GREAT things can start from humble beginnings, they say. In the case of four sisters from Barangay Parang-Parang, Orani, Bataan, it all started with polvoron.
The Santos sisters – Pamela, Claire, Charina and Sonia – started Beakris House of Goodies with an initial capital of P500 in 1996. It was a start-up business that was also borne out of necessity.
Today, Beakris is one of the most in demand producers of homemade sweets and has become a banner product of the Galing! Bataan Brand Development Program.
How it all began
Pamela was then a graduating BS Architecture student when their parents’ livelihood, which was fishing, failed. With two other sisters also in school, she had to drop out and find a way to help the family.
She first tried peanut flavored-polvoron from a recipe Claire developed. Charina, the youngest, sold it to the schools nearby. As orders started to pour in, Pamela developed another product, creamy yema.
Beakris’ customer base grew and encouraged by this, Pamela decided to stick with the venture.
Perhaps it was her training as an architecture student that constantly pushed her to try out new ideas and apply it to her business. Aside from trying other variants for their polvoron, she also wanted to develop a packaging and label design that would make their products stand out in the market.
Then came the Galing! Bataan Brand Development Program.
Through this, she was able to get assistance from the Department of Science and Technology-Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI) which developed the packaging and label design for their polvoron. and sweet tamarind candy products.
Still wanting to stay ahead of their competitors, Pamela learned of DOST’s Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program or SETUP and how it helps entrepreneurs to be successful in their ventures. She availed herself of the program’s financial assistance of P300,000 which she invested in a double-jacketed cooking mixer and refractometer.
“SETUP offers a lot of help to small entrepreneurs like us. It is not easy for us to acquire equipment, especially if it costs a hundred thousand pesos. Borrowing money from other facilities means interest. SETUP does not charge us any interest,” Pamela said.
“Aside from having acquired equipment through DOST-Bataan, we also learned which technology is appropriate for our business,” she added.
Beakris was able to streamline production, produce better quality products and meet a growing demand for their sweets in the market.
“When we were just starting out, we manually prepared the tamarind ball candies and cooked the sweets with low fire. It was a tedious process and we couldn’t turn out as many of the sweets and as fast as the market demanded,” Pamela said.
“We were using a carajay (a deep, open pan) and a ladle to mix the ingredients and cooked the tamarind candy for two hours. Because of the length of time and difficulty of the task, they were only able to produce one batch a day,” she said.
Similarly, toasting flour to produce polvoron. was a manual task. Continuous toasting over low fire took 45 minutes to one hour, a method that sometimes produced uneven results. The polvoron. did not look good and taste was difficult to standardize.
But with financial assistance from SETUP, Beakris was on its way.
The double jacketed kettle made the preparation of polvoron and tamarind candies quicker and easier. The automated mixer, meanwhile, managed everything from cooking, heating, mixing, tilting, and lifting. They began to produce four batches or more per day and their products now had that consistency in flavor as well as appearance.
The refractometer helped in measuring the concentration of sugar in tamarind mixture, thus standardizing the taste, particularly the sweetness, of their candies.
Pamela, 46, manages the day-to-day operations of Beakris whose name was derived from their eldest sister Sonia’s two daughters, Beatrice and Kristine.
After the initial SETUP support, Beakris was still using its old oven bought in 1997. With the increasing demand for its cakes, the old oven was no longer viable for commercial production.
In 2012, Pamela again applied for SETUP support through DOST-Bataan and got a P205,000 assistance.
Beakris used this to acquire an industrial oven, sugar pulverizer, and food processor. The industrial oven baked cakes and roasted peanuts on a higher scale, the sugar pulverizer ground sugar into perfect powder, and the food processor cut and ground spices uniformly.
In its roasted peanuts alone, Beakris increased production volume by about 150 percent. With all the improvements in their business, Pamela acknowledges DOST and SETUP.
“We are very grateful to DOST. Without the assistance they gave us, we might still be preparing tamarind candies manually, roasting polvoron the old way. We had big orders before but we were not able to serve them because of our limited capacity. The DOST-SETUP intervention had a tremendous impact from production to sales.”