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From ice candy vendors to millionaires: How to get rich with only P20

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How much does it take to become a millionaire? Ask ice candy vendors Rodolfo and Rosiell De Leon and they will tell you that all you need is P20.

However, if you asked the couple the same question back in 2011, they would probably have given a different answer.

Life was never easy for the De Leon family. Rodolfo and Rosiell were just college freshmen when they had their first baby. To support their child, the couple had to leave school and look for different ways to earn a living. Rodolfo did odd jobs while Rosiell became a housewife.

It was in 2011 when the De Leon family hit rock bottom. Rodolfo lost his job. The family's savings were not enough to pay for all the bills and to send the children to school. It came to a point when Rodolfo and his wife had to use charcoal to cook food because they could not pay for gas.

“Sanay kami magtipid. Ang problema namin, ‘yung mga anak namin. Hindi sanay na ‘yun lang ‘yung kakainin nila," Rodolfo recalls. "Bilang magulang, napakahirap na panoorin ‘yung anak namin yung nahihirapan."

All their bank accounts and wallets were empty, save for Rosiell's purse, which contained a humble P20 bill.

P20 may be a depressing amount of money especially if that is all you have but, believe it or not, this measly amount was all it took to turn the penniless husband and wife into the certified millionaires they are today.

Ice candies, not Lotto

Instead of borrowing money from friends or using their remaining P20 to make bets in the lottery, Rosiell decided that she wanted to start her own business.

It seemed like a crazy idea to others, but it was also the idea that made the most sense to her back then. "Sabi ko yelo muna since mahirap tayo and tubig lang naman ang kailangan. Plastic ang binili ko doon sa P20. Ginawa ko siyang 100 pieces na yelo."

Rosiell's ice business earned her P300, which she then used to buy ingredients to make ice candies. The couple recalls that their first customers were their own neighbors. They did not expect that their ice candies would be such a big hit.

When they realized that they were starting to earn P5,000 a week from selling ice candies to a peddler, the couple began to think that they might be able to do more with their new business.

The De Leon's started to distribute their products to sari-sari stores and schools. "Lahat ‘yan binibigyan namin ng styro. Minsan nade-decline kami pero ang iniisip lang namin is hindi kami puwedeng tumigil kasi meron kaming mga anak na dapat itaguyod," says Rodolfo.

The couple worked day and night and made sure that people would love their ice candies. They even came up with different flavors so that their customers would always have something new to look forward to. Their bestsellers? Watermelon, melon, avocado, banofee, black forest and tiramisu!

However, Rosiell remembers that not everything was easy. There were days when they would go out to look for sellers only to have their ice candies turned down.

"Huwag silang susuko. I-decline man sila, hindi naman lahat ‘yan, aayaw. Tsaka ang negosyo kasi hindi laging may kita. Kailangan lang nilang mag-tiyaga, magsikap," she says.

Rodolfo shares that it is always important to remember that business is not just about selling your products. "Alam namin ‘yung pakiramdam ng mga deprived kasi deprived din kami nung time ng kabataan namin," he says. "Nilalagay namin yung puso namin doon sa puso ng mga bata na parang gusto naming kumain ng masarap, wala kaming pera."

Secret to success

Four years later, Rodolfo and Rosiell can attest that hard work and perseverance do pay off. The couple now earns P15,000 per day or P450,000 per month, a huge leap from the daily P500 or the monthly P15,000 that they used to earn.

Their ice candy business also made it possible for the family to send their children to good schools, buy new cars, and build a new house.

What is the secret to Rodolfo and Rossiel's success?

Other than working really hard and not giving up, Rosiell believes that their ice candy business flourished because they did everything with a smile. "Gagawa ka ng masarap na pagkain dapat masaya ka. Hindi ka galit, hindi ka stressed."

Rodolfo adds that their business became a success because they knew how to take risks. "Dapat malakas ‘yung loob mo kasi kapag mahina ‘yung loob mo, wala nang mangyayari doon sa negosyong papasukin mo."

This same optimism, risk, and persistence were the reasons why the couple now has 40 ice candy refrigerators strategically placed inside schools in Antipolo. They also managed to convert their old house into a small ice candy factory to meet the demands of their customers.

"Ang gusto ko lang talaga noon ay makatawid kami sa pang-araw-araw namin, matustusan ‘yung mga bata sa pag-aaral nila. Hindi ko inimagine na magiging ganito," Rosiell admits.

Rodolfo and Rossiel's story proves that a big capital is not necessary to start a successful business. With imagination, resourcefulness and hard work, anyone can be millionaires with just P20.

Rodolfo says, "Naging sandigan namin ‘yun na lahat ng bagay, nagsisimula sa maliit lang. Walang nanaginip ka na bukas mayaman ka na. Lahat ‘yun, pinagpaguran naming mag-asawa."—Lara Gonzales/BMS
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