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Reaching for the star: This small-scale enterprise seizes dream in the midst of pandemic

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StarKaffea Corporation continues to overcome untold hurdles amidst the ongoing pandemic and persistent inflation

By Monsi A. Serrano

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines, more than 50 percent of the MSMEs have closed down and there was a dreadful forecast that millions of jobs are to be lost by end of 2020.

Sadly back then when COVID was unstoppable and vaccines were not yet available, there is no denying that it has disrupted our lives not to mention the anxiety it caused to our health and safety concerns coupled with economic and income uncertainties weighed down every Juan and Juana, setting back a broad spectrum of businesses.

While many amongst us have already thrown in the towel, seemingly stuck in the fatalistic outlook. The real challenge, though, is for us to take on an action plan that anticipates the worst and prepares us for it.

Having a defeatist attitude was not helpful. But a need for a strong mindset that treads against the worst-case scenario is what Filipino resiliency is all about. This is the inspiring story of Starkaffea Corporation, when they showed the value of persistence and resiliency, and reach for the star.

As a thriving SME, Starkaffea Corporation earns a niche in the beverage industry.  

No less than Ms. Cheng Pabilonia, Starkaffea Corporation’s CEO, revealed the challenges the company encountered but at the same time, they successfully navigated through the hurdles before them and managed to sign up with more than 100 new store partner distributors and finalized export transactions with a Singapore distributor for its signature healthy coffee company.

Cheng Pabilonia, CEO of Starkaffea Corporation

“Our sales dropped by about 36% in 2020 versus our 2019 sales but government agencies such as the Departments of Trade and Industry and Agriculture provided the much-needed support to bridge their economic situation”, she said.

Digital Transformation Adaption

While used to the traditional way of person-to-person or business-to-business transactions with buyers and business partners, the CEO of StarKaffea Corporation realized the need to utilize readily available digital platforms to thrive in her business.

Hence, the adaption of digital marketing platforms and embarkment on a social media campaign during the pandemic were empirical to optimize their sales, widen the market and tap a broader market.

Pabilonia attributed the survival of the enterprise to her staff who are committed to providing a healthy alternative coffee and chocolate drink to the Filipinos. 

The Birth of Chocolea

“We have always wanted to provide our patrons with quality alternative healthy products. Other than coffee, Starkaffea is proud to introduce Chocolea, the first chocolate drink using coconut sugar in the Philippines”. 

Proudly-Philippine made, Chocolea has to undergo a total of 50-trial formulations to ensure that it has the quality ingredients that best suit the Filipino taste buds. 

Each chocolate goodness is best consumed by kids who are aged four years old and above. But Chocolea is also good for parents and even grandparents. There is no limit to chocolate wellness! 

As Chocolea has coconut sugar, its signature sweetener, it helps regulate blood sugar levels and blood pressure and is rich in calcium and potassium. It also helps manage diabetes and boosts the immune system. Each cup of Chocolea is fortified with Vitamins A, C, calcium and iron. This chocolate drink is now available in select supermarkets, DTI Go Lokal stores and through Fintech companies such as Shoppee and Lazada. It will soon be distributed through export partnerships of DTI-Ka local projects and is getting ready for its global expansion.

Pabilonia said that Starkaffea Corporation would in the meantime focus on the recovery and growth in its domestic transactions. “We would endeavor to look for opportunities on how our products such as Kaffea and Chocolea can be made available to our OFW heroes and their families. We remain true to our commitment to provide an alternative healthy product that will promote a healthy lifestyle and advance the quality of life of our consumers”. 

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