Saturday, January 11, 2014

Unveiling the Story of Marinduque's "3 SISTERS' HOMEMADE BANANA CHIPS"

3 SISTERS’ HOMEMADE BANANA CHIPS, which is essentially on its 17th year, is a story of adaptation, survival, and continuous adaptation. Its mere existence is a story…a story of hardships, inspirations, and successes.

During those years when Marcopper Mining Corporation (MARCOPPER) was still operational, I personally think that life is easier for the locals of Marinduque. The mining company was the source of income for a number of local residents. Our family is in fact one of those who were dependent on MARCOPPER. However, in 1996, my father was laid off, together with other employees. In effect, our family had problems financially. And we had no choice but to adapt to the situation. My parents had a thorough deliberation on how we could raise our family given the fact that our primary source of income was gone. And they came up with a decision, that is, to put up a small business. But the problem did not end there. What kind of business? How much would be the capital? Can we afford to have one? These were some of the questions they had to answer.

Business…it took a while before my parents have decided on what specific business they are pursuing. After several considerations, 3 SISTERS’ HOMEMADE BANANA CHIPS was born. That time, they believed that it was a good choice because we were one of the pioneers of banana chips industry in the province. Also, the raw materials for the production were locally available and the capital needed was not that high. The procedure we used in production actually came from a livelihood training sponsored by the Department of Agriculture (DA) in 1996.

Banana, the main raw material.

That banana is almost ready for harvest.

Our first materials/equipment were plain knife (used to slice banana), “kawa” (a cooking utensil), chopping board, “syanse”, improvised strainer, vegetable oil, and a low class cellophane for packaging. The initial price was one peso per pack and the first clienteles were school canteens in nearby communities. In addition, my late grand father shared his time to look for potential consumers and was able to establish market in the towns of Mogpog, Torrijos, and Boac. I will be honest to admit that we have received positive as well as negative feedbacks with regards to the quality of our product. And these comments served as our basis for continuous improvements. We were able to incorporate changes in the flavor, shelf life, packaging, and transportation of the product. In terms of marketing, referrals made by customers became our key strategy. Moreover, we were able to improve our packaging through the assistance from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). 

Packaging of Banana Chips.

At present, we have been distributing 3 SISTERS’ HOMEMADE BANANA CHIPS in all six towns of Marinduque. We also have customers who directly negotiate with us and serve as our distributors in provinces of Quezon, Batangas, and Laguna. We also do toll manufacturing, wherein the clients use their names for our product. Occasionally, “balikbayans” and foreigners visit us, our products being used as their “pasalubong.” So far, we have four variants: ORIGINAL FLAVOR, SUGAR-FREE, SALTED, and LANGKA FLAVOR. The said variants are being packed as 50 g, 100 g, 150 g, and 500 g. Toll products were packed based on the clients’ request.

There were instances that we were also invited to participate in food fairs in other places. Last 2013, we were one of the nominees for the Most Innovative Products category of the DTI-sponsored "Sikat Pinoy National Food Fair."

3 Sisters' Display in Sikat-Pinoy 2013

Part of our vision is to expand our business. This is to provide jobs to our neighbors, since they are our priority when it comes to job orders. Also, we are a sure market for local banana growers. 

Our Neighbor and Employee in the Production.

She's ready to pack the product.

Some of our employees during their break time.

However, expanding the business means additional production and labor cost. Good thing our early efforts to do such stuffs were funded by corresponding loans in Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) Bank.

CARD Bank Inc.

In our business, we are not afraid to share our experiences and knowledge. In fact, my mother has been asked several times to teach groups of women on how to make banana chips during livelihood programs and activities. She also taught some of our relatives and one of them is actually making name in Batangas. On a personal note, it is really fulfilling to see people succeed and knowing that your business took part in their humble beginnings.

As said earlier, the idea of putting up this business emerged due to financial insecurity after my father was laid off in his job. And at this point, I am proud to say that our banana chips business has been very instrumental in supporting our studies. My eldest sibling is now a licensed civil engineer working for a reputable communication company. My second sibling graduated BS Business Administration as cum laude and is now taking up Master in Business Administration while attending to her job as sales officer. I am a licensed chemist and is currently working as research associate working for a DOST-funded bioethanol project while pursuing Master of Science in Environmental Science in UPLB. The youngest one is currently taking up BS Industrial Engineering. Also, we were able to invest for a car which is now being used for deliveries.

The 3 Sisters of the family business.

It's me working in the lab.

I would like to acknowledge my parents, who have been partners no matter what. They were really good parents. The fruits of hard work were made possible because they worked as a team. And of course, GOD never failed to help our family.

Our very supportive parents.


Leneth Puti-an said...

Whenever I here family business successful like this inspires me to have one someday. Kudos to you and your family:)

Leneth Puti-an said...

This story proves that successful business starts from simple things. It inspires me to have one someday:)

Roniel Macatol said...

Congrats s family business, ikaw pala si bro ng 3 sisters. Pa share ng blogpost s dtimimaropa fb and entrepjournal. Tnx!