By Carmencita A. Carillo

Beauty queens from Bagobo tribe promote culture with coffee enterprise

Posted on October 13, 2016

DAVAO CITY -- Two winners of the annual pageant for women from the city’s 11 indigenous people (IP) groups have turned entrepreneur with a venture on their tribe’s native coffee.

Inna B. Garcia (L) and Kessia D. Tar, both winners of the local pageant Hiyas ng Kadayawan representing the Bagobo-Klata tribe, aim to promote their indigenous culture with their native coffee product. -- Carmencita A. Carillo
“In Davao we are promoting culture but no one is really selling products made by the indigenous peoples,” said Kessia D. Tar, who was crowned Hiyas ng Kadayawan in 2014.

Ms. Tar, who belongs to the Bagobo-Klata tribe, is an Accounting Technology graduate of the Ateneo de Davao University.

She has partnered with her friend and fellow Bagobo, reigning Hiyas ng Kadayawan Inna B. Garcia, a Marketing graduate from the Philippine Women’s University, for the development of the brand Kapeng Nitibo, which means native coffee, and have started marketing it.

“This coffee is part of our culture because our tribe has been using this for years. We just improved on its packaging,” Ms. Tar said during a media forum where they introduced the product.

The goal, they said, is to promote Kapeng Nitibo as an alternative pasalubong (souvenir gift) from Davao.

Aside from the Bagobo tribe of the city’s Baguio District where both girls trace their ancestry, the same coffee is also consumed by other Davao tribes like the Ata, Matigsalog, Bagobo Tagabawa, Klata and Ovu Manobo.

Kapeng Nitibo is a mixture of the excels variety and corn, traditionally boiled in a native claypot.

“We already asked the permission of the tribal council that we will sell the product and they agreed,” Ms. Tar said.

The beauty queen duo said they started their business with a meager capital of only P800, but they are aiming to grow not just to earn a profit but also to help uplift the lives of their fellow IPs by buying their dried coffee beans at a price higher than the current rate of P80-P100 per kilo.

“We have also committed to give 30% of our profits back to the lumads (IPs) by distributing school supplies and other items they need,” Ms. Tar said.

At present, they are selling Kapeng Nitibo at P85 for a 150-gram pack through direct selling to their network of friends.

They said a local coffee shop wanted to buy their product but their mixture is not suitable with existing coffee machines.

To move forward, the two have enrolled at the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Mentor Micro-Enterprises (Mentor ME) program, which was launched in the city last week.

Mentor ME is one of the three components of the KAPATID: Angat Lahat! Program, which will be implemented by DTI in partnership with the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, Inc. -- Go Negosyo.

At the launch, Go Negosyo’s Joey A. Concepcion signified his intent to help market Kapeng Nitibo in the capital.

Ms. Tar said they are excited about the prospects of their product and how it could help promote their culture. “We have to make sure that the young ones get to live and know their culture even if exposed to the modern world.”