Monday, October 14, 2013

Dalareich and her tableya dreams

Fresh off from her grand prize win in the first Young Women Entrepreneurs Bootcamp (YWEB)  in September 23-25 at the Bayview Park Hotel in Manila, we sat down with Dalareich Polot, the 25-year-old Boholana entrepreneur and namesake of their home-based family-run business venture, Dalareich Food Products, best known for their flagship native chocolate solids, tableya or tablija to us.

YWEB, organized by the Samahan ng mga Pilipina para sa Reporma at Kaunlaran (SPARK!) and the United States Embassy in Manila, is a “leadership and mentoring initiative that aims to help (young) Filipino women entrepreneurs expand their knowledge of business strategies and best business practices. YWEB offers a strategic and innovative approach to empower young women and give them the skills needed to scale up their businesses.

The three-day training included a business plan competition, where Dalareich, and the rest of the participants, presented their business plans to an audience that included not only the judges/mentors, but the other co-participants/co-competitors as well. Dalareich described the experience as both nerve-wracking and exhilarating. Most of all, she knew that she has more than accomplished the task, when at the end of her presentation, one of the judges ordered a sizeable number of Dalareich tableyas from her.

But the announcement that she has bested the 26 other fellows, thus won the coveted Grand Prize of US$5,000 for the best and most innovative business plan, drove her to tears of joy, disbelief, and more tears of elation.

Other winners Katrina Aniag (C&K Handicrafts) from Bulacan, Fatima Elijah Basar (Elijah’s Marketing) from Cotabato City, and Bernadette Manuel (Seon Kris Food Products Innovation) from Malimono, Surigao del Norte, also received US$1,000 each.

What was Dalareich's winning edge, we asked her.

"Besides, my business plan, which apparently impressed the judges, I think my story also helped. And the story behind Dalareich Food Products, our family’s struggles to build the business.
And of course, my being a Boholana helped a lot, especially the Chocolate Hills reference to our native chocolate solids (tableya)," Dalareich shared

(Dalareich and Dalareich Food Products was featured in an inspiring December article last year in The Bohol Chronicle's LifestyleBohol entitled Sikwate Stories, penned by Catherine Tejano. Dalareich, a computer engineer by profession is  an active member of the Bohol ICT Council. Afflicted with the rare hair loss condition herself, Dalareich volunteers for the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.)

A few highlights of her Young Women Entrepreneurs Bootcamp experience were the "constructive criticisms particularly on marketing and branding from judge/mentors, who were accomplished businesswomen themselves", which really made a lasting impression to the young Boholana. She added that their advices will help her in the direction-setting with Dalareich Food Products.

Dalareich shared that "meeting the other young women entrepreneurs from all over the country" was fun experience. "It allowed for business networking, and contacts for sourcing of supplies. We all learned from each other, I suppose."

"Oh, and meeting the U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas, Jr. That was definitely a highlight," Dalariech gushed.

So, what’s next for Dalareich Food Products?

The Dalareich brand of native chocolate rounds.
"The prize money will mostly be used for the business, of course. We plan to purchase a MultiCab for our transportation needs.  We are also looking at creating a dedicated chocolate factory for Dalareich Food Products in the very near future, hopefully", she said.

(As of now, Dalareich Food Product is a home-based business where the factory is at the back of the Polot House in Barangay Booy, this city.)

Dalareich adds, "Another plan is to setup a small kiosk/stall in the new shopping mall where hot and cold sikwate will be served, as with other native chocolate signature creations by Dalareich Food Products."

YWEB also emphasized social impact of the businesses, which syncs perfectly with Dalareich's advocacy in encouraging cacao farming in Bohol.

"There is a growing demand for cacao not only locally but worldwide. I think Boholano farmers should consider the chocolate market seriously. We are currently in negotiations with farmers in Lila for contract-growing. Hopefully, if this becomes successful, it’ll encourage more local farmers to grow cacao."

As to the young entrepreneur's advice to other young Boholana entrepreneurs, Dalareich has this to say.

"I always say this. Don’t be discouraged with whatever challenges that come your way. Just go, go, go!"

With that winning attitude, Dalareich Polot, a certified winning young woman entrepreneur, there’s no way to go, but up!

(A version of this article appeared in LifestyleBohol, The Bohol Chronicle on October 13, 2013)

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