He started with little knowledge of running a business, but Ricardo Tolentino capitalized on his determination to earn the name ‘Mango King’ of Ilocos Norte.

Ricardo recalled that his interest in putting up a business started when he met a Chinese businessman in Metro Manila. The businessman asked him if he knew someone who could deliver mangoes for export. Ricardo felt excited and made a commitment to the businessman as his uncle was running a huge mango plantation in Laoag.

Freshly picked green mangoes that Mango King uses for their products

Mango King employee peeling the mangoes

While he almost had no knowledge of operating a business, Ricardo made a business proposal to the Chinese businessman. He made an agreement with the businessman after realizing the opportunity to venture into something profitable. He then informed his uncle who owns a truck and worked on the arrangements for the transport. He and his uncles was already looking forward to the big profit earnings.

Ricardo’s perseverance was put into test when they did not make it on time of the agreed delivery time—the truck had an engine trouble and one of its tires ran flat. The truckload of mangoes was rejected for failure to deliver on the agreed time. He felt hopeless, and he did not know how to pay his uncle and the truck driver.

“My first try was a failure, I thought it was the last, but I realized it was indeed the beginning of entrepreneurship,” said Ricardo.

Peeled mangoes, ready for processing

Rising up again

Despite the bad experience, Ricardo decided to still venture into a mango business. He observed that there was an oversupply of mangoes and influx of tourists in Laoag City, so he thought of producing dried and wine mango products. He formally set up his own business and called it Mango King Food Products.

He sought the assistance of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). He acquired the technical know-how of processing mangoes from DOST, while he got the business management skills from the programs of DTI.

Ricardo attended the trainings and seminars organized by DTI, which included the Kapatid Mentor ME (KMME) Program that exposed him to the good practices of running a successful enterprise. He was also among the grantees of the Shared Service Facilities (SSF) program of DTI, which provided the needed equipment to process mangoes. Ricardo was also invited to several trade fairs as well to introduce his products to potential buyers.

Dried mangoes, ready for packaging

Mango King employee packing the dried mangoes

Mango King of Ilocos Norte Ricardo Tolentino shows off his productsRicardo sources mangoes from his own plantations, but since the demand is high, he gets supplies from nearby provinces such as Kalinga, Apayao, Cagayan, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra, La Union, and Pangasinan. This is also Ricardo’s means of extending help to small-holder farmers.

Ricardo shared that they use native (Carabao) mangoes in producing dried mangoes.
The long dry season in their province produces quality mangoes, it maintains the freshness of the mango and its distinct aroma.

Moreover, the dried mango and wine products also boast of vitamins and nutrients. Both are rich in A and B-complex vitamin, fiber, and antioxidants.

The growth of Mango King seems unstoppable as it has already reached the Visayas and Mindanao regions. Mango King does not just cater to individual buyers and small business owners, they have also collaborations with big companies in Metro Manila which order dried mangoes in bulk.

Always open for improvementsMango wine and dried mango, some of the most popular products of Mango King

Mango King is committed to maintaining the quality of its products. Ricardo shared that they also make sure that orders are delivered on time and cleanliness is observed at the production area. He added that they are always open to comments and suggestions from their clients.

The enterprise managed to introduce a remarkable brand in the local market because of its commitment to high quality and good relationship with clients. Ricardo shared that studies and research are now underway to venture in exporting products in the future.

Given their current status, Ricardo is positive that his business will be bigger. He is also confident that supply will never be a problem, and that with their expansion plans they will be able to keep up with the increasing demand.

Asked on his message to budding entrepreneurs, he said: “It’s just in the beginning that the hardship is hard to overcome.”