Lydia Malot only had P300 and a recipe she got from a magazine when she and her husband started their business of manufacturing nata de coco.
During the early years of their business, the husband-wife tandem from Davao worked hands-on, from grating the coconut to selling their finished products. They were running their modest business while working full-time; Lydia was a public school teacher and her husband was a mechanic. She eventually decided to leave teaching to focus on their nata de coco venture.
Her first client ordered 500 kilos of nata de coco, which eventually became eight tons a week. Lydia’s business was experiencing steady growth until the company to which she supplied closed down.
The setback was followed by a few more ups and downs. But the biggest obstacle came when her diabetic husband succumbed to kidney failure. Lydia may have lost her husband but not her determination.
The single mother bravely took on the reins and opportunities came one after another. She now supplies nata de coco to large canned food and juice producers in the Philippines, and will soon supply to a Korean drink company. Microfinance institution Kabalikat para sa Maunlad na Buhay, Inc. will provide capital for her expansion.
Good things continue to come to this hardworking woman’s way. Of the 144 nominations from 28 microfinance institutions, Lydia was chosen as the National Winner of the 2015 Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards, the first to hail from Mindanao in the program’s 12-year history.
A partnership among the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Citi Philippines, and the Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc., the CMA is a nationwide search for the most outstanding micro business owners and funded by Citi Foundation.
The National Selection Committee, chaired by Citi Philippines chief executive officer Aftab Ahmed, unanimously chose Lydia because of her impressive business achievements and acts of bravery and perseverance. She and six other winners were honored recently.
Regional Awardee for Luzon Ester Shiela Vitto and husband Ronald were able to carve a market for their homegrown sandals and slippers using old tires. Visayas Awardee Jordan Inalisan who started as a pastillas business worker is now the owner of the go-to store offering special pastillas and other delicacies from Carigara, Leyte. Maternidad Salili, Mindanao winner, is a proud manufacturer of coil springs for some of the country’s biggest manufacturing companies.
Ester, Jordan and Maternidad are clients of CARD Bank, Inc., Taytay sa Kauswagan, Inc. and KMBI, respectively.
The NSC gave the Special Award for Agri Micro-business to mushroom and organic rice grower Victoria Bantilan of Negros Occidental; and fish breeder and knife fish trader Laarni Ditablan of Binangonan, Rizal. Marines Takingan’s advocacy on organic farming in La Trinidad, Benguet earned him the Special Award for Community Leadership. Victoria is a member of the Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation, Inc., while Laarni is supported by Ahon sa Hirap, Inc. Marines receives assistance from ECLOF Philippines Foundation.
“With each passing year, it becomes more and more evident that there continues to be a great wealth of entrepreneurs in this country. These are men and women who have displayed exceptional commitment, determination, and ingenuity to create businesses that have contributed to better lives for themselves and their families as well as to the communities in which they live,” remarked Ahmed.
The winners received close to P2 million in cash and non-cash prizes that include life and health insurance coverage, 4-week entrepreneurship training, as well as laptops and IT training. They were also inducted to the CMA Alumni Network, which offers members access to a one-on-one mentoring program that aims to identify and address specific business needs of the alumni to enhance business competitiveness.