Young women entrepreneurs in Puerto Princesa City who have been affected by the coronavirus disease pandemic have found a way to turn their misfortune into opportunity in unconventional coffee pop-up retail.
The coffee pop-up is a straight up business of delivering cold brews and hot drinks from roasted and ground seeds close to where caffeine aficionados are, most often in open spaces on major streets for a limited period of time.
Young entrepreneur Micah Tam-Od, an occupational therapist who recently returned from Canada, said it is the business of selling coffee without costly overheads. COVID-19 has hit everyone hard, and opening coffee shops can be expensive, but it is her dream to set up one.
Micah is not new to the coffee business as she has been a beans supplier since 2018 to small cafes in the city. She went home and established her clinic in September, but like all other businesses, it was affected too by the pandemic.
“Gusto ko talaga magbenta ng kape kasi nagbebenta na ako ng coffee beans. Since nagkaroon ng pandemic, hindi siya enough, bumaba rin yong benta namin. Bumalik na kasi ako dito galing ako ng Canada, tapos nag-Manila. Pagdating ko dito nag-start ako ng clinic tapos at the same time, gusto ko sana na ayusin ‘yong coffee business namin,” Micah said.
“Since kaka-start ko lang ng clinic, wala pa rin akong enough funds to open a coffee shop. Naisip ko na what if magbenta lang ng kape, somewhere, anywhere, mobile — kasi marami akong nakikita abroad. Nag-plan ako, what if isama ko sila — yong mga relatives,” she added.
Micah asked her cousin Anjenette Malia, who sells different delicacies and goodies, to join her in starting her coffee pop-up business on October 16.
After a few days of successful opening, Amielyn, Anjanette’s sister who is currently a college student, also joined their coffee pop-up.
Micah said they all maximized their skills, preparing light food they could offer with their coffee brews mainly to bikers and joggers, their target markets.
Micah said they are their preferred clients as both her parents are bikers.
“Basically, nag-start talaga ito dahil sa pandemic, nawalan si Anj ng job, petroleum engineer siya sa Clark. The same with me, na-postpone yong licensing ko sa Canada so, umuwi ako rito. Nag-isip kami ng way na what can we do? Hindi pa tayo maka-go back sa job talaga natin,” she said.
Micah and her cousins’ coffee pop-up schedule is early in the morning, Tuesday to Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. at the city bay walk area. Every Saturday and Sunday, they set up along Kilometer 19 in Barangay Bacungan for their biker and jogger clients.
The coffee pop-up concept opportunity
Micah said that there is a huge opportunity for this business idea in Puerto Princesa, given the number of local coffee enthusiasts. She said that it is not a business alone for them but also something that brings them joy and fulfillment.
“Malaking opportunity lalo na dito sa atin dahil maraming active na tao, sobrang dami ng bikers, runners, at the same time, sobrang dami ng coffee lovers,” she said.
“Nakita namin na may potential ang business. At the same time ay nag-i-enjoy lang din kasi kami on what we do. Parang kung what time lang kami puwede,” Micah added.
On their first day, Micah said they only earned P200. But it was okay because the joy they got from the experience was something money cannot buy.
They used it as their motivation to see what they can improve, particularly on presence and visibility, to increase sales.
When they set up along the national road in Bacungan, it was the break they were waiting for their entrepreneurship project.
“Noong Sunday, doon namin na-receive yong ganoong support kasi talagang pipila sila to get their coffee, papa-picture sila, maraming compliments. Nag-start, actually, na meron si Bruno Photography na na-i-post sa Facebook. Iyon ang unang nag-catch ng attention ng mga tao, dumami shares, nagulat kami,” she said.
Micah is positive that this coffee selling concept will also become a factor in the increase in demand for coffee beans supply in the local market.
She said she has no problem if there will be other entrepreneurs who would establish the same concept they did.
Recently, Palawan News also featured Adrian Parcon with his coffee cub idea inspired by a businessman in Thailand. He uses his classic motorcycle selling hot and cold Dalgona coffee in different road spots in the city.
“Sabi nga namin, what if may gumaya? Well, it’s okay kasi pare-parehas tayo na kailangan kumita lalo na ngayon. Naisip nga namin what if si kuya Dalgona katabi natin? Lahat tayo may coffee, masaya ‘yon. Ang maganda rin kasi dito ay nagkakaroon ng awareness ang mga tao na may mga local coffee tayo,” she said.
She said that their group uses coffee beans from Sagada, Kalinga, Benguet, Cavite and will soon offer Langogan coffee as they are working on introducing local coffee to their customers. They are serving brewed coffee for P50 and ice choco drink for P70.
Due to their exposure online, their group was encouraged to come up with a business name. Their group thought that the meaning of “Hiraya Manawari” also reflects the vision of their business.
The Filipino words which mean “may your visions come true”, is true to life to Micah and her cousins as it made them believe in hope and in working hard to reach their dreams, she said.
“The time kasi na nag-iisip kami ng Tagalog na name kasi mas approachable and at the same time, Filipino tayo. Nagsi-search lang kami na magre-resonate ng mission and vision namin sa business na ito. Noong nakita namin, ang ganda kasi nag-start tayo na parang sobrang nagpa-plan tayo na hindi natin alam ang mangyayari,” she said.
Learning the essence of time
Anjenette said that it is also a struggle on their part to prepare early in the morning as they need to leave their houses before 5 a.m.
She said one thing they learned in operating this business is the value of time.
“Kasi ang nagba-bike, ang aga rin nila, iyon talaga ang hinahabol namin. Sa experience namin, natutunan namin ang value ng time talaga. Kasi once na na-late na kami, maraming nakaalis na, hindi na namin maaabutan ang customer. Kailangan strict talaga sa time,” she said.
Anjenette said that they consider their pop up business as a stepping stone to reach their dream of establishing their own coffee shop.
It is also an opportunity for them to expose their different business lines such as her food business where her skill came from the free time she had during the quarantine, and Micah’s coffee beans supply.
On the other hand, Micah said that like what they did, any aspiring entrepreneurs in the city must put their ideas into action to make them happen. She encouraged them to believe in their selves, their skills, and to surround themselves with people who would encourage them to do what they want.
“Actually, kasi mostly, yong gusto mag-business, hindi lang kami yong nakaisip ng ginagawa namin ngayon. Malamang sa malamang, marami nag-isip na kahit mobile coffee cart or any type of business. Kung naniniwala ka naman sa produkto mo, naniniwala ka rin sa skill mo, try mo lang kasi hindi mo naman malalaman kung ‘di mo ita-try, kung hihintayin mo lang, meron at meron mauuna sa’yo,” she said.