Harleen Jao graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering from De La Salle University. After her studies, she went back home to the Cacao Capital of the Philippines, Davao City. Harleen wanted to use learned techniques and processes to develop a product and help her family’s business.
To begin with, Harleen already had a passion for Davao’s cacao, but she wanted to try her own hand at the product and prove that there’s more to it than just being a local delicacy. In her research, she met a few government workers, other cacao enthusiasts, and some non-government organizations (NGOs) that inspired her business idea.
Harleen thought of using a name that implies richness in nutrients. With P2M in her pocket, she ventured into the chocolate manufacturing business.
Now, Nutrarich Nutraceutical Innovations offers different chocolate products, from very versatile fine tablea to Davao cacao nibs.
In starting her business, Harleen cites that she faced challenges similar to other micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) — setting up the business, marketing the products, and finding the best partners to meet consumer demands.
However, she mentions that as a woman, flexibility has played a big part in influencing her management and customer service style saying, “being a woman, [you have] a more delicate touch to dealing with the workforce and talking to customers.”
Presently, Nutrarich has 10 workers, six of whom are females.
Through it all, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has been a big help to Harleen with the trade fairs as well as the seminars of the Food and Drug Administration. A recent project, DTI’s Rural Agro-Enterprise Partnership and Inclusive Development (RAPID) Project, also provided the necessary support for Nutrarich to grow. “These were essential support in helping me complete business documents and requirements to become a legitimate manufacturer.”
DTI also provided support by sponsoring Nutrarich’s milk chocolate packaging namely the durian and mango milk chocolates.
With 10 tons of annual production of cacao in their farm as raw materials, Nutrarich offers to the market its brand of Davao Fine Tablea, Durian Chocolates, Mango Chocolates, Chocolate Couvertures, Chocolate Spreads.
From selling at trade fairs and bazaars, Nutrarich Davao Fine Tablea is now available in almost all supermarkets nationwide. They have attended various DTI National Trade Fairs and DTI’s Center for International Trade and Exposition and Mission’s (CITEM) International Food Expo; overseas they also participated in Salon International de l’alimentation (SIAL) and China ASEAN Expo in 2017, and Salon Du Chocolat Paris in 2019.
Online, these products are marketed on Nutrarich’s Facebook page.
“My enterprise has helped the cacao stakeholders have a proof of concept that Philippine cacao can be turned into valuable products.”
Harleen plans to increase production so she can sell nationwide.
She is mindful of the hurdles ahead. “Research and development is expensive and takes time…. the documentary requirements of setting up and maintaining a business is a real challenge especially for SME since expenses take up a big cost in the business.”
Harleen wants to remind aspiring women entrepreneurs, “Being an entrepreneur is a road with a lot of challenges, and only resilience and passion to never give up will bring true success.”♦
Date of Release: 10 December 2020