A bountiful harvest

Quezon province has one of the largest coconut farms in the country. Many local folks produce the highest quality of coconut products such as coconut sugar and vodka, among others. One of the local residents who ventured into producing tuba (coconut vodka) and sugar is Matilde Recto, a 57-year-old microentrepreneur and a mother of four children.

Matilde saw the abundance of coconut trees in her community. Upon doing research on these trees, she found out that she can create various products made from it. “My husband is a coconut farmer. Many times, I observed that many coconut parts were left unutilized. It is then that I realized that we can use it to start our business.”

In 2000, Matilde and her husband established their own tuba business. “Starting our own business was never easy. It was a roller coaster ride. We’ve been through ups and downs, trial and errors, but with the support and genuine love of our family we were able to surpass all of these.”

To be able to support her business, Matilde looked for a financial partner and met CARD MRI. On March 7, 2002, she availed microloans for her to run her business. “CARD is known in our community and because of their financial support I was able to buy equipment for our business.”

With their bountiful success, Matilde and her husband were able to send their children to college. “Luckily, we are blessed that our children saw our hard work for them to attain a better life. They helped us in running our business.”

Venturing to new business

After several years, the couple had the chance to learn about producing coconut sugar. “Aside from tuba, we decided to produce coconut sugar. We started to create samples and we found out that many consumers would love to purchase this kind of product.”

To ensure that their business could compete in the mainstream market, the Recto couple partnered with Mga Likha Ni Inay (MLNI) in 2018. With the partnership that they established, Matilde was given the opportunity to undergo a series of training and seminars for product development. “With the new knowledge and strategies that I learned from those training sessions, we were able to design our packaging that can capture the attention of potential clients. Also, we were able to widen our presence in all areas in the country.”

The Recto couple is now a manufacturer of Coco Vodka, Coco Sugar, Banana Chips, and processed meat available in her “Island Gourmet Enterprise” store. These products were among the trademarks of Quezon province.

Facing the health crisis

When COVID-19 spread in the country, many businesses were forced to temporarily close their operation. Also, as a microentrepreneur, Matilde faced this biggest challenge. “When total lockdowns were implemented by the government, we could not to anything but to abide by the protocols and restrictions. It’s either to close or think of other solutions for us to cope with the health crisis.”

The Recto couple learned to face the challenge of limited transportation and controlled number of production workers. “Even when it was a challenging time, we decided to continue our business despite the risks. We never stopped our production while following the safety protocols and now supplying products that will benefit different communities. Giving up was never an option for our family,” Matilde concluded.