Cancer leads this survivor to her tea business

 

 

 

Meriam G. Santos, owner of Sammi Personal Care Productst, suffered from cervical cancer, which gave her an unflinching desire to ease her condition, through the natural and less expensive way.

 

Usingt research and literature, she concocted an herbal tea out of luyang dilaw (turmeric), banaba, ampalaya, sambong, gotu kola, sibucao seeds, and ginseng. Her self-made tea made her feel better with her doctors attesting to her improvement and even calling her tea story “amazing,” hence the name of the product “Amazing Tea.”

 

Santos began giving free herbal teas to her neighbors to share with them the positive effects of her tea. After getting good feedback from her neighbors, she decided to put up a start-up firm which was then located in Tanauan, Batangas.

 

She had to move to Odiongan, Romblon in 2008 after her husband was assigned to work in the province. She went back to square one but with a good product and a good market strategy, it didn’t take her so long to gain a good reputation and new set of customers again.

 

Her business strategies are simple—produce a good product, invest in samples and rely on the word of mouth from satisfied customers to grow the business.

 

DOST Assistance

 

The firm first requested assistance for technology acquisition, packaging and labeling to DOST-MIMAROPA through SETUP (Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program) in 2009 but was declined due to conflicts in the nature of her business registration and temporary status in Romblon.

 

An initial grant was indirectly provided to the firm through the Odiongan Senior Citizens Association for the packaging of their herbal balm. It helped the business to become stable and soon after, the family decided to make it their sole bread and butter.

 

However, in 2013, DOST said the tea products needed improvement in packaging and labeling to cater to more buyers. The DOST provided the firm a packaging and labeling assistance. She became the most frequent user of the newly-established toll packaging center in Romblon.

 

In 2015, the firm, which is now a member of the group HIMO, availed of the form-fill-seal toll packaging services of the PSTC that had its products packaged in sachets.

 

Improved flavor

 

Now, Amazing Tea has improved its flavor by adding stevia and coco sugar to its ingredients. It soon became a part of the Sulong Romblon Tea—three different individually-wrapped herbal teas packaged in a small box made by Romblomanons and a favorite pasalubong to friends and loved ones.

 

The firm reached its tipping point when mimaropaventures.ph (an online marketing portal of the DOST-MIMAROPA for MSMEs), MSME Mentoring Program, CAMPI Program, and SETUP came into the picture. CAMPI and the Mentoring Program helped them develop a techno-preneurial mindset and convert their manufacturing processes from a backward kitchen-type operation to one that is GMP- compliant.

 

SETUP served as the enabling mechanism for the conversion allowing the firm to acquire appropriate technology to greatly improve their production process. The online marketing platform, mimaropaventures.ph, further enhanced the firm’s popularity that increased their products’ distributorship nationwide and even in Malaysia by as much as a hundred distributors.

 

Growth leap

 

After the interventions provided to the firm by DOST, their productivity grew from 30 percent to 147 percent. They were also able to increase their employment from 5 to 13 workers. The firm recently acquired a five-hectare land planted with turmeric and other raw material inputs and was able to establish a manufacturing plant that is GMP-compliant.

 

“Sipag at tiyaga at magdasal muna bago gumawa at huwag kalimutang tumulong sa may sakit dahil ito ay babalik din at syempre ang malaking tulong sa akin ng DOST, lumaki at gumanda ang aking negosyo. Ang mentoring at saka ang pagpapadala ng mga CAMPI consultants ang tumulong para maisaayos ang aking planta upang maging GMP compliant ito. Ganun din ang pagpro-promote ng aking product online sa MIMAROPA Ventures. Grabe ang daming orders talaga sa akin kung saan-saan galing na tawag, kinukulang na nga kami minsan sa raw materials. Kahit na sa Mindoro abot na namin sa pamimili ng luya, pero kulang pa din! Malaki’ng pasasalamat ko talaga sa DOST [My business grew through hard work, prayers, helping others especially the sick and, of course, the assistance of DOST. The mentoring program and the productivity consultants from CAMPI helped my production plant become GMP-compliant. Through the promotion of my product online in MIMAROPA Ventures, I get orders from just about anywhere that sometimes we run out of raw materials. We even buy ginger as far as Mindoro, but it’s still not enough! I am very thankful to DOST],” she said.

 

She said another key to her success is her empathy for her workers. “Halos lahat ng workers ay natulungan ko. Importante sa akin ang mga workers ko dahil kung wala sila ay wala din itong negosyo ko [I have helped almost all my workers. They are important to me because without them, I won’t have this business].”

 

One such loyal employee is Edelfred G. Fallarcuna, who started working for the firm when he was 18 years old and he is now 26 and still serves as the firm’s driver or plant worker during peak seasons.

 

He said because of the firm, he was able to help his family during his younger years and now that he has his own family, he was able to build his own house and buy a motorcycle as service vehicle.

 

His elder brother also works in the firm, which helped improve their family’s living condition. (With reports from Marcelina V. Servanez and Mae Angelica Fabito-Famini, PSTC- Romblon)

 

 

 

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