From a Hobby to Income

“Tumaliawak, saba, Tumalikodak, saba”.

Growing up in a community with abundant supply of bananas inspired Amalla Littawa Follo to make bananas as her source of living. A native of Cagayan and Kalinga who is currently residing in Caglayan, Conner, Apayao, “sabah” changed the life story of this entrepreneur.

Growing up, Amalia was very well informed of the many food products that she can create with bananas. With the oversupply in their town, she witnessed how the remaining produce were destroyed and fed to barn animals instead.

One day, Amalia had an encounter with a banana chips processor from Karikitan, a barangay near her place. She was fascinated with the product and was challenged to try it herself. She conducted many trials to come up with a tasty bag of banana chips that will fit the taste of her possible buyers. With all her effort and perseverance, she then succeeded and created her style of cooking banana chips ready for consumption. Amalia started her business with only Php 2,000.00 in hand, this was used to buy a peeler and some ice bags. After preparing the ingredients, she packs them in a plastic bag sealed through the heat of a lit candle. The entire process of cooking to packaging were all done by her and all were done using simple household items available for use.

From a Hobby to Income

Five months after selling her first bag of banana chips, Amalia’s business struggled to produce any remarkable income. She had to look for remedies to reach a bigger market.

As she continued with her business, she learned that majority of buyers were kids playing on weekends. With this, she brought her products to the students of Ripang Elementary School;. The banana chips made its way to school canteens, proving her strategy as a success.

Students loved her banana chips as it is cheap and organic. As the demand increased, the pressure to improve her equipment to meet the demand also grew. Slowly, the one-woman food production no longer relied on wood coals and outdated cooking equipment.

Hungry for improvement, Amalia visited the Negosyo Center of Conner, Apayao for business counseling. Her visit paved the way for her participation in different activities and trainings. She was a mentee under the Kapatid Mentor Me (KMME) program that capacitates small businesses of business improvement plans. Her products were also regularly featured during the  IMPAKABSAT trade fairs. Ms. Amalia Follo was blessed with one daughter who is now taking up Fashion and Design Course at Stuttgart, Germany. With her business, she was able to renovate their family house and visit different places across the world. Indeed, Amalia may have not finished her studies, but regardless of such, she became a well-known entrepreneur in the world of food processing.

At present, she has been investing some of her savings to various products. She was able to expand her menu with more products including Chili Paste, Mulberry Wine, Pulvoron, Banana Wine, Banana Chips, Taro Chips, turmeric, honey and Cow Milk Candy. Amalia also serves as a trainer for her fellow entrepreneurs during capacity building activities conducted by different agencies. Food processing is a line business that is far from easy. Her advise to her fellow entrepreneur is “ not rush things. Putting up a business is not something that could be done overnight. It requires lot of efforts, knowledge on the industry, and a lot of good people to support you all the way”.

Indeed, life can make you bananas as they often say. But sometimes you just have to turn it to something else, maybe something more profitable and life changing.  

Date of Release: 4 November 2022