I am Nene T. Plamio, the founder of Nene Prime Foods. Winning Philippines Big Brother in 2005 may have led me to a successful initiation into show business, but the same cannot be said about the entrepreneurial world. After a few failed ventures, I struck gold in 2011 when I started selling Spanish-style Dagupan Bangus – milkfish cooked in olive oil with herbs and spices – at a local food bazaar. I completely sold out that year and in the subsequent years. Demand kept growing and in 2014, I decided to start selling Bangus in Olive Oil full-time and renamed my company Nene Prime Foods. Since then, I have expanded my range from one to seven products. In addition to Bangus, I also sell Pickled Chili, Tinapa (smoked fish) in Olive Oil, Tuyo Flakes in Olive Oil, Tuyo Flakes in Corn Oil, Chili Garlic, and Eight Spiced Tuyo (dried herring) in Corn Oil. For packaging, I use eco-friendly bags made by people with disabilities and native bags (bayong) made by local weavers from different parts of the Philippines like Quezon, Laguna and Bicol.
A functional Facebook page allowed her to continue selling online even during COVID-19.
I set up a Facebook page in 2015 to grow my business. In addition to not having to rely on brick-and-mortar locations, I saved time by automating regularly asked questions through the ‘instant reply’ feature on the page. Another marketing activity that I tapped into was running paid ads through my Facebook page and was never disappointed.
Nene spends her free time helping mompreneurs to grow their businesses.
However, nothing came easily to me. Upon starting out, it took me three months to get my business permit. I also had to speak with my neighbors to get their ‘blessing’ to be able to run my food-based business from home. The next hurdle was getting my network of moms trained in producing my food – in those early days, sometimes 16 out of 24 bottles were damaged or not up to par. To overcome this, I, along with my staff, attended training and seminars on food production and practices.
For packaging her products, she uses cardboard boxes made by people with disabilities.
I grew my staff from one to eight but COVID-19 hit. With lockdown restrictions, it was harder to coordinate supplies and to organize the delivery of my products. Sales dropped by up to 30% pre-COVID. I was keen on exporting my products but the pandemic put the pause on permits as well. I plan to get on to that once things further ease up. My aim is to encourage others, especially women, to do business and utilize raw materials that are available in the area and also to make people appreciate and see the beauty of Filipino-made products.