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“Start small, think big. Don’t worry about too many things at once. Take a handful of simple things to begin with, and then progress to more complex ones. Think about not just tomorrow, but the future. Put a ding in the universe.” – Steve Jobs

This quote mirrors the entrepreneurial journey of the 39-year-old Luisito “Bong” A. Latade. A few years ago, Sir Bong simply wanted to make ends meet so he and his wife occupied two stalls at the San Pablo City Public Market. He had a mini grocery while his wife managed a fish stall. However, their combined sales is not enough for a family of three. Hence, her wife took a chance abroad while he managed their stalls. Sir Bong tried his best but it came to a point when it was too difficult for him to manage both stalls and take care of their child simultaneously. Later on, he decided to sell both stalls and look for a stable job.

Sir Bong and his wife continuously worked hard but after almost four (4) years of working, their efforts were still not enough to support the growing needs of their family. He started thinking if it was wrong of him to sell their stalls. Then, after a serious conversation with one of his friends, he realized that he wanted to try his luck again in business. However, he has two main concerns: 1) what kind of business is he going to pursue, and 2) how is he going to market his business if he does not have his own space.

In March 2019, Sir Bong decided to pursue something he is already familiar with; his grandmother taught him in the past how to make binayong hipon sohe focused on this product alone. With a small capital of P1,000.00, he started producing 30 bottles of binayong hipon and used social media platforms such as Facebook to reach out to his market, particularly to those whom he already knew way back when he was still a vendor at San Pablo City Public Market.

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With quality raw materials from Bae, Laguna (shrimp) and San Pablo City, Laguna (coconut milk), Sir Bong produced delicious products and established his market presence thru online resellers. For months, he was satisfied with his revenue until he was invited in September 2019 by his relative to attend a seminar organized by the Negosyo Center San Pablo City. The seminar was entitled “Entrepreneurial Mindsetting and Starting a Business” wherein he was encouraged to make his business official by doing necessary registrations and securing permits. The event pushed him to dream big. By October 2019, Bong’s Food Products Manufacturing was established.

Noong una, hindi ko iniisip yang mga registration na yan kasi dagdag gastos pa eh. Ang importante sa akin ay yung kumita ako dahil yun ang kailangan ng pamilya ko. Pero pagkatapos kong umattend ng seminar, nakumbinsi akong mangarap ng mas malaki para sa negosyo ko.”

Just like any other businesses, Sir Bong faced challenges in terms of capital, equipment, and manpower, especially when the number of orders goes beyond his capacity. However, such issues did not hinder him in improving his business and its production. This is evident as he became committed in attending several activities organized by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) – Laguna such as “Seminar on Food Safety Management” (October 2019) and “Kapatid Mentor ME Screening & Assessment” (December 2019).

“Marami pa akong gustong malaman tungkol sa pagnenegosyo kaya ginagawan ko ng paraan na makapunta kapag may mga pa-seminar ang DTI. Sa tuwing umaattend ako, nararamdaman ko na mayroon akong kakampi. ‘Yung may sumusuporta sa akin na ituloy itong maliit na nasimulan ko. Lumalakas ang loob ko na sumubok ng mga bagong bagay tungkol sa pagnenegosyo.”

In January 2020, Bong’s Food Products Manufacturing showcased his products on Unang Hirit. The morning television newscast show featured the San Pablo City Coco Festival 2020. Fortunately, Sir Bong was invited by the Office of the City Tourism of the City Government of San Pablo to join the segment as one of the coconut or coconut-by-product food exhibitors.

With his experiences so far, he is looking forward to a brighter future. With the assistance of DTI, he is now more determined to expand his business and innovate his products.

“Alam kong darating ang panahon na ang isang maliit na negosyanteng tulad ko ay makakasama sa mga DTI-organized trade fairs and food exhibitions. Kailangan ko lang magtiwala, magtiyaga, at wag sumuko.”

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Date of Release: 1 April 2020