“Innovation is always the name of the game.” – Ellen Muros
Behind every success is a story of hardship, mishap, and determination. Ellen Muros, just like the other flourishing entrepreneurs, started her peanut butter business from small capitalization and extraordinary optimism.
Hailed from the island of Odiongan in the province of Romblon where peanuts abundantly grow, Ellen jumped into the peanut butter bandwagon when her direct selling business failed. Leaving her with large amount of money to pay for, her husband, Robert, prodded her to join the 7 Isles Progressive Entrepreneurs Multi-Purpose Cooperative (PEMPC) a cooperative established through the help of Department of Trade and Industry – Romblon Provincial Office to assist the budding micro entrepreneurs of Odiongan in product development and marketing.
Ellen used the opportunity that the cooperative offered in providing raw materials in making peanut butter including the packaging materials. She also used the product labels that the cooperative provided at a minimal cost. While the rest of the cooperative members were hesitant to use the product labels due to fear of additional cost in making the peanut butter, it did not stop Ellen from improving her product.
Her first big break was when the wife of former Romblon Congressman Eduardo Firmalo bought peanut butter from her and gave them as gifts to friends and colleagues. Due to positive feedbacks and word-of-mouth, her peanut butter spreads throughout the town like a wildfire gaining her bulk orders from curious buyers. True enough, the creamy texture and luscious taste of Ellen’s peanut butter won the hearts of many Romblomanons.
Ellen admitted that delving in this kind of business was never easy but one should always look to the brighter side, “Ilang beses yung trial and error stage nito. Kapag binibigyan ko ng sample ang kapitbahay namin tapos tatanungin ko kung masarap ba, sasabihin nila oo, minsan hindi ako satisfied kasi baka ayaw lang nilang saktan feelings ko so nag-strive talaga ko na makuha yung perfect na peanut butter. (This peanut butter went through several trial and error stage. I gave out samples to my neighbors and whenever I ask them if it is delicious they would answer yes but I’m not satisfied because I thought they didn’t want to hurt my feelings. So, I strive harder to achieve the perfect recipe for my peanut butter.)”
Seeing that her product could compete with other bigger brands in Metro Manila, she sought the assistance of the Department of Trade and Industry – Romblon Provincial Office in 2006. She was then tapped as one of the beneficiaries of the One Town One Product (OTOP) Program.
During this period, Ellen established her own business apart from the cooperative’s activities. However, she still paid tribute to most of the members of the cooperative who are mostly mother, hence she called her product Mama’s Yami Deli Foods. Yami was used to attribute to the yummy taste of the peanut butter and Deli short for delight.
Her initial capital came from the loans that her husband sought from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). Also, the DTI-Romblon Provincial Office under the leadership of then Provincial Caretaker and now Assistant Regional Director Rodolfo J. Mariposque introduced her to DTI assistance on production, market promotion and product development. With these, she was given different inputs on how she can make the peanut butter able to enter the mainstream of the market.
Since there is a close relationship between DTI and other national agencies, DTI endorsed Mama’s Yami Deli Foods to Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to avail the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SET-UP) and availed the provision for machineries and other equipment for the peanut butter production.
Due to numerous demands, from backyard cooking Mama’s YamiDeli Foods transferred to a bigger and wider place that broadens the production with four employees. Now, they distribute not only in Romblon but also in the provinces of Marinduque, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro and Metro Manila.
When asked for her formula of success, Ellen simply says “innovation is the name of the game.” Mamasyami Deli Foods always checks the market segment before embarking on new products.
Presently, Mamasyami Deli Foods is an active participant of Trade Fairs and still a recipient of the Product Development. They were able to produce new varieties of peanut butter like plain, crunchy, double zero (no sugar, no salt), 100% Coco Sugar, choco-peanut. Also, new product lines were introduced such as Salamagi Paste (pure Sampaloc paste), sweetened Banana balls, and turmeric powder.
Indeed, Ellen has embarked on the secret of success by getting ready when the earliest opportunity comes.