Virgie sought change. Learning modern farming techniques from KSK with SM Foundation’s partner school, she found hope at St. Isidore 'the FARMer' Learning Center, Inc. This decision transformed her life, as she gained knowledge in the 14-week training period, from farming techniques to business basics.

Virgie utilizes entrepreneurial ventures to strategically position her product for success.

Through KSK, she learned the potential beyond farm-to-market sales, processing the mushrooms she grew in her farm to extend its shelf life and expand her product offerings.

From cultivating a small patch of mushrooms, Virgie's business thrived, earning P30,000 monthly. Farmer's Market Day in SM City Tarlac propelled her mushroom chicharon. Her entrepreneurial spirit expanded, offering banana and kamote chips, and fruit vinegars.

Virgie and her fellow KSK alumni join the SM Foundation Sunday Market in SM City Tarlac.

Inspired by Henry “Tatang” Sy's Life Principles, she embraced hard work and passion: “‘Work hard and have a great passion to achieve.’ Lagi kong isinasapuso na kung hindi mo ta-trabahuhing maigi ang nasimulan mo, ‘di ka magtatagumpay.”


“Gusto ko rin tumulong sa kapwa naming farmers... ‘yun mga tinuruan ko sa pagtatanim ng mushroom ay nagsu-supply na rin sa amin,” she shared, reflecting her commitment to community empowerment.


With optimism, she plans to strengthen her business, aiming to uplift fellow farmers.