With only P200 as capital, Fruit of Life succeeds

She started with only P200 as capital in 2005. Eight years later, Ma. Ferlina “Jojo” Galvan, Jr. through her business Fruit of Life Enterprises, is now selling the coconut-based products she developed in malls and abroad as well as provide income to many farmers in Aklan.

“I am an agriculturist of the Philippine Coconut Authority in Aklan, so I know the technology. My first product was one liter of virgin coconut oil. The Bible said, give out your first fruit and that’s what I did. I gave it to my mother and to an officemate who had been suffering from psoriasis for many years. Now, my officemate is cured,” she told TNT Libre during the Aklan Product Expo 2013 at the SM City Event Center, which runs from Sept. 30 to October 6.

“We saw the benefits of virgin coconut oil. It cures almost all kinds of illnesses,” she said.

She sources the raw products from their own plantation and from other coconut farmers, whom she also trains.

Aklan’s 17 municipalities are mostly into coconut farming.

“When copra is priced low, we encourage the farmers to make by-products so that they can sell these at a low price,” she said.

Fruit of Life Enterprises’ products include coconut sugar, VCO massage oil varieties like ylang-ylang, green, peppermint, eucalyptus, citronella and sampaguita; soap varieties like carrot, papaya, germicidal, herbal medicated, oatmeal with milk, glutathione and lightening gluta; coco choco drink mix, coco noodles with coco flour, beverages, wines and more.

Their market includes Norway, Manila and Boracay. “My buyer from Norway gets 100 kilos of sugar every two weeks and then brings these to the said country. We also have buyers from Manila. In Aklan, most of our buyers are foreigners because they prefer organic products. We are also thankful that the Kalibo airport has a space for the Aklan Food Processors, so we are able to sell our products. Hugod Aklanon also caters to our products,” Galvan said.

So far, Galvan has developed less than 30 products out of coconut. She is still developing  shampoos, buko pie sweetened by coco sugar, buko cassava pie, pinasugbo with coco sugar and more.

“There are 1,001 uses of coconut. We just need more people to do it,” she said.

Fruit of Life Enterprises has eight regular employees but hires farmhands on a daily basis.

“I hire ‘mananggetes’ on a contractual basis. There’s one who only finished grade 3 but was able to graduate two siblings in college. There is one who has four children, so he was able to send them to college. I teach them the technology,” she said.

She said you need not wear make-up or new clothes in order to work. “Like the mananggete, they can already work under the coconut tree and still spend time with their families because they work together,” she said.

“The women are given work, too. They are the ones pulverizing the coco sugar from caramelized coco syrup,” she said.

“Whenever someone asks me for work, I ask them if they are willing to learn and if they do, I hire them. That’s why I don’t want to stop because if I do, it will affect many. If they did not finish school, still they can let their children finish school,” she said.

“You don’t have to be a politician in order to help,” she said.

Galvan said that she is not a businesswoman but an entrepreneur.

“Focus on the quality of what you are making and the benefits it can give to the buyer,” she advises those who want to go into business.

“For example, we made coco sugar because diabetics requested for it. They said, ‘make us food that we can enjoy the sweetness of sugar without increasing our blood sugar’. The glycaemic index of coco sugar is suited for those with diabetes. Ants and flies are not attracted to it either,” she said.

She also advised, don’t just aim to sell but also aim for repeat orders.

“It means, they love your products,” she said.* BACK TO HOME

Check out these popular posts, too

The San Lorenzo Wind Farm and a brighter future for renewable energy

10 must-eats at DoVa Brunch Cafe

SM City Iloilo launches solar panels

Sea Spa: relaxing escape to the sea and the surf

Ilonggos fulfill poor students’ dreams to finish college

Miag-ao hablon weaving

Why stay at The B Lifestyle Complex in Iloilo

Sino ang panalo? Ang bully or ang api?

Manny Librodo photography: a landscape of emotions

Sea Spa: the first beach spa in Iloilo