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How local chocolate producer Kakaw Galleon made business sweeter with help from PLDT and Smart

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The famous line from the 1994 hit movie Forrest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get” has been true so far for Isagani de Ocampo, owner and chocolatier of Kakaw Galleon.

De Ocampo began his career as a seafarer in 2009 and was trained as a Pastry Chef aboard cruise ships. This was followed by a chance to train under the esteemed Jean-Philippe Maury’s chocolate shop, honing Isagani’s skills under the guidance of masters.

But fate had different plans for the chocolatier. When the pandemic hit in 2020, Isagani belonged to the first batch of repatriated overseas Filipino workers. It was also this time when he started creating his own chocolate formula, dreaming of launching his own chocolate line in the Philippines.

“It was hard at first because our taste for chocolate is quite different. Filipinos prefer the “stateside” chocolate. So, I thought of making a local version of chocolate that tastes like it’s imported,” he shared. “I wanted to bring the technology and the taste that I learned from abroad closer to chocolate lovers here,” he added.

But starting the business in a pandemic was not easy. For one, he had to rent a separate place for his chocolate factory – which was not possible during the lockdown. De Ocampo had to put his business on hold for a year before he was able to launch his first product in November of 2021.

“It became a hit, and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) heard about it. They approached me and offered me help. I held my first bazaar with them in January of the next year and I introduced my product as a local ‘imported’ chocolate. And the rest is history,” he recalled.

To scale his business even further, Isagani saw the value of upskilling and learning how to employ digital tools to boost micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) like Kakaw Galleon. When the invitation to attend the eBizNovation program under the livelihood advocacy of PLDT and Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) came, he did not hesitate to join.

“I’m a non-tech savvy person. Technology and I don’t get along. But I saw the invite to the eBizNovation workshop of DTI and PLDT and Smart, so I attended the event. Then, when I returned home, I told my wife about it, and she volunteered to implement it,” de Ocampo said.

The eBizNovation program is a digital upskilling-to-ecommerce program that aims to provide local entrepreneurs, cooperatives, and MSMEs like Kakaw Galleon the right digital tools to help them grow their businesses online.

Together with government partners such as the DTI, LGUs, local chambers of commerce, and ecommerce platforms like TikTok Shop, eBizNovation trains local business owners like Isagani how to maximize digital commerce to boost their livelihood.

“The skills and knowledge we gained from PLDT and Smart’s eBizNovation training have helped us build our digital platforms and online payment system, and ultimately helped boost our online presence and sales. We are thankful for this opportunity,” the chocolatier shared.

PLDT and Smart are com-

mitted to uplifting the lives of Filipinos through livelihood and entrepreneurship opportunities made possible by technology. These initiatives also support the UN SDGs #1 No Poverty and #8 Decent Work and Economic Growth.  – BALIKAS News

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