Bo’s offers to boost startups

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013


BO’s Coffee founder Steve Benitez is opening his coffee shop as launching pad for startup entrepreneurs.

Benitez decided on the move saying startups have the potential to contribute to the economy if given the right avenue to sell their products.

Benitez said part of the company’s thrust is to help startup enterprises in the country flourish. If selected, their products will be carried in all 58 branches of Bo’s Coffee nationwide.

Benitez said the initiative is his way of sharing the success of Bo’s Coffee with the community. He said he was once a startup who dreamt of growing his coffee chain.

“I was lucky then because I was given that chance. Now it is my turn to help young entrepreneurs,” said Benitez, who serves as Bo’s Coffee chief executive officer.

Bo’s Coffee recently partnered with social and cultural enterprise Anthill Fabric Gallery for its limited edition Coffee Origins Patch Tumbler, an item that blends Filipino culture and talents showcasing the artistry of local weavers from indigenous communities all over the country.

Fabrics variety

According to Benitez, the tumblers feature a variety of fabrics from Sagada, Benguet, Mt. Matutum, Mt. Kitanglad and Mt. Apo where Bo’s sources its 100 percent Arabica beans.

Anya Lim, co-founder of Anthill Fabric Gallery, said the featured fabrics in the tumblers include Paracelis, Bontoc, Kinan-ew, and Abra patterns from the Cordillera regions of Sagada and Benguet. It also features the Abaca Pinanggabol made of abaca/hemp and woven by the Daraghuyan-Bukidnon tribe from Mt. Kitanglad and the famous T’nalak created by the dream weavers of South Cotabato.

“The launch of our tumblers and our partnership with Anthill Fabric Gallery reflects our pride in homegrown talent and our vision of positively impacting people’s lives,” said Benitez.

“Bo’s Coffee and Anthill share values of serving and promoting the preservation of homegrown culture,” added Lim.

The coffee shop also features other local brands like Gawad Kalinga-Enchanted Farm’s (GK-EF) Bayani Brew Filipino Iced Tea and local artisan chocolate brand Theo & Philo.

By next year, Benitez said they plan to support more social enterprises.

Homegrown

“We are embracing our homegrown identity. We want our customers to feel at home in our stores and be reminded of the beauty of our culture and heritage,” he said.

Aside from helping startups, Benitez is also promoting the country’s high quality of Arabica coffee beans through Bo’s Coffee Origins.

Benitez said Philippine coffee is never featured in coffee shops abroad. What he envisions is to see Philippine coffee elevated in the global stage, but first, he said, he wants to make Philippine coffee popular in the country.

He said they are making Bo’s Coffee a platform to change the image of the Philippine coffee. The coffee chain supports local coffee community by sourcing out Arabica beans in Sagada, Benguet, Mt. Kitanglad, Mt. Matutum and Mt.Apo.

Benitez said that if the country is able to increase the demand for Arabica coffee beans this would not only elevate the coffee industry but also provide livelihood opportunities and market access to coffee farmers.

“Bo’s will play a major role in making our Arabica popular to create demand and increase its supply,” he said, adding that if the industry can create huge demand of Philippine coffee it can recover as a global exporter of high quality coffee beans.

As of 2011, the Philippines was a net importer of coffee while neighboring nations including Indonesia and Vietnam are net exporters. The Philippines imports about 45,000 metric tons of coffee beans a year, worth about P4 billion, since farmers cannot produce as much coffee as Filipinos can consume.

Local demand

At present local demand for coffee is estimated at 72,000 to 90,000 metric tons but the industry only supplies 30,000 to 35,000 metric tons.

Local demand for Arabica, the high-class variant, stood at 10,000 metric tons.

The Department of Agriculture has partnered with the private sector, farmer groups, and the academe for the creation of the national roadmap to boost the coffee sector.

Bo’s Coffee also signed a partnership with the Philippine Coffee Board to drum up awareness of the quality of Philippine coffee.

The coffee industry leaders have been giving out coffee seedlings for farmers to plant. It was reported that farmers and local leaders are urged to plant as many as eight million coffee seedlings per year to reduce the country’s imports of coffee.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 11, 2013.

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