Iconic bakery gets new life after DOST gives it shot in the arm

By Edd K. Usman

One of Metro Manila’s oldest bakeries was given a new lease on life, thanks to a government program that gives small businesses seed money for technology upgrades.

For more than 20 years, the 78-year-old Kamuning Bakery has been losing money because of outdated production methods, said its owner newspaper columnist Wilson Lee Flores, who bought the establishment from its previous proprietors in December 2013.

DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña (right) is joined by Mr.  Wilson Lee Flores (center) at 'DOSTKusyon' media briefing on Nov. 27 at Kamuning Bakery in Quezon City. (EKU)

DOST secretary Fortunato de la Peña (right) is joined by Kamuning  Bakery owner Wilson Lee Flores (center)  and DOST undersecretary Brenda Nazareth-Manzano

A prolific social media user, Flores was able to attract old and new customers through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Despite customer growth, his bakers were unable to cope with the demand as the establishment still used manual processes to produce its famous pastries, such as pan de suelo, pandesal breads.

One day, his bakery manager suggested that he apply for the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Small Enterprises Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP), which provides small businesses with seed money to strengthen operations using newer technologies.

At first, Flores resisted because he was “allergic to the government,” he said, during a media dialog held at the bakery that was led by the DOST called “DOSTKusyon,” a play on the word discussion.

Later on, he relented and applied for SETUP funding, which DOST approved, allowing him to receive a loan of P970,000 in August 2015, which is payable without interest within three years.

As a result of the technology interventions, the bakery was able to

• Increased production volume by 50 percent;
• Addressed constraints and bottlenecks in the mixing line by complementing traditional mixing, baking, and proofing methods with new equipment;
• Made the production process more efficient;
• Improved quality of baked breads and cookies;
• Enabled the facility to become complaint with food safety regulations

Thanks to these enhanced operations, Kamuning Bakery was able to establish a new branch in SM North EDSA that made the number of its workers grow by 13 percent.

Gov’t strategy to help small firms

During the forum, DOST Undersecretary for regional operations Brenda L. Nazareth-Manzano explained that SETUP is the government’s strategy “to boost MSME [micro, small, and medium enterprises’] productivity and competitiveness through technological innovations.”

SETUP is focused on its priority sectors, such as food processing; metals and engineering; agricultural/marine/aquaculture; health products; information and communications technology (ICT); gifts, decors and handicraft (GDH); and furniture, she said.

From 2002 to 2016, SETUP had already assisted 4,363 MSMEs; granted P3.336-billion assistance; created 167,939 jobs; and P35.354 billion gross sales of assisted MSMEs.

From January to September this year, the program already funded 574 projects involving P577 million fund assistance and 5,253 new firms. The program was able to help generate 45,314 new jobs and gross sales worth P5.4 billion.

With the fast-paced of technology innovations, Nazareth-Manzano said DOST plans to introduce SETUP 2.0 to transform businesses into Smarter SMEs.

She said this will be to drive the “nation’s inclusive growth through socially-responsive, market-oriented, able, resilient, technology-based, environment-friendly, and responsible SMEs.”

To implement SETUP 2.0, DOST will leverage automation, artificial intelligence (AI), Industry 3.0 and 4.0, she added.

For his part, DOST-National Capital Region Director Jose “Jojo” B. Patalinjug III said for NCR alone, SETUP from 2003 to 2017 has invested a total of P349,374,459 in fund assistance. As a result, 303 firms received technology and equipment upgrades and were able to create 2,809 jobs.

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