When we were young, our parents usually asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. While most of us choose to be a doctor, engineer, or lawyer, one girl chose a different path.

Lurie Mary Grace Fajutag, the owner of BcDc Agricultural Products in San Teodoro, Oriental Mindoro, was born into an entrepreneurial family. While self-employment seems to be the obvious choice for millennials and the GenZ age groups in the digital era, Lurie knew it’d be a difficult road to BcDc Agricultural Products’ success. Nevertheless, she plowed on.

From Backyard to Business

Calamansi is a common citrus fruit in Oriental Mindoro, where it can be commonly found growing in backyard gardens. Lurie’s family has a couple of these at home, which they use for self- consumption. This was where Lurie got the idea to utilize the ordinary citrus fruit as an extraordinary way of earning money.

Just like other success stories, BcDc follows the same plot line. Lurie started her business from the juice she made from the fruits of

their two calamansi trees. With PhP2,000 in start-up capital, Lurie registered BcDc Agricultural Products with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in 2015.

The B, C, D, and C in BcDc Agricultural Products represent banana, calamansi, dalandan, and coconut, which are the ingredients Lurie uses in her products. The calamansi concentrate is their primary product, popularly known as Honey Man-C. From harvest to bottle, the calamansi contrate processing was done manually by members of the family.

It wasn’t a prosperous business at the onset. It wasn’t until a year later, when she was invited to exhibit her product at a local trade show in San Teodoro, that things started to make an upward turn.

They prepared one box of calamansi concentrate bottles for the event, and they were sold out in a matter of minutes! They even received positive feedback, inquiries for bulk orders, and questions on how to resell. This was the beginning of their business expansion.

As their company grew and her products became more in demand,

Lurie’s family decided to convert their old piggery building into a tiny processing plant. This was where the other BcDc products, such as raw wild honey, calamansi puree, Chilli Man-C, Ready-to- drink Honey Man-C, ginger powder, and turmeric powder, were prepared.

Lurie also started employing people from outside the family. To date, the business has 11 workers, most of whom come from Mangyan communities.

Aside from the jobs her business provided, BcDC was also able to help calamansi farmers by being a sure buyer.

Maraming farmers dito ang dumadaing dahil sa mga calamansi nila na nabubulok at tinatapon na lamang,” said Lurie. (“Many farmers here complain that their calamansi fruits end up rotting and getting thrown away,” said Lurie.)

With BcDc around, these farmers have found a sure buyer for their harvest.

How the DTI Sweetened BcDc’s Success

Lurie credits the DTI’s Kapatid Mentor ME Program for her company’s continued success. In 10 weeks, the mentors in the program taught her how to develop and expand her business with product development and innovation, advanced marketing, and overall operations management.

According to Lurie, she learned that it is not enough to have a capital investment. You need to know every aspect of the business, from production to marketing. You also need to know how to talk to your workers and customers.

She found that exposing your products to the market is essential, so she was frequently seen as an exhibitor at the MIMAROPA Naturally Agri-Trade and Tourism Fair.

Furthermore, Lurie sought DTI MIMAROPA’s help to acquire barcodes, nutritional data, and other laboratory tests. Due to these efforts, the business obtained a License To Operate (LTO) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Currently, Lurie is working on obtaining a Certificate of Product Registration (CPR) from the FDA to guarantee that her products are of high quality and safe to consume.

Ripe Opportunities During the Pandemic

While most of the businesses in the country nosedived during the pandemic, BcDc’s fortunes improved. This is because all of BcDc’s calamansi products are considered essential, and therefore, could be sold through a special permit by the IATF.

But the surge in demand also meant an increase in the need for production. One of their main concern is that the community quarantines made it difficult to acquire packaging materials from Metro Manila.

They had to look for alternative packaging resources available within the vicinity and found nito baskets and bags, which were weaved by members of the Mangyan communities. Thinking that they also had to do their part in helping their Mangyan workers earn more, BcDc also sold these items through their online channels.

To top it off, they gave back to their employees by providing them with groceries to help them get through the pandemic.

Sa pag nenegosyo kailangan mo talagang mangarap, maniwala at magsikap. Wag mong hahayaan na ang pangarapmo ay hanggang pangarap nalang, maniwala kalang at pag sikapan mo itong makamtan.”

Towards a Fruitful Future

As the country slowly adapts to the new normal, Lurie is still finding ways to sustain the business. She has now expanded to online platforms; hence customers from other parts of the country can buy BcDc products through Lazada, Shopee, Instagram, and Facebook.

The young lady boss behind BcDc Agricultural Products embodies a go-getter spirit that entrepreneurs should look up to. Clearly, there is no stopping Lurie Mary Grace Fajutag from achieving her dreams for herself, her family, and the community. ♦