189 week ago — 6 min read
Working as a call center agent for 11 years caused Hazel Asignar, 39, to suffer from several illnesses.
Although she was allowed by her company to have an indefinite leave for a couple of months, her health condition didn’t improve; it even went downhill as she lost 20 kilograms along the way. After a year of an indefinite leave, she decided to resign as advised by her doctor.
“When I resigned, the first thing that came to my mind was how to pay for my medical expenses. I also had a fear (on how to support) my eldest son who was about to get into college at that time,” she shares.
Without a stable income and appalling medical bills, she was buried in debt and was forced to look for another source of income to make ends meet.
Coupled with her determination and flair in cooking, she launched her food business, Ninang’s Kitchen, and started selling bagoong (sautéed shrimp paste) in 2017 with only a capital of P1,000.
“At that time, I tried posting on social media and I was overwhelmed to receive a lot of orders,” she recalls.
With a growing demand for her product, having enough working capital became her problem.
“I was afraid to get a loan because I have a bad credit history and I still have debts.” Asignar shares that she used to get advance payments from her customers to keep her products rolling and meet the orders.
There are times that I would think of going back to work while managing my business. But I realized, I cannot serve two masters. If I want to be successful in my field, I should only focus on one thing.
But her situation changed when a good friend lent her P20,000 to bring her products to the largest Regional Trade Fair in Bohol.
“I joined the regional trade fair with the help of my friend. I was able to get purchase orders from the three major malls in Bohol,” she exclaims.
It was her biggest buyers at that time and all of her products worth of P100,000 were sold out during the event. With her milestones, she was able to have the adequate working capital to expand her business and she was also able to pay all her debts.
Also read: 6 financing options to help your business stay afloat during and after a crisis
Aside from having major malls in Bohol as her clients, she’s also supplying her products at One Town One Product (OTOP) hub in Cebu and Siquijor, and local establishments in Dumaguete City including supermarkets and hotels.
As she penetrated the local market in Dumaguete, she was able to double her monthly sales.
Asignar couldn’t imagine growing her business without the help of the Department of Trade and Industry in Region 7 (DTI-R7). “They have assisted me right from the start. They helped me with the labeling and packaging of my products, and connected me to the right networks and suppliers,” she shares. She has been getting necessary mentorship from DTI up until now. The recent platform she was connected with is UnionBank GlobalLinker.
Also read: How to start digitizing your business
“DTI introduced UnionBank GlobalLinker to me. I’m happy with the platform. It helped me launched my own online store which I’ll be using to reach out to my existing and potential customers in other parts of the country, especially in Luzon.”
Recalling her life 10 years ago, she can’t help but be grateful to where she is now. She now understands why she has to go through rejections and failures. “Those promotions that I didn’t get, I realized that it was not really for me,” she learns. It was her preparations for something bigger in store for her.
“Life is much better now. Before, I’d used to wait for my payday and if I run out of money, I would end up borrowing money,” she reveals.
“There are times that I would think of going back to work while managing my business. But I realized, I cannot serve two masters. If I want to be successful in my field, I should only focus on one thing,” she adds.
In the end of the conversation with GlobalLinker, she left a piece of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs. “Pursue the business that you really love, so you’re happy while doing it. You have to have enough courage and strength to persevere so that despite the challenges you will still continue because you love what you do and you are happy doing it.”
To explore business opportunities, link with Hazel Asignar by clicking on the 'Connect' button on her profile.
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