For the second straight year, Merl’s Suman sa Lihiya got the nod for product excellence at the 2nd MIMAROPA Best Technopreneur Award held at Calapan City, Mindoro Occidental.

Merl’s Suman sa Lihiya also bagged the 2014 Best SETUP Adopter award - regional level during the 2014 National Science and Technology Week at the SMX Convention Center, SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City.

SETUP, or the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program of the Department of Science and Technology , is a nationwide strategy that encourages and assists small and medium enterprises to adopt technology innovations to improve their operations and expand the reach of their businesses.

DOST gave Merl’s proprietor Merlita Bolu the best technopreneur award for the years 2013 and 2014 for successfully employing technology upgrading to enhance the firm’s productivity through the intervention. Bolus attributes her business’s sweet success in the local market to DOST’s technology interventions, aside from her hard work and innovativeness.

DOST-SETUP provided packaging and labeling design for Merl’s suman sa lihiya product. Moreover, the Department, through SETUP, also provided consultancy on Good Manufacturing Practices and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, enhancement of rice cake steaming process, improvement of coco jam dispensing operation, nutritional analysis, cleaner production technology consultations, and plant production layout.

The SETUP intervention led to the firm’s 325 percent increase in productivity-- from 800 pieces of rice cakes to 3,400 pieces per day. Coco jams also jumped to a significant 30 jars to 48 jars per day. Thus its market has expanded from the National Capital Region down to Southern Luzon.

Merl’s monthly gross income rose to P1.81 million from P462,000. Subsequently, it has employed more than 80 direct and indirect employees.

At present, Merl’s is one of Calapan’s most popular products. In fact, most of the “pasalubong centers” in the city sell the squared-shaped suman sa lihiya.

Merl added that she could not have achieved all this on her own if not for the support of DOST-SETUP that helped enhance its products. Thus Bolus shares her success with DOST.

Future plans
After 14 years in the business, Merl’s has definitely established its identity as Calapan’s best.

Next month, Merl’s will inaugurate its 900-square meter plant in Nauhan, Calapan City. Bolu revealed too that Merl’s is launching six new variants of the suman sa lihiya.
Merl announced her suman sa dahon ng sili which she says is another delicious recipe from her mother.

The Best Technopreneur Awards is given by the DOST Regional Office IV-B to outstanding technology adopters through the SETUP. It gives recognition to micro, small, and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) that adopted science and technology in enhancing productivity and made dents in the local and national markets.

Nominees were selected based on the firm’s innovativeness, impact and performance in the local market, and track record on loans repayments.

Regional Director Josefina Abilay said that the annual search for the best technology adopter in the region “hopes to promote excellence among MIMAROPA’s SMEs,” Dir. Abilay says. (S&T Media Service, DOST-STII)

Calapan’s native deli is MIMAROPA’s best
Calapan’s business couple Merlita and Ferdinand Bolus (second and third from left) of Merl’s Native Delicacies receive the trophy and cash prize for the 2014 DOST Regional Office IV-B Best Technopreneur Award as this year’s outstanding micro, small, and medium enterprise technology adoptor for the second straight year. Also in photo is DOST MIMAROPA Director Josefina Abilay (leftmost), Mindoro Oriental 2nd District Representative Reynaldo Umali (4th from left), and DOST Provincial Director Jesse Pine (rightmost).

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