FOR someone who has experienced difficulty at an early age, giving up is not an option.

It was poverty that motivated Rey Calooy, founder of RNC Marketing Philippines, to work harder in school and twice as hard in business.

He had no formal business background, but as a child from Leyte, Rey knew his calling was to be in business. For him, that was his only ticket to bring the family out of poverty.

He worked his way up, including juggling work with his studies just to finish college.

“I took up an accountancy course because akong amo nga Chinese sa Carbon market niingon siya nga kon mag working college student ko, accountancy akong kuhaon kay bisan ug punerarya dunay accounting ug salesman ug sigurado ko nga makatrabaho ko (The Chinese businessman that I worked for told me to take up accountancy because even funeral parlors needed an accountant and sales staff),” Rey shared. He finished the course in six years.

Rey founded RNC Marketing, a micro packing innovator established in 1994.

He said he saw an opportunity to serve the under-served “sachet economy” in the Philippines in the 1990s. His business repacks sugar, coffee creamer, oil and coffee among other products into micro-packs, making it accessible and affordable.

Rey has also served as chairman of the Filipino Cebuano Business Club Inc. (FCBI) for 10 years now, helping micro, small and medium entrepreneurs improve their businesses and hone their entrepreneurial skills.

“My personal dream for MSMEs in Cebu is to become more vibrant and the growth driver of our local economy,” he said.

Every Friday, members of the FCBI gather for fellowship and learn from each other’s business struggles and victories.

Rey said they call it MSME Kapihan where they discuss about each other’s businesses.

“We must learn from each other so we could grow altogether,” Rey shared, stressing that in today’s business age, entrepreneurs need each other to combat challenges, competition and disruption.

What was your first job?

My first informal job was selling water spinach (kangkong), fruits, vegetables, and buying and selling scrap and junk materials during my elementary and high school days. In college I worked in Carbon market as a porter and seller while studying at Cebu Central Colleges (now University of Cebu).

When I went home to Leyte, I brought with me products from Carbon and sold them there. And when I went back to Cebu, I brought with me agri-products from my hometown and sold them here. Even now, I am still doing buy-and-sell.

After college, my first formal employment was in media. I worked as radio new reporter for DYLA. But then I was retrenched. I then applied for another job as sales representative of International Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Who inspired you to get into business?

I felt poverty at my early age. We are six siblings in the family and we were raised by our mother through her small vending ventures every Sunday in places where cockfighting took place. She got her supply of grocery items from, cooperatives and I was her sidekick. I helped her sell them. This is where I saw the importance of having a small business to fight poverty. This is also the reason why I am drawn to helping small business owners and mentoring them.

When did you realize this was what you were meant to do?

I realized it at an early age while I was in elementary. My only hope of getting rich was by getting into business. Every time I sold my scrap and junk materials to Chinese buyers in our province, I always thought: “Why are they rich when they are not from here?”

Why did you pick this type of business or industry?

This is the only business where there is no multi-national company that dominates the playing field. This may be a small business, but it had the potential to grow big one day, so long as I took good care of it.

Through the repacking business, I can also help empower my fellow micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to improve their products and services. One example is the FEB20 Enterprises, the maker of Mandaue Nutri-cious polvoron, where I helped in the product packaging.

Where did you get the training you needed to succeed?

I was already trained by my parents to work hard, to be thrifty, to constantly pray and to be grateful every day. My strong background as sales representative also helped me win in the game of selling. I talk to people and share with them my ideas. I also actively join business network associations because for me, they help you set the right mind in business before leveling up.

How many times did you fail before you succeeded?

For me it takes 99 percent of failures before you can have one percent of success. I knew from the wisdom of other successful entrepreneurs that 80 percent of fuel consumption of aircraft is during its take off. So don’t mind failures. Continue to learn every lesson from it. Do what you love to do and enjoy the journey.