By William Chan
Guimaras has been famous for its sweet mangoes nationwide for decades. Thus, I feel really grateful to have a chance to consult a mango-related business on this island.
Edmar Fresh Fruits & Delicacies was established by Eda and her husband. Other than fresh mangoes, they have also self-grown cashew nuts as well as processed food of mangoes, such as mango jam, mango ketchup and dried mangoes of other manufacturers for sale at their little shop house. Eda also owns a ‘restaurant’ on the island – which is just right inside the retail shop just offering mango shakes.
It is just like entering the paradise of mangoes when we visit the shop. From fresh mangoes to dried mangoes, from mango piyaya to mango ketchup (?!), they offers most of the mango products that we have seen on the island, placed neatly on the shelfs facing the main road of San Miguel. I just can’t wait to shop in Eda’s store for buying souvenirs back to Hong Kong on the last day!
Outlook of Edmar Fresh Fruits & Delicacies
Serving us with fresh mangoes and mango shakes, Eda started the conversation with us about her family. Before actually initiating her own business selling mangoes in Guimaras 3 years ago, Eda used to be a domestic worker in Hong Kong. The household where Eda used to serve is in the same district where I live, in Tsuen Wan. What a small world it is!
Fresh mangos and large variety of processed mango products being displayed in front of Eda’s shop house.
Eda runs her business as a wholesaler and retailer. Other than self-grown mangoes, she also buys mangoes from other local farmers. And then she will resell the mango at a higher rate to the customers. The shop has low labor cost as most of her kids and family members do help out at the shop. Although there was just a small amount of customers visiting the store on the weekdays, the large amount of mangoes in each purchase has made the business profitable. The profit made was just enough for covering living expenses of the family. At the time when I was conducting research in the shop, there was even Chinese and Korean tourists visiting her shop by tricycle. Other than retailing to passersby, Eda ship her mangoes to the capital city Manila for her long term customers who have tried her mangoes on the island before. Eda will also join in trade fairs in the city. There will be one in the SM City from 20/6 onwards which Eda will participate in, promoting her mangoes in the Iloilo city.
My partner Kate and I visiting the mango farm with Eda
On another day, Eda brought us to visit the farm. The farm is actually managed by the government. Other than those tall mango trees hanging ripped mangoes of different kind, there is also facilities for research and development of mango harvesting, as well as farmers’ education centre. I have never realized that there are so many key attributes that contributes and determines the successfulness of mango crops until studying the contents on the signboards outside the institute.
Display broads introducing different types of mango beside the research center in the farm
Yet when developing plans for innovating her business, we have figured out several constraints. The most determining ones will be financial constraint. As there is a lack of capital for investment of further developing her own business, Eda will need to borrow interest-free loans from the local government if she want to buy equipment or machines for enhancing productivity. Thus, it’s ‘mission impossible’ for Eda neither to increase the yield in a large extend, nor to improve the packaging of mango and nut products.
Labor productivity is another factor we’ve pay so much attention on. As the workers in the shop are mostly family members especially kids, productivity can be lowered. Together with the lack of land supply (like Hong Kong!) for growing mangoes, supply of mangoes cannot really satisfy the demand for mangoes. For most of the time, Eda said, mangoes are sold out in the island, making no vacancies for export to the capital, which there is also an unbeatable demand for mangoes.
Other than that, mango growing is kind of natural process and can be seriously affected by the weather. For instance, the adverse weather condition last year has made the amount of mango crops dropped by almost 50%. Thus the mango business of Eda heavily relies on the income on peak season of mango harvesting, which is from March to May each year.
To help elevate Eda’s business to a new level, we have to actually restore to the basic step – making good use of records and promoting the importance of record keeping. Though Eda has written up transaction details in log books, the readability is rather low. Thus Eda seldom summarize and calculate her profit for business. We have decided to teach her some basic skills of listing out financial statements as what we’ve learnt from the accounting class. Together with technology usage (while Eda does have a computer), we believe that records can be kept and retrieved much more easier for summarization.
On top of that, we have released that there were competitions of competitors just behind Eda’s store – there are a few more shops selling mangoes. To make Eda’s products more outstanding, we will help making some advertising signs for her shop, featuring the mango products. We have also brought a mini LED signboard for arousing passersby’s interest. We will also help developing and differentiating Edmar’s existing product line by trial introduction of new mango product. We believe that these little efforts can accumulate to an extent of profit growth in her business.
Eda was really amased by the fancy LED signboard showing her own advertising message. ‘It’s just like those I saw on the trains when I was in Hong Kong, ‘ Eda said.
Looking at Eda’s fruit stand, I have realized the similarities between running a small business and a startup – they all face challenges of sustainability and scarified resources. Startup business were mostly set up by the university graduates nowadays. Yet recent studies have shown that only a handful of startups survived for at least 3 years since their establishment. Helping Eda in innovating and improving her business model and strategies is indeed helping ourselves to breakthrough and overcome the constraints that we may face when running our own businesses or startup companies in the future.