What does it take to succeed in business? Ask MELTS Bakeshop, and they will tell you that it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and, most importantly, a burning passion to succeed.

This micro-enterprise started out as a small-scale cassava cake business in the SOCCSARGEN Region but quickly won the palate of the masses and gained the attention of the local business circle. It has also received recognitions from both the government and charitable institutions, proving it has made an impact not only

on the local economy but also on other stakeholders, especially consumers and the community.

From a Kitchen-Based Business to a Thriving Enterprise

It was in the year 2019 when Southern Mindanao experienced a controversial financial crisis brought about by large-scale spurious investment schemes. Lennard Jan Ponce, the man behind MELTS, was among the victims.

Lennard was not one to be put down. Remembering the request of a former colleague to bake him a cassava cake, he decided to give it a try. With no prior experience in the food industry and only PhP3,500 in his pocket, he started his business.

He began by baking cassava cakes in his own kitchen and selling them online via social media. As word of mouth about the deliciousness of his products spread, he soon had more customers than he could handle on his own. With just one high-quality product, Lennard’s success became exponential!

Soon enough, he had to hire more staff, open up a physical store, and increase production to meet the demands of his rapidly growing customer base. Currently, MELTS has a core team of 29 employees.

It was not easy at first, but they were determined to succeed.

And succeed, they did! Today, MELTS is one of the most popular bakeries in the region, with a wide array of delicious products that have won the hearts of consumers.

Government Support Through the DTI

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has been a big help to MELTS Bakeshop, providing them with training and access to resources that have allowed the company to improve its operations.

In its first three months alone, the business was noticed and invited to be a part of the One Town, One Product (OTOP) Program of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The micro-enterprise also took part in the Kapatid Mentor ME (KMME) Program, which helped MELTS reach other regions in Mindanao and the rest of the country.

Two MELTS Production Plants are currently in construction—the Southern Mindanao Production Plant in South Cotabato and the Northern Mindanao Production Plant in Cagayan de Oro City.

With 18 MELTS outlets in operation, the company hopes to open more stores in the different strategic areas of the Philippines.

These accomplishments are a testament to MELTS’ dedication to quality and safety, as well as their commitment to providing only the best products and services to their customers.

Spearheading Economic Development in the Area

When Lennard first started his business, he never anticipated the overwhelming demand for his product. There were times when he was running out of cassava, his primary raw material. In order to keep up with demand, he encouraged farmers in the community to plant more cassava.

Before MELTS, the cassava farmers in their community were barely scraping by. They had to sell their crops for next to nothing— somewhere from 50 centavos to PhP3 per kilo. But everything changed when MELTS came along. Suddenly, there was a demand for their crops and they could sell them for a fair price of PhP13 to PhP16 per kilo. This allowed them to focus on growing even more cassava, which in turn led to even more opportunities for business and employment in their town.

Lennard’s partnership with the farmers was beneficial for both parties; the farmers were able to buy their own land and MELTS had a reliable source of cassava.

But the company didn’t stop there; it also created employment opportunities by tapping into the local market for eggs, sugar, and other raw materials. As a result, MELTS is not only changing the

way we think about cassava cakes, but it is also spearheading a new era of economic development in their community.

MELTS Bakeshop Gives Back to Its Employees and the Community

MELTS is not only about making delicious cassava cakes; it is also about giving back to the community and its employees which helped the company thrive.

Since MELTS prioritizes the welfare of its employees, it gives its staff benefits like free stay-in accommodation, free meals, health insurance, and cash incentives when they hit the daily sales quota.

Right now, the company is finding new ways to sweeten the deal for those who resell its products. Trusted resellers who don’t have enough capital are provided with free daily delivery services, helping them earn additional income. This is just one of the many promotions that the company has launched to aid low-income individuals who are willing to sell MELTS Bakeshop’s products. The company has also donated relief goods and water containers to a tribal community of more than 100 families in South Cotabato to help address the issue of potable water.

“MELTS is not only about making delicious cassava cakes; it is also about giving back to the community and its employees which helped the company thrive.”

Success Amidst the Pandemic

MELTS Bakeshop has been a pillar of strength for its employees and the community during the pandemic. When other businesses were forced to shut down, MELTS kept its doors open and continued to serve its customers.

The company went above and beyond to help its employees, giving them their 13th-month pay in advance and providing food supplies to those who were heavily affected by the lockdown. MELTS

also donated food packs and multivitamins to the community, particularly the frontliners. Their employees even participated in the company’s community outreach efforts by donating a portion of their salaries. From humble beginnings, MELTS has become a thriving business that is making a positive impact on its community. It is an inspiring example of what can be achieved when passion and determination are combined with talent and hard work. ♦