5 Feb 2020, 12:30 — 7 min read
Enterprise: Session Groceries
Co-founder & CEO: Iloisa Romaraog
Industry: Agriculture & Agri Products
Year it was founded: 2018
Location: Quezon City, Philippines
Despite the significant role farmers play in the Philippine food security and economy, they still remain the poorest in the country facing many challenges. This is why Iloisa Romaraog, founder of Session Groceries, wants to change the game for farmers.
In 2018, when Benguet farmers were forced to throw away tons of vegetables due to oversupply, Romaraog stepped in and offered her online grocery store to farmers to help them sell their produce directly to consumers. With Session Groceries, farmers can fairly decide the price of their harvest. What started as an online grocery store, Session Groceries has found more meaning in doing business as they provide better access to market for farmers. In fact, they’ve sold 2.5 million worth of rice in a span of two months.
In conversation with GlobalLinker (GL), Iloisa Romaraog (IR) shares how she empowers and helps farmers through the Session Groceries online store. She also shares how she looks forward to seeing farmers being part of the millionaire’s club in the Philippines.
GL: How did you come up with your business idea?
IR: It’s always been my dream to have my own tech company. It started when we had a business like Honest Bee in Baguio City. From 2012 – 2016, I studied the market. I checked and observed if people are ready for online delivery.
When Typhoon Ompong hit Benguet, Session Groceries became a way to help the affected families. And when there was an oversupply of vegetables in 2018, we decided to help. That’s how Session Groceries started helping farmers.
GL: What’s your background before founding Session Groceries?
IR: I’ve had a breeding business, events planning, and I also tried my hand in the food business. My talent is more in innovation. In my previous company, we created systems that help our company.
GL: How did you deal with the challenges of running a business?
IR: It’s fun because you’re like doing a system out of norm, like it’s never done before, but you’re doing it. I also have to deal with the mentality of farmers. Sometimes some farmers will commit that they have certain products, but eventually we will find out that they don’t have them. Dealing with people is a challenge. Not everyone is aligned with your vision, so there are times we experience theft. Some of the vegetables that we have were stolen. What we do is that we stick to those people who follow the rules because we need to create a good system so the quality of our products will not get affected.
No amount of money can ever compensate when you know that you’re able to give hope to these farmers.
GL: How was your experience with the farmers?
IR: I’m happy to see our farmers getting empowered. It’s empowering because we are able to teach them how to sell their products. We have a farmer who has been selling broomsticks for the past 15 years. His house doesn’t have a furnished floor. Last August, he was able to buy and build a roof for his production. It happened because we taught him about proper pricing for his product. He now knows that he should not sell his product for a price lower than P200.
GL: What are some of your unforgettable experiences of working with farmers?
IR: When we created an event for farmers here in NCR (National Capital Region), you could feel that they are being valued that day. No amount of money can ever compensate when you know that you’re able to give hope to these farmers.
At first, they don’t believe me when I tell them that I can sell their products. But when you’re able to execute it, it lightens them up. They are now thinking of ways on how to earn and they now know that they don’t need to sell their products at a lower rate.
Also read: 4 things I've learned from running a social enterprise
GL: How was your bootstrapping experience?
IR: I believe that this project is given by the Lord. Whatever happens, He is still the one who will provide my needs every single day. I always believe that He will never forsake me. And true enough, there was never a point when I have had nothing at all. For example, today, I don’t have money for the company, but tomorrow I’ll have some.
Also read: Growth strategies for 2020: What you can learn from successful businesses
GL: What’s your tip for people who are raising capital for their business?
IR: You have to trust yourself and you have to study your market and business. It’s difficult if you don’t study the market. But don’t just study it, you might get paralyzed. You have to balance it. If you have an idea for a business, you have to study then take some action. You will never know unless you try.
GL: What’s next for Session Groceries?
ID: We hope to help more farmers to be rich two years from now and to have a farmers’ millionaire club. We do financial literacy training for them to prepare for that.
GL: What are the milestones of Session Groceries?
IR: We’ve sold 2.5 million worth of rice in a span of two months. Within the 9 months of our operations, we’ve had 16 million gross income that we’ve given to the farmers.
GL: What are your tips for aspiring entrepreneurs?
ID: Just do it. For us, we just didn’t think about how to do the business, but we also think about the ways on how to make the business sustainable for the community. It’s not going to be worthwhile being happy when you’re the only one who is rich. That’s why there are a lot of sad people today. They think that happiness is all about money, but when they reach that point, they will realize that it’s not the final destination. So start your venture and also have concern for your community.
Also read: 8 tips to promote your ecommerce site that are easy and proven to be effective
To explore business opportunities, link with Iloisa Romaraog by clicking on the 'Connect' button on her profile.
Disclaimer: This article is based solely on the inputs shared by the featured member. GlobalLinker does not necessarily endorse the views, opinions & facts stated by the members.
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