Transnational Dry Goods Enterprises

This case study led by Lynne Milgram investigates small-scale transnational trade in the Baguio City Public Market and how entrepreneurs decide what aspects of conventional economic practice to maintain (and in what forms) and which aspects to contest, alter, and reconstruct in order to privilege alternative or community economy actions.

Self-employed merchant-entrepreneurs (primarily women) in the Baguio City Public Market (BCPM) specialize in sourcing and selling imported goods through both mainstream commercial and gifting channels.  Approximately 75 per cent of small dry goods stalls in the BCPM receive a substantial portion of their stock in the form of in-kind gifts sent by relatives living abroad in North America.  The goods that BCPM cross-sector entrepreneurs sell may include non-Filipino processed foods (coffee, chocolates, condiments, alcohol), health supplements, cosmetics, and secondhand clothing.

Do transnational entrepreneurs combine mainstream capitalist practice to ensure the viability of their businesses while simultaneously operationalizing alternative economic activities that support fair(er) terms of trade, social justice initiatives, and localized sustainability in the Philippines?  What are the alternative economic logics that motivate and define these transnational entrepreneurial activities?   Are these activities sustainable in the long term or to what extent may these activities be overpowered by conventional economic practice?