Entrepreneurs are known for their sheer grit and determination, without hesitation to seek for help and inspiration from professionals when things get rough.
Edith Christmae Tan is already an entrepreneur in her own right. She owns a 6-hectare farm in Northern Mindanao, but when the pandemic disrupted her small business, she sought inspiration from the Department of Trade and Industry’s “Kapatid Mentor ME (KMME)” program.
KMME aims to help micro, small and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs) scale up their business thru coaching and mentoring by business owners and practitioners on different functional areas of entrepreneurship.
As if balancing a business and a family was not hard enough especially in the time of pandemic, Edith pushed herself further by joining the first online KMME program as one of its mentees.
She regularly attended DTI’s bi-weekly mentorship program without a single miss.
She continued to attend the program even while on bed rest as she was already heavily pregnant.
“I was on bed rest but I still listened because I was really interested. I told myself that I will finish this,” said Edith in an interview at the DTI Northern Mindanao’s teleradio program.
Edith guested at the radio program three days only after giving birth to her second child proving that genuine entrepreneurial grit.
Edith flashed a smile while talking about her experience as an entrepreneur and a mother. Behind her, the faint cry of her baby was heard.
She could have turned down the interview, but she still agreed without hesitation and without the slightest hint of fatigue in her eyes.
Her journey of being an entrepreneur started when she came across organic farming in her search to do something that does not only benefit her family but would extend to the community as well.
“If you start with organic, you can offer your family goods and products that are safe to eat and, in turn, you can also offer a safe working environment for the farmers,” Edith explained.
That, for her, was the ripple effect of goodness, which she eventually materialized into a business. The Good Life Nature Farms is a six-hectare farm in Claveria, Misamis Oriental that practices a mix of natural and organic farming technologies that aims to provide all-organic quality herbs, spices, and meats to its customers.
It started with cayenne peppers and turmeric as its first produce in April 2016, along with lettuce and other crops that were initially grown for family supply. It has since expanded to provide quality spices for its business partners while still growing its line of produce and showcasing the products in trade fairs and exhibits.
The pandemic challenged her hands-on type of management as she was not allowed to travel to the farm because of her condition.
Sale of goods or crops went down because of the strict quarantine measures that limited the movement of buyers and even resulted to temporary closure of malls where vegetables of The Good Life Nature Farms were being sold.
However, the pandemic was also an eye-opener for Edith not to rely on fresh produce alone and to start shifting to e-commerce.
“It’s hard to put all your eggs in one basket; I was always worried that everything might topple off with this one sales channel that I have. I wanted to go online but the nature of my produce being fresh prohibits me,” Edith shared.
“Gut feel urged me to have a presence online so I thought of products that I could sell and logistically possible to deliver. That is why selling vermicast and potting online was thought of. I wanted my online store to be more diverse so I started distributing natural amendments through it.”
Edith admitted that the shift to digital platform did not pick up right away. “I had to establish it for a while; I’m actually still establishing it now. I had to promote my store online through social media accounts and learn the ropes of the online platform to make it work. After a while, I started to have orders through it. I was thankful that even if I spend most of my time at home, I still managed to create another income stream aside from the fresh produce.”
The shift to e-commerce allowed Edith to reach out to distributors of fresh produce who already have established markets. “It was all business to business transaction. They had better access to the buying public despite the restrictions and I was able to course my goods through them.”
She credits the KMME program for motivating her to find the meaning of her business.
That plus her determination to push herself to success and ask for help when she needed it allowed her to continue her agribusiness in the time of pandemic and even finished the KMME module, becoming one of the 40 mentees who graduated in the first online KMME of DTI Northern Mindanao.
“If you know what you want, you will always look for a way. Look for a solution to the challenges). We can all have reasons to give up but never stop,” she concluded.