When you think about business, the first thing that comes to mind is the product or profit – what to sell and how to earn. However, the most crucial element overlooked is people. People can exist without a business, but a business cannot run without people.
This is what Elenita Velasquez knew early on, even before starting what is now LenNie V Food Product, a Bulacan-based cornick business.
Their product cornick is a local snack favorite made of crunchy puffed corn nuts. The snack is made of glutinous corn which is either salty or garlic-flavored. However, it can also come in a variety of other flavors.
The first word in the business name “LenNie” is a contraction of the names Elenita and husband Ernie who are the co-owners of the business.
The husband and wife team of Ernie and Elenita met in a less auspicious circumstance.
The death of Elenita’s father, while she was in high school, drove the family to relocate to Bulacan, their home province. It also forced her mother to go to the United States to work and Elenita to stop schooling and take care of her siblings.
It was in Bulacan, however, where she met her husband Ernie, and things started to look brighter.
Ernie was not a newcomer in the corn business. Ernie and his brother, together with Elenita, sourced raw corn kernels from various farmers in Luzon which they in turn supply to big snack companies all over the country. For a time, this venture was viable. The business also enabled Elenita to go back to school and finish college.
Unfortunately, their clients opted to buy directly from farmers which resulted in the closure of their business. Elenita and Ernie then faced their biggest challenge in finding a new income stream.
If they cannot be suppliers, Elenita and Ernie would just have to join the food processing business.
Elenita started to make her own cornick, which at first was market-tested to gatherings and as pasalubong for their overseas Filipino worker friends. It was a hit, and friends urged Elenita to market their products. From small orders within her network, the brand popularity spread by word of mouth. After a few improvements, LenNie V Food Product grew and is now available at pasalubong centers in Bulacan and through local resellers.
The knowledge in entrepreneurship that Elenita acquired from the business mentorship project of the Department of Trade and Industry’s Kapatid Mentor (KMME) program was of great help. She was able to widen her connections through regional trade fairs and also gain friends who contributed to her business success.
Elenita had a difficult past, but that never stopped her from having a successful future. “It’s all about having a strong sense of self-belief that you can achieve your dreams,” she says. Now, Elenita gives back by employing women around her area, because she believes women deserve the opportunity to improve their families. “It is much easier [for them] to establish relationships with potential suppliers and customers,” she says.
After all, relationships are what helped Elenita overcome her challenges. Her relationship with her devoted husband, selfless mother, and supportive friends, all played a vital role in building her business.
Success stories celebrate only the victor who perseveres. LenNie V Food Product was the result of a team effort. Elenita believes that dreams are achieved when you “surround yourself with people who uplift and support you through all the ups and downs.”
When it comes to business, people come first.♦
Date of Release: 21 September 2020