Ambulong SLP Association: The Extra in the Ordinary Banana Chips

In line with the objective of the Sustainable Livelihood Program to create an enabling environment for accessing income-generating opportunities to address basic needs, the scheme of the program is to create a group called SLP Association that will manage a microenterprise. One of the major challenges the program faces is the sustainability of operation of the SLPA itself. In the project implementation stage, beneficiaries are challenged to be continuously capacitated towards self-governance and sustain the operations since there is a limited access to technical assistance, which can be associated to the geographical location and terrain of MIMAROPA. Technical experts and resource persons are challenged to reach beneficiaries from far-flung areas which affects the timely and efficient delivery of services.

In the aspect of marketing the products, most of the microenterprises have no appropriate branding and packaging for their products. Thus, there is a challenge in meeting the standards of the competitive market nowadays. Thus, the Ambulong SLP Association of Brgy. Limon Sur, Looc, Romblon focused on addressing this concern.

Womenpreneurs of Ambulong

Ambulong SLPA is a 100% women-owned business composed of 20 members engaged in banana chips processing. It was funded in November 2017 under the Seed Capital Fund and Cash for Building Livelihood Assets amounting to a total of PHP 245,000.00. Before the implementation of the program, most of the members worked as vegetable vendors and housemaids earning PHP 3,500.00 to PHP 4,000.00 a month. There were also housewives who wanted to earn extra income to support their families.

Upon market analysis, the SLPA identified banana chips processing as a viable livelihood considering the abundant resource of banana in the municipality. They built a small processing center along highway where they sell their products.

To further improve their skills in the chosen microenterprise, members enrolled in series of trainings involving techniques in banana chips processing. After a few months of operation, they have already acquired assets including additional tables and kitchen utensils. They can also afford to purchase bigger quantity of raw ingredients such as sacks of sugar and liters of oil.

Good Practices Leading to Improvement 

Product Enhancement

  • The banana chips became thinner and crispier. They replaced the existing cooking oil they use with the one of a better quality. Though the replacement is a little expensive, customers’ feedback on banana chips is more favorable.
  • After the training, the number of flavors of banana chips increased from two to five. Flavors include Original, Sweet, Salted, Sour Cream, and Pandan.
  • Based on the customers’ feedback, the use of wood than LPG in cooking results to better and tastier banana chips.

Product Packaging

  • The association outsourced a graphic artist to create the official logo of the product.
  • To maintain the crispiness of banana chips, the association sought the technical assistance of DTI to improve the packaging from the ordinary clear plastic sealed through heat sealer machine to resealable plastic pouch.
  • The packaging has label that includes the (1) manufactured and expiration dates, (2) ingredients, (3) weight, and (4) promotional ad of the product.
  • The SLPA has already secured barangay, mayor’s, and sanitary permits. It has also been a CSO-accredited association since 2017. DTI has shown its unwavering support through the provision of packaging and labeling of banana chips that is product-appropriate and bear relevant information about the product.

Lessons Learned

  • The quality of a product is critical in satisfying the customers, thus a business should always maintain the highest possible standards.
  • Always consider the feedback of customers. This will help improve the quality of a product.
  • Food safety and sanitation in a food industry should not be underestimated.
  • Having the right marketing strategy is important to promote and sell the products.

Implications for Replication 

The initiative of the SLPA to seek for technical assistance form external partners/agencies that can potentially contribute to the development of a product is very commendable. Members should find experts who can help provide new knowledge and skills to the project participants.

Microenterprises should prioritize product development and product packaging. Other associations can also outsource an expert to create their own logo and packaging. Also, associations must secure all the important documents to avoid inconvenience in business transactions.  These include business permits, Memorandum of Agreement/Understanding, Constitutions and By-Laws, and many more. ###

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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