From Model OFW Family to Inspiring Entrepreneur

DAET, Camarines Norte (PIA) — “Dream big and start small” is the motto of Bicolana entrepreneur Emilyn Labor who started her business on the production of vegetable chips in Camarines Norte.

She is one of the 24 awardees in “Inspiring Filipina Entrepreneurs” during the “Go Negosyo Women Summit 2024” where she represented the Bicol region.

Labor was also awarded as one of the nine 2024 Outstanding Women of Camarines Norte by the provincial government here.

In 2017, Labor immersed herself in a series of seminars and training sessions aimed at enhancing her entrepreneurial skills. One of these is the Skills Training on Fruits and Vegetable Chips Making of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

“After the training, I decided to try what I have learned, since the trend today is healthy, vegetable chips are nutritious as an alternative to junk foods that children may like,” she said.

Labor started with P2,000 as initial capital and embarked on the journey of business ownership where she bought a mixer, grinder and ingredients while the malunggay were harvested from her backyard.

She brought the vegetable chips flavored with malunggay in one of the “pasalubong stores” in Daet downtown. After this, she immediately received orders from the store and produced more using a variety of vegetables as flavors.

Emilyn Labor (center) with her husband and daughter during the awarding of Outstanding Women of Camarines Norte this year. (Photo contributed by Emilyn Labor)

Labor, 50, and a mother of one graduated with a management degree. Before the inception of Jireh Food Products (JFP), she was a social welfare assistant for four years. Her husband previously worked as a welding inspector in Saudi Arabia.

When her husband returned due to financial trouble in 2016, she turned to online selling to cope with the economic downturn, using her savings and later sought help from government agencies to secure the family’s future.

When she just started she produced vegetable chips with no machinery or “mano-mano” (using her hands) with no helper, then later her husband saw the opportunity and supported her and worked as a production manager.

They won second place in the Model OFW Family of the Year Awards given by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration in Bicol on September 30, 2018.

The Jireh Food Products (JFP) features delightful options including nutrient-rich vegetable chips with 10 enticing flavors including squash, carrots, tomato, lady finger, malunggay, bitter gourd, fern, water spinach, mix and match and the newest is coconut crunch. (Photo contributed by Emilyn Labor)

Through her business, Labor not only brought her husband back home but elevated their business from a modest P2,000 starting capital in 2017 to an impressive monthly gross sale of P600,000 to P800,000.

“I will not become rich because I help women farmers, they plant the vegetables and I’m buying their agricultural products,” she said.

Labor organized her vegetable supplier into an association named “The Helping Hands Community Association.” The association is composed of 30 women and she planned to formalize the association into a cooperative.

The members and suppliers of vegetables also served as helpers in the production, she said.

“There is a profit sharing every end of the year so I will not become richer because I am the channel of God’s blessing,” she said.

Presently, JFP is dedicated to providing a diverse range of healthy and cost-effective offerings.

The products feature delightful options including nutrient-rich vegetable chips with 10 enticing flavors such as squash, carrots, tomato, lady finger, malunggay, bitter gourd, fern, water spinach, mix and match and the newest is coconut crunch.

Her flagship products are vegetable chips which she later added pili nuts (dehydrated, sweetened etc.), coconut flour, coco jam, banana chips,  pure honey, malunggay powder, turmeric powder and cookies.

Labor’s brand is “Unica,” referring to her only daughter. The products are marketed through Facebook Page, Shoppee, Lazada, Tiktok and

Emilyn Labor is one of the 24 awardees in “Inspiring Filipina Entrepreneurs” during the Go Negosyo Women Summit 2024 where she represented the Bicol region. (Photo contributed by Emilyn Labor)

Government interventions

Labor explored deeper into entrepreneurship through the Seminar on Starting Your Business of the DTI.

Other assistance provided to her includes loan facilitation, network linkages to suppliers, buyers and other stakeholders, and opportunities to showcase products through trade fairs expanding their market reach.

“My marketing is good because of the DTI, who included me to showcase my products in the trade fairs like in Mega Mall and World Trade Center where I encountered big buyers,” she said.

In 2018, Labor joined the Kapatid Mentor ME (KMME) Program of the DTI, Provincial Director Christy Rivera said.

“KMME taught me that in business we have to set our mind for its success, to develop our talent and keep on innovation and put our passion into it and to give time in the business,” Labor said.

She also learned that human resources are big assets of a business, “so have time to develop and train them and just like what we do, consider them as a family.”

Product development is also a big tool to make our products competitive in the market as she experienced and applied it.

She said her production started to grow when she availed a loan of P230,000 from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) – Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SET-UP).

The loan provides her with machinery for her vegetable production which eventually yields more vegetable chips products.

Labor achieved 5th place in the Best Product Competition during the 14th Agriculture and Fisheries Technology Forum and Product Exhibition on September 2, 2018. She received a plaque of recognition and P2.1 million worth of equipment, seminars and training.

She said that the amount was doubled to P2 million during the process.

“The equipment was much bigger and because of this, my vegetable chips production and other products grew faster.”

In February of this year, DA Bureau of Agricultural Research

Director Junel Soriano visited her production area and later her request for P2 million worth for the production factory was approved. (PIA 5/Camarines Norte)

Emily Labor at her Jireh Food Products’ outlet located at Lag-on, Camarines Norte. The outlet will be transferred to the Pineapple Kiosk beside the provincial capitol before the Bantayog Festival on April 15. (Photo contributed by Emilyn Labor)
In other News
Skip to content