In Photo: KGG Online Services Key People

As the saying goes, “You’ll never know if you will not try”. Ms. Lhorie Ramilo-Manas took courage to leave her day job to venture in a business that has changed her life and sustained her family even during the pandemic. Lhorie started out as an agent in the BPO Industry and she worked there for 12 years to support the needs of her family. The home-based setup or what is commonly known as “work from home” setup was introduced to her by a friend and she took it up as a sideline to sustain the needs of her three children as she was a single parent back then.

Amidst the struggles, Lhorie also explored options abroad and worked in different industries in Singapore and Jakarta. When she came back to the Philippines, she still chose to work in the BPO Industry until a big break was offered to her as a freelance customer specialist. This opportunity allowed her to experience flexible time with the ultimate perk, working at home as she supported and guided her children. Lhorie did not stop there. She wanted to share her experience to other people and help boost employment in their local community. This led to the conceptualization and establishment of KGG Online Services, a business entity that provides employment opportunities thru recruitment and headhunting processes. At first, they catered to the local BPO companies and soon, they were invited to take part in several job fairs and landed successful matchings and hiring.

When the pandemic hit, they were badly affected too. However, they still have employees that need to be compensated and are experiencing financial struggles due to the effect of the pandemic. This motivated Lhorie to expand KGG’s horizon and look for international clients that are looking for a whole workforce with remote operations. By engaging in online conferences, KGG Online Services was able to close deals with clients and companies internationally. Gradually, KGG Online Services was able to continuously provide employment to working students and individuals who were struggling to get employed due to lack of experience.

Last 2021, Lhorie decided to join the Boosting Innovation and Technology Startups (#BITS) Program, a pioneer program of the Department of Trade and Industry – Laguna Provincial Office (DTI Laguna) that focuses on innovation and digitalization of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as a response to the growing need for digitalization and in preparation for Industry 4.0. She attended the online modules that focused on innovation and digitalization, topics that are most helpful to MSMEs as they navigate in the new normal and digitalization era. Lhorie was also guided by coaches from National University Laguna, one of DTI Laguna’s partners in the #BITS Program, in creating her own Business Innovative Plan. She then presented this plan to a panel of judges which was composed of government officials, financial institutions, angelpreneurs, and investors. Lhorie belonged to the successful batch that was able to gather up to Php10 million in investments and offers from their panelists. Their batch was also recognized during the Integrated Sustainable Assistance, Recovery, and Advancement Program (ISARAP) Caravan held last April 2021 in Santa Rosa City, Laguna, and former DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez awarded their certificates.

Through the initiative and support of DTI Laguna, Lhorie was also able to take part in Project Match and Certified Digital Negosyo Program of StartUp Village. With these online programs, Lhorie learned more about improving her business’ digital presence, taking advantage of different online platforms, and she was matched to other digital services providers. She also learned strategies on how to make KGG Online stand out with other emerging companies that offer the same services.

Lhorie always believed that one should never settle for what you have when you feel like you can do more than that. With that principle in mind, she also joined the 2022 Kapatid Mentor Me – Money Market Encounter (KMME-MME) Online Program for the Multisectoral Batch. It was thru KMME that she learned that you can always consider other ways and that there is no shame in picking the minds of the experts to improve your business. She also had a better understanding on how to operate her business more effectively and on how to comply with the legalities. In the process of making her Business Improvement Plan, a requirement for graduation in KMME, she was able to explore and identify areas of improvement in her business model that can help her sustain her business.

With her growing business, Lhorie was also able to accommodate students from a local state college and train them as part of their On-the-Job Training. It has also been her advocacy to help students who cannot afford to go to school because of the effect of the pandemic to help them gain the experience needed to apply for freelance jobs or employment in private companies. According to her, it has been the highlight of their business as they were able to provide jobs to many affected individuals in their community. Now that everyone has also discovered the flexibility and convenience of freelancing and work-from-home setup because of the pandemic, Lhorie is using the strategies and mindset that she mastered to keep ahead of the fast-paced world of freelancing.

Eventually, Lhorie and her husband Marc Manas, finally saw more of their vision and dreams come to life. They opened Café de Tréz Marias last April 2023, a café and co-working space that allows students, freelancers, businesspersons, and other professionals to have an ideal space to work and study with a relaxing ambiance. It also thru this new business venture that Lhorie was able to partner with her KMME batchmates, who became suppliers in her café. She hopes that this new venture will thrive and will eventually be passed on to her children with the security of an income-generating business.

When asked about her advice to aspiring and budding MSMEs, Lhorie shared that one’s definition of success should not be limited by a diploma or the name of the school where you came from or a specific set of skills and forte. According to her, success will only depend on one’s self, perspective, and perseverance. She also said that an entrepreneur must be optimistic and bold and should never be intimidated or scared to try everything that is on the table. They should never be limited since the opportunities in the world of business are countless. You just need to keep looking, keep learning, and keep living for your goals and dreams — gradually, eventually, faithfully.

Looking for a co-working space with a relaxing ambiance and good food? Visit Café de Tréz Marias at Purok 4, Brgy. Siranglupa, Calamba City, Laguna. ♦

Date of release: 3 January 2024