Experience, hard work, and perseverance rolled into one — these are the secret recipe of Ms. Annie Montefalcon, owner of ANNIE – NESTOR FOOD PRODUCTS from Nagcarlan, Laguna.

As a child, she had been exposed to doing household chores and tasted the bitter part of life full of challenges which made her the person she now is. Looking back at her previous state, she was motivated to commit herself to her passion, a passion that sprung from her dream that someday she could go to school and provide a comfortable life for her ten other siblings and beloved parents. She had been a factory worker, a household maid, and an espasol street vendor. Many people have mocked and looked down on them but that did not hinder her from aspiring to change her fate.

It was in 2004 when she decided to start her own business now known as Annie’s Espasol. She sought help from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) – Laguna Provincial Office in improving her product. Then, she became one of the micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs) who have availed the services of CESO-SACO tied up with DTI.

The Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO) has been mentoring MSMEs under the DTI through its volunteer mentors. Having a mission to fulfil which is “enabling businesses to grow”, it had been dubbed both as a motto and a battle cry of DTI-Laguna to continuously assist mentors and create a link among professionals who are capable to address the growing needs of their clients.

She focused her business in making and selling her specialty product. Espasol, a native rice cake product of the Philippines cooked in coconut milk and sweetened coconut, dusted with toasted rice flour, is considered to be a delicacy in the province of Laguna. Her espasol is hailed as the best espasol in town and has created a strong relationship with her customers. It is unquestionable that her espasol is sought by locals and tourists alike.

Despite the consistent bulk orders from various customers, she was fully indebted to CESO Volunteer Advisers Douglas Johnson who worked with her in closely monitoring the cash flow using a spreadsheet software system. This helped her keep track of her business which eventually led to discovering that she had been losing roughly Php3,000,000.00 in a span of six months.

Annie’s Espasol is a living testament to CESO’s important role in the development of small business enterprises that may be having hidden problems in their operation needing proper coaching and solution. In addition to this, she is a manifestation that seeking assistance from the government may lead you or link you to right places and right people.

Ms. Annie said, “if it weren’t for CESO’s VA Douglas, I wouldn’t be here, my business would not flourish, and I will still be in debt.” Aside from the assistance she received from DTI thru CESO-SACO, Ms. Annie participated in various marketing activities organized and facilitated by DTI-Laguna and constantly expanding her market reach thru trade exhibitors locally and outside the province of Laguna. Little did she know that, in these trade fairs, the clients were patiently waiting for the taste of her Espasol and this warm anticipation became one of her motivations to produce same quality of Espasol as always. ♦

Date of Release: 23 June 2023