Krizzel Marie V. Mendoza, DTI Negosyo Center Puerto Galera Coordinator, and Sharon Q. Abon, owner of CnelleJ Souvenir Shop.
Krizzel Marie V. Mendoza, DTI Negosyo Center Puerto Galera Coordinator, and Sharon Q. Abon, owner of CnelleJ Souvenir Shop.

Mindoro, a culture-rich island located off the southwestern coast of Luzon, is the home of many native groups and communities. CnelleJ Souvenir Shop, a Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) assisted enterprise from Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, has found a way to marry culture and entrepreneurship in the province.

Ms. Sharon Abdon, the owner of CnelleJ Souvenir Shop, a store selling novelty items and souvenirs, shared how DTI-MIMAROPA helped her reach out to the indigenous peoples (IPs) by providing them livelihood opportunities.

What started in 2016 as a humble shop with intermittent sales, CnelleJ has grown from having an annual gross sale of P10,000 to P165,000 in 2019, with the aid of DTI’s programs, projects, and services. Furthermore, the shop was able to acquire two (2) permanent employees, and 90 part-time employees. These 90 part-time employees are composed of IPs from the community. CnelleJ believes that aside from giving these IPs an additional source of income, their crafts are kept alive as well.

Their products include fruit trays and dish, jars, jewelry box, coasters, placemats, bags, keychains, refrigerator magnets, glass holders, oil diffusers, among others. The majority of their products are made of nito, a forest vine native in their province. The assisted indigenous groups are known for their nito-weaving skill, a unique traditional art for Iraya-Mangyans.

With the help of DTI, their products have undergone marketing and product development. CnelleJ has been a mainstay in DTI’s MIMAROPA Naturally: Agri-Trade and Tourism Fair (MNATTF), and National Trade Fair. Likewise, they have acquired labeling, logo, and mentoring assistance from the Department. Additional interventions include their participation in the “Regional Integrated Product Development Assistance Program” or RIPDA Program, One Town One Product (OTOP) Program’s Virtual Expo and OTOP SPARK (Special Program for Acceleration and Recovery of Kababayans) SPARKS Session, and the Kapatid Mentor ME (KMME) Program. All these programs enabled CnelleJ to innovate and produce market-ready products and services.

Moreover, Ms. Abdon has also attended several trainings initiated by DTI, such as Business Planning and Business Policy for MSMEs, Product Critiquing and Development, Computer Literacy for Businesses, and Marketing Management, among others. Furthermore, as part of DTI-MIMAROPA’s commitment towards digitalizing MSMEs in the region, CnelleJ was also invited to join the E-Commerce and FinTech Bootcamp for MSMEs. These interventions also played a huge factor in equipping their business against the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Looking forward, they envision to have their own nito vines plantation/farm to support their production and employ and assist more IPs in the area. CnelleJ’s business strategy is anchored by the deep-rooted values system of the indigenous groups in the province. CnelleJ Souvenir Shop, with the guidance of DTI-MIMAROPA, hopes to contribute to the economic development in a traditional environment. This assures the preservation of culture and heritage by providing the IPs the progress they envision for themselves.♦

Date of Release: 30 October 2020