More than a “marine wonderland”, Occidental Mindoro is home to a thriving baking industry with several pastry shops and other bakeries fulfilling the sweet cravings of every Mindoreño.
A budding name in the industry is Caramela Sweets from the municipality of San Jose. Relatively new in the business, Ana Carmela Paredes, owner, accepted and fulfilled custom-made cake orders from their home kitchen. These orders usually came from their friends and families. Slowly, their business grew by teaming up with event organizers.
Despite being relatively young in the business landscape, they were able to hire additional full-time and part-time employees to amplify their business operations. Their sales notably increased in a short period.
Carmela is also a proud “Green Baker”, implementing sustainable and eco-friendly baking.
They acknowledge the impact of the Department of Trade and Industry in Occidental Mindoro on the immediate growth of their business.
With the help of the agency’s micro, small and medium enterprise development programs like the Negosyo Center, the owner was able to join and graduate from the online Kapatid Mentor ME program. The opportunity kickstarted their structured development as an enterprise. In terms of market access and development, they joined the province’s sought-after trade fair, the Agbiliwa Trade Fair.
The DTI opened an international opportunity for them as they were given a slot to join the 29th International Processing and Packaging Exhibition for Asia (ProPak Asia) in Bangkok, Thailand.
Carmela joined the delegation of other MIMAROPA MSMEs in the leading international processing and packaging trade event where they were able to acquire potential packaging suppliers, build linkages with international brands and learn from industry experts from around the world.
Carmela leaves a few words for those who wish to start their own business journeys. “Being a start-up company is difficult and full of pressure. Everything has to be done by you from planning to execution. You are accountable to the future of your company and employees and that is what makes it more arduous,” she said.
“Having an entrepreneurial mindset is the key. Avoid being dissuaded by negative thinking and self-doubt because it will manifest in your action. Instead, learn to overcome it. Take all the opportunities given to you and continue to move forward. Every decision should be data-driven. Don’t rush and take one step at a time. It takes years to build a business,” said Carmela.