Sweet Returns Of Hard Work
Parting with a valued property is not easy. But this became an option to Dina Lava, 62, of Brgy. Aduas, Cabanatuan City. In 1989, she sold a much-loved Volkswagen for P36,000 and pursue her dream- sweets and pastry making business. The proceeds from the same became her initial capital.

From the said amount, Dina used the P20,000 to buy a microwave oven and other needed equipment to pursue the business she wants. The rest of the amount was used to help her relatives who needs financial assistance at that time.

Dina also engaged herself in other business pursuits like selling ready-to-wear clothes (RTW), slippers and peanuts. However, all these ventures did not yield good returns.

Like many other successful entrepreneurs, Dina started small. Having only a basket and a tray, she went to different government offices within the city to sell her products. Some of these included pastillas, polvoron, and boat tarts.

She started making 300 pieces of self-made pastries every day. Because of its distinct taste, it has become a hit among her regular customers. Thus, she increased her production because the demand also increased.

Later on, she expanded her market and added other products like rellenong bangus, embutido, siomai, lumpiang shanghai, as well as desserts like leche flan and ube halaya. She delivered her products to schools and bakeries.

When the first shopping mall in Nueva Ecija started its operation, Dina requested the owner of the mall if she can sell and display her products. Confident that she will never go wrong, the establishment became a venue to market her products.

“I have been a regular supplier of sweets and pastries to NE Mall for seven years,” recalls Dina. This opportunity leads her business to the height of success. Being known in the community that she is selling lumpiang shanghai, rellenong bangus, siomai and others, the catering request came unexpectedly. Dina received an offer from a town mayor to provide food service for 300 participants in one of the town's events.

"I rented food warmer and a vehicle because I didn’t have resources at that time. I only made sure that I was able to provide quality service to the participants," shares Dina.

If the first attempt did not yield substantial earnings, her perseverance as a businesswoman paid off.

In Dina’s case, success being 100 percent perspiration is a reality.

Her four children are already successful in their respective fields. One is a graduate of Commerce, another finished Hotel and Restaurant Management (HRM) course, the other one finished Accountancy, and the youngest is a Nursing graduate.

The HRM and Accountancy graduates are assisting her in their business. "Our collective efforts made this business a success," she added.

As the business grew, Dina is aware that she needs additional capital to continuously run and expand the catering business. And this is how she was introduced to Alalay Sa Kaunlaran, Inc. (ASKI).

Back in the late 80’s, she sought the assistance of ASKI to provide her P10,000 additional capital for her business venture. The amount has gone a long way. Dina was able to purchase service vehicles for her business: four mini-trucks, one L-300 van, one car, and two tricycles.

Because of her success, ASKI endorsed her daughter Barbie to a training sponsored by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women that provides business and management education to underserved female entrepreneurs in developing and emerging markets.

Right now, Dina invested in the construction of a 700-square meter function hall which she offers to her clients whenever they need a venue for their events. ASKI assisted her financially in constructing the said hall. Not only that, ASKI also refers Dina to other people who need catering services. Likewise, meetings, anniversaries and Christmas parties were handled by Dina's catering.

"I am thankful to ASKI for linking my business to other clients. Our catering service now reaches Zambales, Pampanga and Bulacan," Dina said.

More than the material things that she gained, Dina was able to develop her self-confidence. She can now deal with top government officials like mayors, and governors as well as high profile private individuals.

Her business also contributed to the job creation in the community. Dina employs 15 regular staff and the others were on-call basis depending on the bulk of the catering request.

She is also actively involved in different organizations like the Family Life Apostolate, Brotherhood Christian Businessman and Professional (BCBP) and the Nueva Ecija Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NECCI).

In 2003, her efforts were recognized by the Department of Trade and Industry- Nueva Ecija (DTI-NE) and NECCI as she was awarded as the Most Outstanding Businesswoman in Nueva Ecija.

Asked what characteristics that a person must have to achieve success, Dina has this to say, "In everything we do, we should trust our Lord. We need to persevere. We should provide quality service to our customers to gain their trust, and be creative in marketing your products."

To improve further the market of her products, Dina participated in trade fairs inside and outside the province as part of her promotional strategy. Today, she is now managing a canteen and regularly supplies sweets and pastries in many convenience stores in several towns of Nueva Ecija.

After all the hardships that she went through, Dina is now reaping the sweet returns of her hard work as she continuously make her products and services of good quality and at reasonable prices.
"In everything we do, we should trust our Lord. We need to persevere. We should provide quality service to our customers to gain their trust, and be creative in marketing your products"
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