Gerome Panlilio quit his job as a pharmacist a decade ago to venture into chili garlic sauce business. After attending a seminar administered by Google in 2017, he learned how to use digital technologies to develop his brand and promote it not only in the Philippines but also in other countries.
Today, his chili oil products under the brand Germano’s Chilli are available in leading supermarkets in Metro Manila.
“Prior to starting the business, I was a pharmacy assistant at a drugstore. It came to a point that I just could not see myself retiring. I ventured into this business that my brother started in 2005. During that time, chili garlic sauces were only available in Chinese restaurants. The idea was to bring the bottled chili garlic sauce products to homes,” says the 47-year-old entrepreneur from Quezon City.
Panlilio had to attend seminars on sales, accounting and marketing to learn how to promote his products. “I did not come from a family with businesses. I also did not have friends who knew about business, so I had to learn everything by myself. I had to read books and attend seminars about marketing and accounting,” he says.
A seminar administered by Google Philippines customer solutions lead Samuel Jeanblanc in 2017 proved to be enlightening for Panlilio.
“I learned about Google My Business through a seminar led by Sam. When Sam taught Google My Business and how easy it was to set up and it was free, I was hooked. Google MyBusiness helped me with the branding of my product. I was amazed at how many views and interest that came with it,” says Panlilio.
Google helped the branding of Germano’s Chilli in terms of boosting searches online. Panlilio says he is surprised by the many monthly views and the multiple inquiries he receives each day.
“In spite of our limited resources, I have been able to supply major supermarkets like SM, Robinsons, Puregold, Rustans and Shopwise. I have had a little bit of success also in exporting my product,” says Panlilio.
Germano’s Chili now produces about 400 bottles a day and distributes the products to Metro Manila supermarkets. With such success, Panlilio was able to transfer his production site from a small space in their vacant lot to a bigger space.
Google, one of the world’s largest technology companies, is now helping micro, small and medium enterprises in the Philippines like Germano’s Chili discover larger markets with the use of digital technologies.
Google My Business is a free online listing on Google Maps and Search to help MSMEs connect with more customers in the digital space. It also helps businesses build their online presence, control their business information and create a free website and posts. It has bookings, direct contact, reviews and Q&A pages as well as an insights feature which helps businesses understand their customers better.
Other entrepreneurs who saw the benefits of Google My Business include Michelle Mariano, a former accountant from Quirino province who established Qmansi (Quirino calamansi) business and Beltran Almendral, an Igorot who sells dried pork under the brand Anito’s Dried Pork.
To encourage more MSMEs tap digital technologies, Google teamed up with the Department of Trade and Industry to launch the MSME Caravan. The caravan will tour around the country to conduct training sessions among MSME owners on digital tools such as Google My Business and the Primer app which can help create a positive impact on their business.
“The intent is to bring all these small businesses online,” says Google Philippines country director Bernadette Nacario.
“In the Philippines, 99.5 percent of the businesses are actually MSMEs. In fact, 63 percent of our workforce are hired by all these small businesses. They are contributing 25 percent to our export revenue. However, one important data that we have to be aware of is that only 1 percent of them are actually online,” says Nacario.
“The small businesses, as much as they want to go massive, cannot because they don’t understand how technology can help them. For that, Google feels that it is an important and urgent priority. We hope that through this campaign, we will be able to teach them the needed digital skills for them to scale and become globally competitive. We want these local entrepreneurs to be able to get a global exposure. It is not just here in the Philippines that we want them to go, but we also want them to become globally competitive,” says Nacario.
Jeanblanc, a French national, is leading the training across the country. “When we looked at the readiness of small businesses in this country, only 1 percent had websites and were fully digital and were able to export. The programs that we launched are really focused on helping those small businesses grow,” he says.
“We have been to more than 20 cities in eight regions. We have trained over 2,700 MSMEs already and that number keeps on increasing. We are very proud to be contributing to the objective of training hundreds of thousands of small businesses and bringing them online,” says Jeanblanc.
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