Who would have thought that P1,500 would eventually turn into a million after less than 10 years? With hard work, innovation, and technology intervention, Belen’s Pinahamis did it, as Maria Judtih L. Sablan relates in this story.

Million-peso Pili 1

Philippines’s Region V or Bicol region is surely famous for its majestic Mayon volcano and spicy dishes such as Bicol express or laing. However, one more thing that makes the region special is the pili nut. Pili is a nut derived from pili tree, scientifically known as Canarium ovatum, that normally thrives in the Bicol region. Delicacies made from pili are best as pasalubong or souvenirs.

In the island province of Catanduanes, particularly in Brgy Sto. Nino in Virac, one of the successful pili businesses is Belen’s Pinahamis na Pili Atbp. Pinahamis in Bicolano means “sweetened” and, following the development of the company, Belen’s story is indeed a sweet success.

Starting small
With a capital of only P1,500, Ms. Bonifacio ventured into making sweetened pili and other delicacies in 2003. After almost seven years as a micro-enterprise in the food processing industry, Ms. Bonifacio heard of DOST’s program and sought help for her business. She applied for DOST SETUP and went through training on production of chocolate coated pili in 2010 at DOST’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute as part of technology trainings and competency building provided to SETUP adoptors.

In 2011, Belen’s Pinahamis was granted assistance for the acquisition of aluminized carajay (pan), a big customized pan where the pili and other delicacies are cooked and sweetened. DOST region V and DTI Catanduanes provided further assistance in packaging the products.

Growing bigger

Through the DOST SETUP intervention, Belen’s improved the quality of products and increased its product lines from eight to 14. Among its products are mazapan de pili, glazed pili nut, salted pili nut, choco coated pili, crispy pili, caramel coated pili nut, pili brittle, roasted pili nut, taro chips, squash molido, yema de pili, squash chips, pili tart, and polvoron de pili.

Sales eventually increased and Belen’s grew from micro to a small enterprise. In fact, Belen’s received an order of 250 kg of assorted products per week for export to Japan but due to raw material limitation, the company had to turn down the order. At present, there is no direct export but Belen’s supplies 100 kg of products to a Manila-based exporter.

As Belen’s grew, it had to have additional labor to match its expansion. Previously, Belen’s had only two staff who work in the production. But now, there are six regular staff and 27 more indirectly working in the various stages of production. With a previous asset of P30,000, Belen’s now has about a million. The improved production earned Belen’s its Food and Drugs Administration accreditation.

Getting recognitions
Because of Belen’s entrepreneurial success, its owner, Ms. Bonifacio was awarded as Outstanding Catandungan Entrepinoy in 2011. Her business was also recognized as successful microbusiness by ARDCI NGO Groups, Inc. It also inspired the establishment of the Pili Village Enterprise Project in Brgy. Sto. Niño in Virac, Catanduanes.

Recently, it won in the Regional Science and Technology Cluster Fair as one of the outstanding DOST SETUP adoptors.

Written by MARIA JUDITH L. SABLAN S&T Media Service, DOST-STII