Socio-cultural entrepreneur

PROMOTING her tribe’s rich culture and products through social and cultural entrepreneurship is this beauty titlist turned entrepreneur’s way of business.

Inna Maristela Cassandra Betil Garcia of the Bagobo K’lata tribe, the reigning Hiyas (gem) ng Kadayawan 2016 and one of the owners of Kapeng Nitibo, a native coffee brand, shared her journey with her business partner Kessia Tar (who is also Hiyas ng Kadayawan 2014 titlist) into entering the world of business at age 22.

The Hiyas’ coffee business comes with an advocacy of bringing Davao’s tribal culture and coffee to heights and bounds.

“The passion of helping my tribesmen and revive our diminishing culture are just some of my reasons why I entered into business. We have our very unique coffee, really of quality, but it has never been known, so we thought of making a business out of promoting our tribe’s authentic, organic coffee,” Garcia said.

As a fresh graduate of Business Administration major in Marketing Management of the Philippine Women's College, Garcia shared that the start is always the hardest and most challenging as she was confronted with problems shaking her physically, mentally and financially.

But just a month ago, when they started their small business with only P800 as initial capitalization, they already received numerous positive feedbacks including those from Department of Trade and Industry secretary Ramon Lopez and Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion, when Garcia and Tar participated in the agency’s recently launched Mentor Me Program.

“We are very overwhelmed, they got interested, they even intend to bring our coffee to Manila,” Garcia said.

Garcia added, however, they still have to consider a lot of things before jumping into decisions as further development of the product is needed and supply should also be taken into consideration.

The coffee product is currently marketed through direct selling online.

The budding enterprise’s production reached to 200 packs at 150 grams each, which is sold for only P85 per pack.

Asked on why they chose coffee as their product, the two young businesswomen shared, "Because coffee is something sustainable and we also want to introduce the authentic and organic, traditional coffee from the highlands of Davao City. It is a product that we think should be highlighted as it can uplift our culture and at the same time help our indigenous people farmers get additional income."

As way of helping their tribes, Garcia said they are buying and sourcing ground coffee from the tribal communities in Calinan, Tamayong, Tambobong and Baguio District at a premium price (P130 per kilo), which is higher than the buying prices of other traders (P80 to P100 per kilo).

Kapeng Nitibo is a mixture of Excelsa, a coffee variety and corn. The coffee products is sourced from the Lumads, processed by their elders and marketed by them.

“As a way of giving back to our tribes, some 30 percent of our sales, we intend to donate it to tribal communities particularly the Bagobo K’lata, Tagabawa, Ovu Manuvu, Matigsalog and Ata in goods such as school supplies for the young Lumads education."

Garcia said that in their journey, bottlenecks are but inevitable.

“Many of our relatives hesitate and think our business will not work. It is weakening but with our determination and vision of realizing our cause, we take those negativities as our motivation to push through this advocacy,” she said.

Looking ahead, Garcia and Tar are positive that they can open their own coffee shop that has a unique tribal concept.

They also shared that they set an appointment with Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio to promote their product and hopefully sell it soon at the Pasalubong Center.

“It is our pride and honor to introduce our tribe's unique and rich culture (to the market). And as a businesswoman, it's my privilege to make a difference for our tribe,” Garcia said.

The young businesswoman, indeed, was true and sincere when she answered during the Q&A portion of the Hiyas ng Kadayawan 2016 last August: “A successful businesswoman has a heart that can understand every people’s situation and has skills and abilities that can help them.”

With this, everyone can truly attest that this beauty titlist and emerging entrepreneur is walking the talk, a true Hiyas of the city.
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