BUSINESS PARTNERS Chad D. Dorego, Alex Emmanuelle G. Aponesto, and Kaye M. Peratero from General Santos (GenSan) City maintain their own day jobs for now, but they aim to eventually pursue their Good Chips venture into a full-time social enterprise.
The barely two-year old business was initially intended to develop a product that would become another trademark pasalubong (traveler’s gift) from their hometown, the Tuna Capital of the Philippines.
“When people say GenSan, all they can think of is tuna, so we wanted another product as additional pasalubong, and we decided to make use of root crops,” Mr. Dorego said in an interview in Davao City.
They knew that the idea of healthy snack options from root crops was not new, and so they started experimenting with the combination of three varieties — sweet potato, taro, and cassava — to stand out from the competition.
For now they source their raw ingredients from the main trading post but hope to work directly with the farmers someday.
“Our farmers in GenSan are indigenous people. If we grow (as a business), we are looking forward to work directly with the farmers so that we can lower the pricing, and at the same time we can also be part of the farming operation because we want to make sure that the root crops we are getting are organic,” Mr. Dorego said.
The current operation is manual, from peeling to packing, with a capacity of around 80 to 100 packs from 30 kilos of root crops per day.
Their initial P15,000 investment mainly went to buying packaging materials.
“Outside it’s craft (paper), but inside its foil to prevent oil stains because we fly the chips (to buyers). It is important in packaging (that) there is a window to make it attractive to the consumers, they can see inside… We print a sticker for the name and manually stick it,” Mr. Dorego said.
Determining the three-month shelf life of the chips was also a process of trial-and-error by opening one pack per week and determining the point when they were still suitable for consumption.
“We can’t afford the food tech(nology) to test the shelf life,” he said.
Mr. Dorego said the business has found a market in Manila and Cebu.
The Good Chips makers hope to purchase industrial equipment such as peelers, slicers, and dryers to increase production and meet the orders that they have had to turn down.
Mr. Dorego said the ultimate goal is to inspire other micro and small entrepreneurs to try social enterprise, where business benefits the community. — Maya M. Padillo