Making life sweet for carabao farmers:
RIPPLES ICE CREAM
Eleazar O. Carmen hails from a family of farmers. His parents are into rice and integrated vegetable farming on a parcel of land which they tend to as tenants. Carmen grew up in a simple farm life, wherein his parents often budgeted their resources for all eleven of them in the family. Their priority is to send their children to school, believing that education is the key to alleviate their social and economic status.
Poverty did not hinder Carmen from pursuing education. He took up Bachelor of Science in Packaging Engineering at the Central Philippine University. During that time, his sister supported him by paying for his tuition fee and other school expenses. To lessen the family’s expenses, Carmen was blessed with several scholarships.
After graduation, he was hired as a production supervisor in a prestigious company in Valenzuela City. He was later promoted as Operations Head in its group of companies.
Just when the outbreak of COVID-19 started, Carmen had a vacation in Iloilo last March 2020. It made him decide to stay in Iloilo and pursue business.
Keeping it cool and sweet
Without any knowledge of making ice cream, Carmen did more research on machine operations, ingredients, tips and considerations, and standard operating procedures involving permits and licenses. With further product developments and customers’ surveys, he came up with a secret mix of ingredients that complemented together to create “a one-of-a-kind touch of heaven in every taste”; this would later on become his brand’s tagline.
By the Lord’s grace, Ripples Ice Cream was established to support carabao raisers by providing them with an avenue to market their produce. Likewise, Carmen also established his market to make the business sustainable. He partnered with local sari-sari stores and cooperatives around the area for distribution, advertising, and product development by adding more flavors and variety to the market. Ripples Ice Cream was launched in digital marketing through Facebook and Instagram to increase its reach and engagement.
With the excitement of starting a new business, God made him realize that all things must be done for His glory. Carmen believes that He is slowly showing him the blueprint of His plans for his life. He turned his depression into a success story to inspire others and to motivate them to trust the Lord in every step of their lives.
One of the setbacks encountered by Ripples Ice Cream was the lack of funds. It only started to produce ice creams in January 2021 in his aunt’s kitchen. The kitchen was turned into a semi-processing room and was sanitized for food production. Additional funding for its operations was needed.
Sprinkled with a multitude of achievements
Ripples Ice Cream joined the BPI Sinag Spark Business Challenge 2021, in partnership with Bayan Academy, to seek more funding. It became one of the top 60 in the National Level. It was also submitted to an international competition for sustainable foods by the Food and Agriculture Organization, where it was declared a finalist.
The Young Farmers Challenge Fund (YFCF) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) also opened its doors for Ripples Ice Cream to showcase its business model. It took one of the spots in the top 60 of the Provincial Level and received a Php 50,000 grant for project implementation. The expansion of Ripples Ice Cream made of carabao’s milk became an avenue to introduce carabao dairy to the panel of judges as well as to the region as part of innovation and product development. The grant will be used to construct a processing room for Ripples Ice Cream, where its machine and other equipment should have a safer environment for production.
Ripples Ice Cream also garnered a spot in the top three best enterprises in the Western Visayas Region with the business model canvas, video presentation, and pitching during the YFCF Regional Level Competition. With an additional grant amounting to Php 150,000, Ripples Ice Cream can add another machine to increase production and improve the supply-and-demand relationship in the market. Through this, the scaling up of the enterprise is expected not only to increase production and market, but also increase the demand for fresh milk from carabao dairy farmers, assuring them that there is a market for their produce.
Though some of the farmers raising carabaos are hesitant to embrace the programs and projects of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) due to the limited market, this enterprise can assure them that there is a sustainable market for them. Carabao raisers can be assured that there is an income-generating livelihood waiting for them and giving value to the country’s national animal.
As Ripples Ice Cream advanced to the National Level, representing Region VI, it bears the banner of carabao raisers.
The cherry on top
In partnership with the programs of the DA, through the PCC, it hopes to garner additional funding to procure a delivery vehicle to improve its logistics. It is the Lord’s ways that would prevail; but with a heart to continue the cause, Carmen has started initial talks with the Municipal Agriculturist of Badiangan, Panay to prioritize the improvement of the carabao dairy project in the municipality as one of their key programs in 2022.
Ripples Ice Cream is just starting, but Carmen believes that with perseverance, there will always be a reward. As Jeremiah 29:11 says, “Call unto me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things which you have not known.” ###