MANILA – The biggest breaks in life sometimes come in the form of disappointment. For business owner Teresita Valdez, the life-changing event happened when she was fired from her job as a factory worker.
Valdez started working in a sauce factory when she was only 13 years old, and began to dream of one day running her own business.
Her hard work paid off early and was promoted from removing fish heads to preparing the sauces. By 1996, Valdez was able to perfect the recipe for sautéed shrimp paste (bagoong).
The recipe, however, soon became the reason for Valdez to lose her job. Valdez refused to reveal the formula to her supervisor, prompting the latter to fire her.
“Pinahirapan ako ng bisor namin, kinukuha niya ‘yung pinaka-formula. Doon natanim sa isip ko na siguro ito ‘yung magiging alas ko pagdating ng araw,” she told ABS-CBNnews.com.
After losing her job in the factory, Valdez and her husband decided to set up their own business with a P10,000 capital from their savings, and another P10,000 from a partner.
“Ang ginawa ko, umalis nalang ako at hindi ko binigay ang formulation, nagtayo kami ng asawa ko ng isang maliit na pagawaan ng bagoong,” she said.
Their small bagoong business was an instant success thanks to Valdez’s recipe, which does not use preservatives and only vinegar to prolong the shelf life of the sauce.
However, Valdez’s top customer failed to pay an estimated P2 million in debt in 2007, forcing Valdez and her husband to sell their home to raise fresh capital.
Despite the setback, Valdez managed to get back on her feet through the first loan of P10,000 from microfinancing firm Tulay sa Pag-unlad Inc. (TSPI) in 2010.
She also underwent seminars under TSPI to help improve her skills in managing a business.
Valdez was able to regain the trust of her old clients, and even acquired more clients to sustain the business.
Her sauce manufacturing venture now generates annual sales of about P3.8 million, and annual profits of about P1 million.
From being a factory worker in her teens, Valdez has become a financially-savvy entrepreneur, keeping her personal and business spending on separate accounts.
All profits, Valdez said, is reinvested into the business, and she and her husband rely on a monthly salary for their daily expenses.
Around 30 people are now under working for Valdez, but she has plans to open another branch in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.
“Kung papalarin, gusto ko magkaron ng isa pang branch kasi masikip na sa amin para mabigyan ko pa ng trabaho ‘yung mga walang trabaho sa amin,” she said.
Her products have reached customers in the US, but Valdez continues to pursue the dream of becoming the country’s top exporter of bagoong.
“‘Yung pangarap, hindi po ‘yun matutupad kung hindi magsusumikap, kung hindi magtitipid at magtitiyaga para marating ang gustong maabot. At kailangan huwag kalimutan ang Diyos,” she said.
Valdez was recently named the national winner of the 12th Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards (CMA), a nationwide search for outstanding microentrepreneurs in the Philippines.
She received the award from Citi Philippines chief executive Batara Sianturi and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco Jr., co-chairs of the CMA National Selection Committee.
The CMA, which was launched in 2002, is a partnership between the BSP, Citi Philippines, and the Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc.