Former sailor’s leap into baking class helps him land a good deal

STRONG entrepreneurs never give up. They are determined to see the light in the midst of all the tunnels they have to pass through.

Such is the story of Mario Arreglo, 41, the first Men in Business (MIB) winner of the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI).

Knowing that going into business would help him uplift his family’s quality of life faster, Arreglo grabbed all the opportunities available to realize this dream.

Win or lose, he never gave up.

He first got into a poultry business in partnership with four uncles in Daanbantayan. This was his first business venture and it cost him P55,000, an amount he had saved after working for three years as part of a vessel’s crew.

Unfortunately, the business did not last long. He cited the absence of entrepreneurial know-how as the problem.

This first loss did not dampen Arreglo’s will to succeed. As the eldest of nine siblings whose father had just lost a job, he knew he needed to step up to make ends meet.

Arreglo tried his luck in the city. With the help of his aunt, he enrolled in a technical-vocational program to gain new skills.

Aside from taking a short course on air-conditioning and refrigeration, he also took up baking and cake decorating classes during the evenings just to please his aunt.

“It was my aunt who pushed me to take the baking class. I was hesitant because it was for women but she repeatedly said I would be able to use the skill someday. And it is making sense now,” said Arreglo, who at that time was his aunt’s right-hand man in her cake business.

When his aunt died, Arreglo was left with a small home rental business to take care of. For a time, he also became a real estate broker but eventually left.

“I got overwhelmed by all those trips to site locations that I lost focus on closing deals,” he said. Deep in his heart, he really wanted to build a business of his own.

When the MIB opportunity came, the barangay captain picked Arreglo to represent Barangay Umapad in MCCI’s search for MIB, an advocacy that aims to help displaced men and help them learn new skills as well as entrepreneurship.

“I was asked by the MCCI panel what business I would pursue if given the chance, and I told them I would venture into the waffle business because I can make many flavors and use my baking background,” said Arreglo.

With the help of the marketing students of University of Cebu-Banilad (Campus), Arreglo made his first business plan. He was one of the 11 aspiring entrepreneurs (from 27 applicants) who were put into a classroom set-up
training and required to attend business workshops and produce feasible business proposals.

Arreglo’s MCCI mentor is Steven Yu, last year’s Mandaue Business Month chairperson.

“I felt like I was given the second chance to make things right in business,” he said, adding that joining the program made him realize there are plenty of things to master in order to grow a business successfully.

Arreglo won P20,000 cash and long-term mentoring opportunities with MCCI business owners and other business workshops. He used the money as a seed capital for his waffle business, and he now supplies his product to street vendors in Mandaue City. Arreglo earns at least P400 a day net.

He dreams of making the business big and eventually supplying waffles to bigger clients or corporate accounts. Arreglo is also exploring other products he can make out of his skills.

“Looking back, I realized that all the failures I experienced, the baking class I first declined to join were all preparations by God for me to be successful in MIB. And I am truly grateful for that,” said Arreglo.

The MIB program was developed by San Miguel Brewery Inc. and adopted by MCCI.
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