Nene Tamayo, owner of Nene Prime Foods, smiling and flashing finger hearts over a table full of their best-selling products

Everyone’s got a dream. Some people seem to know it by the time they learn how to walk, others take longer, needing a whole lot of pep talk before it is figured out. Nene Tamayo realized hers at the age of 23.

Growing up in Sante Fe, Romblon, Nene lived a simple provincial life. A life in the countryside where everything–from rice to vegetables, fruits, poultry and livestock–are cultivated and grown in one’s backyard. This may be the reason why Nene is naturally hardworking, an important quality entrepreneurs need to succeed.

As a little girl, Nene used to sell suman or rice cake, and trade guavas she picked from the hills to earn enough money to buy nice paper for school projects. “If there’s no suman to sell, I’d pick up some stones from the river, put it in a sack, and wait for a truck to buy it. I remember, they paid me two pesos for each tin can of stones. The highest I ever earned from it was about twenty pesos and, at that time, it was more than enough for me,” she proudly recalls.

Nene Prime Foods' employees busy filling bottles with oil and chili

Fast forward to years later, Nene has kept that little girl’s entrepreneurial spirit, as she now runs her own Quezon City-based business: Nene Prime Foods. From selling suman, guavas, and stones, she now offers a variety of food products like pickled chili, eight-spiced tuyo, and bangus in olive oil to name a few–the latter being the catalyst for the business.

Nene tells the story: “I started cooking bangus in olive oil for family consumption only. It was not really intended for business. Then, I shared some to our friends, and someone asked me if I could sell it to them because they wanted it to be their Christmas giveaway and I said yes!” As the saying goes, the rest is history. It even took only a few minutes for Nene to register her business online and get the certificate, all through the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) website which is easy, hassle-free, and convenient!”

With answered prayer, Nene became a blessing to others. Through the business, she has provided livelihood for many, especially to women which comprises majority of her team. She knows very well that women are valuable assets. Their innate passion for work and attention to detail make them excellent workers. But it’s not without its challenges.

 Nene Prime Foods employees leaning over a table full of bottled olive oil, ready to pack them with bangus flakes

As a mother, Nene understands the struggle of balancing work and family life. To ease the worries of her women workers, she encourages the bringing of small kids to work where a designated play area is provided. This small gesture is a big thing for mothers. After all, “everything that a woman does, she does it with love and for the love of her family,” she adds.

When women are given support, they thrive. It’s true for Nene. And it’s even true for some of her women workers who have also started their own businesses. That’s why support from DTI was crucial in enabling Nene Prime Foods to flourish. They were given access to various training programs like Food Connect, as well as opportunities to participate in the Metro Fiesta food fair and the Philippine Halal Showcase. DTI also helped raise their product standards by making them aware of mandatory labelling requirements, basic food safety and quality control, and the documentary requirements for an FDA license to operate and product registration.

When Nene left her corporate job to realize the dream she had at age 23, she had no assurance of what lies ahead. She only had the dream in mind, the hard work and determination, and faith that God is good and He listens to prayers.

“Dreams do come true! You just have to act now,” Nene’s advice for those looking to achieve their own goals.♦

Date of Release: 7 September 2020