MANILA, Philippines – Not “rag-to-riches,” but “prayer to success.”
This is how Joel and Marissa Yala described their story of being blue collar workers to self-made millionaires.
The Yalas, who moved to Laguna from Surigao del Sur, found their success in giving a twist to the Filipino favorite polvoron.
According to Joel, all it took was a trip to the supermarket for them to come up with the million-peso idea.
“Nu’ng magkasama kami sa grocery, nakita ko may marshmallow na coated, biscuit na coated, at naisip namin bakit hindi polvoron,” he said on “My Puhunan.”
Joel and Melissa Yala, the couple behind Chocovron. Photo from My Puhunan Facebook page
Despite not having any background in the food industry, the couple tried their luck in making and selling packs of chocolate-coated polvoron.
With a capital of P500, they were able to produce 10 packs of polvoron which they sold for P200 each.
“Pagpasok ko sa trabaho, kinalat ko sa locker ko para makita ng mga kasamahan ko. Sabi nila, ‘Ano po ‘yan kuya?’ Sabi ko polvoron, nagulat sila kasi iba ang kulay,” said Joel.
The first batch of polvoron, later to be called “Chocovron,” was immediately sold out, giving the Yala couple earnings of P1,500.
From there, the couple grew their polvoron business and is now producing 3,500 packs a day from their factory in San Pedro, Laguna.
From the simple mix of chocolate and polvoron, they also fused other flavors into the Filipino snack, such as cookies ‘n cream, durian, malunggay and ampalaya.
Chocolate-coated polvoron. Photo from My Puhunan Facebook page
“Kailangan creative ka sa negosyo, hindi ‘yung mag-imitate ka lang. Kailangan ikaw ang nauna,” Joel said.
The products have also evolved to cater to the health conscious, introducing sugar-free pinipig in dark chocolate and the NutriVron Stevia polvoron.
Continuing its tradition of innovation, the Yalas have also introduced coconut cream bars and polvoron sticks.
But apart from their innovative skills, Melissa believes it is prayer and discipline with money that have brought them success.
“Dapat alam ang wants at needs. Kung ano ang kailangan, ‘yun lang dapat ang bilhin,” she said.
The small business endeavor of the Yalas is now known as ChocoVron Global Corporation, considered as one of the country’s major players in food processing.