Making Home Better

Posted on 10/25/2022

Picture one US citizen and eight Filipinos in a van, moving down a winding Philippine road, visiting coca sites in the area. The radio is playing “A House is not a Home,” by Luther Vandross. Everyone one knows the words, and everyone is singing in Karaoke style. The pitch may be off, but the lyrics’ meaning is understood by all. This scene is the backdrop of my visit to the Philippines where I find its citizens eagerly making the Philippines a better home for themselves. I am there as a consultant to the Grameen Foundation through its Bankers without Borders Initiative.

My assignment was to review and assess a product initiative of the Island of Samar and Leyte Agriculture Cooperative (ISLACO). The cooperative helps its members build business opportunities through product development and trade. ISLACO sells a Champorado pack. Champorado is a traditional Philippine breakfast/snack composed of rice and chocolate. These ingredients are grown by members of ISLACO. ISLACO is including dried fish in the pack to give a salty taste to the dish. The ingredients are sold in one package, rather than the usual way of each ingredient sold separately.

To begin the assignment, the team and I used a tool called the “Lean Canvas,” a one page document that helps in the assessment of business ventures. We reviewed sourcing of materials, distribution, marketing, competitive advantage and pricing. ISLACO’s leadership and staff fully embraced the process and was eager to learn. A taste test was held with other Champarado products. Surveys were conducted with thirty three Sari Sari stores, supermarkets, and souvenir shops.

We learned that the Champarado pack is convenient for the customer; however, there will be price pressures. Consumers can save some money by purchasing the ingredients separately. However, the big win for the Camparado pack is selling the culture. This is done in souvenir shops and internationally. Souvenir shops are not as price sensitive. Therefore pilots will be held in souvenir shops at or near airports. Selling the Champarado pack to the Philippine diaspora is another way to capitalize on the culture. Filipinos outside the country will welcome an authentic product from the island. This effort can begin in a year, after the appropriate licenses are obtained from the government.

I look forward to visiting ISLACO in a year to further assess their progress and launch the international portion of the plan. Building an international sales pipeline for its members will provide more economic benefits and opportunities for the region. This will go a long way in helping to make The Philippines my home also.

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