21 Aug 2020, 17:00 — 6 min read
As a woman I have instilled myself a few roles in my life: a caring mother, a loving wife, a God fearing daughter, a passionate innovator, and a determined entrepreneur with a heart.
Ever since I was young, I have always had a business-minded approach in life, which I could probably attribute to my experience as a storekeeper for our family’s small sari-sari store on weekends during my childhood and teenage years.
Coming from a poor family, I had to learn to make ends meet at a young age. That is why when I was in college, I turned to arranging and selling flowers, and would sometimes take up catering gigs just to pay for my tuition and other miscellaneous fees.
Life wasn’t easy back then but somehow, I always got through every challenge life has thrown to me. I just always kept a positive attitude and chose to look at the good in every situation.
In February 2001, I got married into this ‘chocolate family’, the Belviz, and handled the processing side of my husband’s family business while my other half continued managing the farms.
Since that time, my love for food processing and my husband’s love for farming became my passion to continue what their family has started.
My father-in-law, Mr. Severino C. Belviz, was working as a Plantation Manager of Davao Fruits Corporation for 26 years, managing cacao plantations and was a pioneer in planting cacao in Davao City. On his own farm, way back in 1978 when my husband was born, he planted 6,000 cacao seedlings to commemorate the birth of his son.
The family has been in the business of cacao processing, making only tablea since the early 1980s. But due to lack of technical know-how, they have not improved their cacao processing more so in creating other cacao products. They tried to make chocolate bars before, but it was not successful. So, they stopped the tablea processing, and focused on producing raw fermented cacao beans.
Our family is into farming of fruit trees like durian, pomelo, mangosteen and cacao, and we usually sell them as fresh produce. But then the production rate of fresh fruits exceeded our expectations and a lot of the produce were being wasted, so instead of lessening our production, we took it as an opportunity for value adding to our fruits through processing.
For 18 years, I have established and managed Rosarios Delicacies. At first, we only produce processed durian products such as durian candy, frozen durian and durian jam. As time passed by, we started processing langka, mangosteen, marang and other fruits produced in the farm.
We chose to live our life continuing the passion, the love, and the legacy my father-in-law started when he built this company, hoping to help those who have difficulties just as I did when I was younger.
But due to the high seasonality of durian, fruiting only for three months in a year, we started to intercrop more cacao under the durian trees. With this, we began to pick up cacao processing again, producing tablea using the traditional fermentation techniques and principles that my father in-law taught us. I have tried many times to create, innovate, and develop products made from cacao into chocolate candies but to no avail.
That is, until in 2015, I was accepted as a scholar in Ughent, Belgium to attend a workshop about Cocoa and Chocolate processing. Due to this prestigious opportunity, I was able to improve our production, using the newfound knowledge and experience to process cacao into tree to bar chocolate bars, cacao nibs, butter, powder and others.
Because cacao is available almost all year round, during the off-season period of durian, Rosarios Delicacies can continue its production by processing cacao products. And as the value of processed cacao is significantly higher as compared to selling it as a raw commodity, the company was able to maintain continuous cash flow and guaranteed the employment of our personnel.
Aside from providing jobs, and buying raw materials from small-time farmers, we also hold educational field trips for students and visitors in our farms and our processing plant, as well as teach other farmers and food processors our knowledge when it comes to adding value to raw materials and how to process cacao.
Though still small, we hope to expand our company and maximize the potential of our farm, our factory, and our workers. All of this in the hope of providing better benefits, better opportunities, and an all-around better life for all our stakeholders and even others in our community.
I’ve come a long way since then, but I will never forget my past hardships because those experiences made me the entrepreneur I am today. Now, I’m managing my family’s food processing factory alongside my business/life partner, and I am no longer making ends meet on my own. We chose to live our life continuing the passion, the love, and the legacy my father-in-law started when he built this company, hoping to help those who have difficulties just as I did when I was younger.
To find out more about Mary Grace’s products, you can visit her online store here (rosariodelicacies.linker.store) Buy local; support women-led enterprise!
To explore business opportunities, link with Mary Grace Belviz by clicking on the 'Connect' button on her profile.
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