Cara Mae Riña and Dexter Tanengsy share blessings through Project Me
By Fiona Patricia S. Escandor
CARA Mae Riña and Dexter Tanengsy are often spotted in coffee shops, with notebooks and tablets on hand, engrossed in casual conversation. It’s a usual sight of today’s generation of young professionals, yet the two are certainly not of the archetypal mould. Career-oriented, focused and driven, the two 24-year-olds display more than just the go-getter attitude. Young as they are, they’re already working on an advocacy, and that is to share that sense of empowerment to others.
In August of 2014, Cara and Dexter founded Project Me Co., a group that specializes in personal development trainings, zeroing in on financial literacy. The two shared that it was born out of their zeal to do more for society, and the venture is something they do on top of their own responsibilities in their respective businesses.
“We felt a strong desire to share what we have learned through the years in finance and entrepreneurship,” said Dexter. “Although Cebu has consistently produced world-class entrepreneurs, we felt that unlike Metro Manila, there is no support group here that caters to personal finance and management literacy.”
They themselves have participated in similar workshops in Manila, where they had both studied for college. Overwhelmed at how many young professionals there are already show interest at financial planning, they hoped to spark the same level of appreciation in Cebu. “Ultimately, we strive to encourage Cebuanos to be serious about their financial health, and empower them by providing avenues for self-improvement through learning,” Cara said.
Programs and pursuits
The first series of workshops Cara and Dexter organized was the Equity and Forex Bootcamp that had Ron Acoba, a certified market technician, as speaker. They have also fiddled with personal development trainings.
For this year, they revealed that more are in the pipeline — particularly finance and management classes geared to blue-collar workers and young professionals. Cara said, “It is important to have two different modules for these two groups because they naturally have different financial issues to tackle.”
They are also designing a business incubator program, through which they mentor start-up companies through coaching and resource-location assistance. “As Robert Kiyosaki coined, we want to help our fellow Cebuanos get out of the “rat race,” to live comfortable lives, which both of us also aspire for ourselves,” Dexter said.
Healthy business environment
Graduates of Ateneo de Manila University, Cara studied management in applied chemistry while Dexter pursued management information systems. Both are now active in their family’s respective businesses.
Dexter assists overseeing operations for his family’s poultry and dormitory businesses, and has recently partnered with his sister in managing a café that they plan to open in Talamban soon. He also does online stock trading and is a licensed real estate broker, though for the latter he admits he does not actively sell. “I am aware that it is not advisable to spread myself too thin,” he said, “but I consider my exposure to different industries as very good training especially since I am still young.”
Cara, on the other hand, has her hands full with her work in her family’s garments manufacturing company. “I manage human resources and finance but my parents always remind me to expose myself to other aspects — so I find myself doing everything from handling clients, checking on our production facility, managing our website, and even wrapping T-shirts,” she shared.
Setting the right mindset
It doesn’t mean though it’s all work, no play for these two youngsters. On their free time, Dexter said he enjoys watching movies and reading, playing basketball and overindulging in food. Then like many his age — meeting up with friends or going on road trips to the beach.
Meanwhile Cara, who got into running two years ago, has been participating in several half marathons around Cebu. “And just last year I got into biking,” she added. “I always joke and say that my life revolves around working and working out. During my free time I am either at the gym or running with my boyfriend, or biking with my mom, or doing workout videos with my sisters.”
An adventurous mindset in personal growth is common in today’s young generation, but what sets Cara and Dexter apart is their passion to instill that mindset in others — and, in their own words, “to create a ripple effect of good works”.
Summing it up, Dexter said, “Both of us share the idea that everyone is responsible to give back to the community so that in turn, those individuals we have been fortunate to assist, extend the same gesture to (others).”
Photos: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome | Make-up Artist: Carlo Damolo | Hair Stylist: Jerwin Bastatas
Locale: Tazza Café & Patisserie