Building healthcare awareness & sustainable livelihoods in the Philippines, a Ginger Brew at a time
Lota Lazarte Manalo founded Ginga Agrifood in 2005 and created an all-natural food product - ginger brew, otherwise known as ‘salabat’ in her local language, tagalog.
Lota’s passion for cooking and experimenting with food led her to research the feasibility of brewing ginger brew as a business venture. Apart from helping to create more awareness of the health benefits of ginger brew, Lota started her business to support her local community and improve the livelihoods of young women. Through promoting agriculture, she hopes to combat the unstable prices of raw materials in the Philippines.
Through contract farming and partnerships with women in the community, Ginga Agrifood has helped create opportunities for sustainable livelihood. Through her leadership in the women’s group KASAMAKA in Lobo, Lota was able to convince women to plant raw materials like ginger and turmeric for her business.
With support from barangays, the local government units, her company was able to conduct seminars and training sessions for women farmers on where and how to plant, monitor, maintain and harvest crops. Equipping them with knowledge on the types of soil and methods of nurturing crops helps these farmers to navigate the long growth times of ginger and turmeric before harvesting. Being able to build a business from scratch has been a big achievement for Lota, and she is happy to help her community contribute to the local economy via the locale’s Food Security Program.
Having only started her company with one partner, her sister, expanding to over a hundred staff has been a milestone for Lota as building her business was not an easy process. Before solely being the CEO and president of the company, she helped with almost all aspects of her brand including the cooking, delivery, and marketing of her business. Lota also handled any challenges alone.
However, the acceptance of her mother’s proposal about Ginga Agrifood to a leading supermarket in 2008 helped to reinstate Lota’s sense of direction with regards to expanding her business. Growth was gradual, but she was slowly able to add more staff to facilitate new outlets of her company and better service her consumers.
Aside from maintaining the supply of raw materials, registering her products for food certifications and distributing them has also been a challenge. Lota constantly strives for growth and this manifests in the need to improve production facilities and logistics to comply with strict and rigorous food and safety standards.
Regardless of the obstacles, she continues to encourage women agripreneurs to work on causes that they are passionate about as starting a business requires dedication and effort. While there may be challenges, she says, taking risks is part of the process of learning and setbacks exist to make one feel stronger, with the subsequent rewards being worth the struggles endured.
Lota’s passion for food still motivates her aspirations and she is optimistic about exploring new product lines, with condiments and snacks already in the R&D stage. She aims to eventually create more products that use no sugars or artificial sweeteners to cater to health-conscious people. Through learning to garner more local and foreign investments and accounts, she hopes to export her products to other countries in the future and bring more awareness to the health benefits of her food products.