Felisa P. Rey, 48, Josel Rodil’s Arrowroot Cookies from Sta. Cruz, Marinduque, established 1992, has several employees, joined CARD Bank 10 years ago, is on her 10th loan, makes an annual profit of 458,900 (USD 11,472).
From a young age, Felisa Rey was poised for a revolutionary business idea. With her education sponsored by a family that had a weekend snack business, she learned to make and sell buns and rice cakes to help cover household expenses and earn money for school. After a few years, she got the idea to try making cookies out of arrowroot, a plant that her biological parents had farmed, commonly used in traditional household cooking but little-used in commercially-produced foods.
She pooled her small savings to buy the ingredients, and started selling the unusual, but tasty, cookies through small bakeries. In 2002, 10 years after she began experimenting with the cookie recipe, she got her first small loan from CARD Bank and borrowed additional money from a friend, which gave her enough to buy a machine to grind and extract arrowroot.
“Buying arrowroot flour was difficult before, because the farmers were just using an improvised wooden grinder,” she explained.
As Josel Rodil’s Arrowroot Cookies took off, and researchers published more positive findings about the health benefits of the high-fiber tropical tubers, more farmers in her province became interested in growing arrowroot. And with more supply, people have found even more uses for the plant, she added.
“Arrowroot tubers can be used instead of rice, the flour can be used to produce other food delicacies, like hot cakes, and the mash can be used as pig feed,” she listed. “We have now helped many others: the farmers and the vendors, who have this additional source of income, and the consumers who gain nutrients by eating our cookies.”
Now she has become a trusted community investor, paying new farmers to plant and harvest arrowroot, and hiring people to peel and process the products. She has more than 20 stores, dozens of employees, is on her 10th loan from CARD Bank, and makes an annual profit of 458,900 (USD 11,472) – but she and her husband are careful to grow the business steadily, without borrowing more than they can handle. The next step will be to hire more people and begin exporting the cookies throughout the country and possibly abroad.
“I’ve maintained action plans, done research with surveys, and learned from other businesses to improve Josel Rodil’s Arrowroot Cookies,” she said. “I have helped a lot of people have jobs.”
She credits CARD Bank’s training seminars with teaching her to use the Internet to market her cookies, and making the package designs more appealing. In addition to growing her business, the loans have also helped pay for her children to study computer science, marine transportation, and civil engineering.
“Thanks to CARD, I now have professional children,” she said. “They are all CARD members now, too.”