In this new normal, many businesses have moved towards digital channels in order to better serve their customers – and ultimately survive. Many have enlisted the help of online food delivery platforms, and small businesses have especially benefited from the added reach and exposure that these platforms provide. Some of these small shops have even gone on to become very successful ventures, inspiring countless other entrepreneurs.
Recognizing the potential of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) is leading online quick commerce platform foodpanda, which recently awarded its first-ever set of MSME Panda Local Heroes, which include home-based online shops and local mom-and-pop stores, showing outstanding performance and entrepreneurial skills amongst their community of partner vendors.
“The fact that they are contributing to the growth of their local economy and not just surviving, but thriving despite the challenges, already makes them heroes in their own right. So I believe that the award’s name is only fitting for these businesses,” says Hardik Batra, Commercial Director of foodpanda Philippines. “We’re glad to be their partners to help them along the way.”
The selected Panda Local Heroes offer a wide range of food choices, and their stories are as fascinating as their menu offerings.
The heart to serve
Hailing from Calumpang in the province of South Cotabato, Sheila’s Buko Halo offers fruity refreshments and desserts perfect for both the hot and cold weather. Owner Maria Fe Cenon recalls their journey towards opening their halo-halo business. “Nung una, ang tinda lang namin ay gulay at prutas hanggang sa naisipan na naming magtinda ng halo-halo at iba pang meryenda.”
A barangay official, she brought her passion to serve into the way she does business – by putting her heart into serving their customers. “Ang lagi kong bilin at turo sa mga staff ko, dapat malinis kayo mag-trabaho, approachable sa mga customers, at mabilis mag-serve ng orders lalo na kapag sa foodpanda.”
Within four months with the online quick commerce platform, Sheila’s Buko Halo was already among the top performing vendors nationwide. “Masarap sa pakiramdam na nagtiwala agad ang foodpanda na maging partner merchant kami kahit ‘di pa naman ganun kalago ang business namin noon. Simula nung nasa app na kami at nagpo-post na rin sa social media yung mga nag-order, mas lalo kami nakilala. Malaking tulong talaga ang foodpanda samin kaya kampante ako na lalago ang business ko with them as our partner.”
Danz Pelaez was one of the many freelancers who had to look for another way to make a living when the pandemic hit. “I was a freelance event photographer before. Alam namin na mawawalan na ng events dahil sa pandemic kaya nag-isip agad kami ng ibang mapagkakakitaan.”
With this move came the birth of Today’s Dine by TDF located at the heart of General Santos City, in Acharon Village. “Nagagamit ko pa rin yung skills ko as a photographer dahil ako rin kumukuha ng shots ng menu sa app.” And Danz indeed has an exceptional photography skill making their menu deliciously enticing to try and order.
“Para mag stand-out yung food na ino-offer mo, kailangan kakaiba, like yung spicy tuna sisig namin na kahit three months palang ay most popular order na agad.” Aside from this best seller, Today’s Dine by TDF also has chicken meals, silog meals, and rice meals in their long list of menu.
“Ang store namin, dito lang din sa bahay mismo at kami lang ng misis ko ang staff. Kaya we rely heavily on online orders lalo na sa foodpanda. Ever since nag-join ako bilang partner merchant, ito na yung naging main income ng family ko,” he added.
“Dapat lang talaga marunong dumiskarte. At ‘di ko rin nakakalimutan mag-share ng tips, advice at knowledge sa kapwa vendors para mag-succeed din sila.”
Championing the region’s local product
A Muslim dish native to people in Mindanao, “pastil” is made of rice and shredded indigenous mackerel or “pirit” fish wrapped in banana leaf. Capturing the hearts of foodies while preserving the Muslim food tradition is Pinutos Rice Pastel by Pritz Pono. “With determination and an innovative mindset, we were able to perfect this classic flavorful dish.”
“Bukod sa masarap at affordable, our ingredients are coming straight from the fish canneries in GenSan and chicken dressing plants in Davao, as a way to patronize the local produce in our region.”
“Ngayon na may presence na kami sa foodpanda app, sana mas makilala pa ang Pinutos Rice Pastel at mas maraming tao pa ang maka-try ng local dish namin dito sa Tagum City at sa Mindanao. With foodpanda’s reach, we’re hoping na makapag-branch out pa kami sa ibang areas,” Pritz said.
She is also very grateful for the recognition given by foodpanda to small local businesses like them. ”As a small food business, marami talagang challenges. Kaya yung award katulad nito, we feel that our efforts are valued and recognized.”
Perks of being a Panda Local Heroes Awardee
A total of 80 partner vendors were selected as Panda Local Heroes and they are set to enjoy exclusive perks and deals. They will bear a vendor ambassador pink tag on the app so they can easily be identified as a Panda Local Heroes Awardee, along with other special deals and discounts.
According to Batra, they are very proud of the achievements of their partner vendors. “foodpanda is honored to help small businesses during the pandemic and beyond. We also want our customers to have more options, and to try something new that will tickle their taste buds.”
“We continue to expand our footprint by partnering with local and smaller merchants in different areas in the Philippines. Through these partnerships, we are helping them earn additional revenue online and give them the necessary push to expand or become more well-known,” he adds.
Offering local Filipino dishes, cafe staples, snacks, comfort food, healthy food, and desserts from across the country, the awardees of the Panda Local Heroes were chosen for showcasing business and entrepreneurial excellence in the 2nd quarter of the year. Check here for the full list of winners.