“I was always getting sick when I was working in the city,” says Kat Ballesteros, an accountant by education and experience. Now 30 years old, she agreed to join her husband Clifford, 37, to move to Amadeo, Cavite.
Ironically, the upland coffee town is ironically Kat’s hometown not Clifford’s, but being from a different dimension (he is Sports Science graduate from the UP), Cliff probably had an intuition that Amadeo would be “the place” for a new life.
The couple started breeding rabbits for pets in the year 2000. Cliff attended seminars given by the Farmers United Rabbit Growers Association of the Philippines or FURGAP on Rabbitry.
In 2009, Cliff, a natural handyman, began becoming serious with his love for rabbits and built a coop or cage for his new business. That was when he officially asked Kat to permanently move back to her hometown to enjoy the fresh air and the fresh produce. And by the way, she has not been sick since then.
Meanwhile, Cliff’s rabbits multiplied exponentially until he also had to learn to dress them for rabbit meat. They say rabbit meat is low in cholesterol, all-protein, and good for those with health conditions. The couple still has to get over the market’s “eew” reactions when hearing about rabbit meat but Cliff and Kat insist, “To taste is to believe!”
To share their passion for Rabbitry, the couple now hold seminars every third weekend of the month in their humble home, and charge a mere P500 for participates. The amount covers meals and snacks besides the wealth of information.
“We want to share the business idea,” the couple chimes in chorus. “We do not have so much space to house hundreds more, so what we can do now is to share the information we have.”
The couple has officially established KC Rabbitry as a business, and they have been blessed with a thriving enterprise from the pet cum new protein food source. Rabbit pets at 21 days (they say it’s the peak of “petness”) sell for P90 to P110 a piece to pet shops. Pet shops, in turn, retail the pets for P250 apiece.
Rabbits give birth every other month to as many as eight to 10 rabbits. So in per year year, one breeder pair (cost: P1,800) breed up to 80 to 100 rabbits. Do the math. It is amazing! A hundred rabbits wholesales at P90 to P100 each. And if you choose to learn to dress them, the meat is sold at P450 a kilo.
What if the rabbits get sick? Clifford has learned how to do first aid, and take care of those who are injured or fall ill. They accept or admit sick rabbits into their “pet hotel” as well until they are better for return to their owners.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. So, Kat joined Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution as the “Cavite ambassador” and has learned how to make rabbit patties, rabbit stew, and use anything she can gather in her backyard to make a good meal. Their seminar attendees get to taste rabbit meat at their place and usually become converts.
The enterprising couple does not stop there. Their place is known by the Amadeo community as “Little Recto” (in reference to the popular Manila university belt street known for just about any service students need) for providing silk-screening services, tarpaulin design and printing, and even baking.
As we ended our fellowship at ECHOfarms, the couple had to rush home to bake a cake for a town mate’s wedding. Their prices when compared with those of other known bakeshops come out less expensive, but as Clifford claims, they have “even better tasting fondant.”
From rabbits to cakes. A skip and a hop to success. This couple is not only inspiring, but are the perfect example of how “finding your passion” and enjoying your business brings in not just profit but good health.
Advocacy is also close to their hearts. Besides sharing best practices in business through their monthly seminars, Clifford coaches the Amadeo baseball team in his free time. His parents were Philippine team reps as Blue Girls and Blue Boys in their time, after all. And he is able to put his Sports Science education to good use to0.
So where did this gifted couple meet? Kat was a singer in church and Cliff was the drummer of the church choir’s band. And they fell in love, moved back to Amadeo, bred many rabbits and are now waiting for their own brood to come.
It is not everyday that you meet couples like the Ballesteroses. They speak with so much passion and one can truly feel the energy they bring into their diversified business enterprise. Yet, they remain humble and know how to give back and share.
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Chit Juan is the Founder and President of ECHOstore Sustainable Lifestyle located in Serendra , Podium, Centris, Davao City, Makati and Cebu. She is the President of Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. She often speaks to corporates, academe and entrepreneurs about her advocacies: Social Enterprise, Women Empowerment and Coffee. You can reach her at email@example.com or find her on Twitter@Chitjuan ,Instagram: CHITJUAN or Linked In: Pacita Juan.