Golden Duck lays golden opportunities for the less fortunate

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The versatile salted egg, often enjoyed with fried fish and fresh tomatoes, is a breakfast staple in Filipino homes.

But for many families living in the Gawad Kalinga site in Angat, Bulacan, it is more than just food, it is also their ticket to a better life, thanks to the efforts of Golden Duck.

“From the very beginning, we want to create more jobs – within and outside the community. Ours is not a traditional operation. We want to get the itlog na maalat (salted eggs) directly to you.”

“I was able to send my children to school because of Golden Duck. We are earning more now,” said Fulgencio Reyes, a father of three and whose family lives in the GK site in Barangay Encanto, Angat, Bulacan.

Incubated by the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm in 2011, Golden Duck produces special salted eggs that claim to be more healthy and tasty than those found in the mainstream markets.

To further differentiate itself, Golden Duck’s eggs are dyed gold, instead of the ubiquitous red.

“We started with the very novel product – golden salted egg. We use the same dye but we use a different color since we’ve discovered that the others can be harmful to our customers,” said Golden Duck founder Alvie Benitez.

Benitez’s journey toward establishing Golden Duck started in college at the De La Salle University, when he first learned about the GK Enchanted Farm and its bottom-of-the-pyramid principle as he was doing his thesis.

“Right then, I was fascinated with the story of GK – sustainability, development, countryside wealth creation, top-bottom and bottom-up approach,” he said.

This fascination with the GK story convinced him to enter the business of salted eggs – which are easy to produce and well known to Filipinos – but with a social enterprise dimension.

But he did not want to go the usual route, he wanted to innovate on the concept to better compete with the mainstream market, thus the move to produce golden eggs. And he also wanted to put them within easy reach of the target consumers to create a sustainable market that will support the livelihood of the GK residents.

“From the very beginning, we wanted to create more jobs – within and outside the community. Ours is not a traditional operation. We want to get the itlog na maalat (salted eggs) directly to you,” said Benitez.

“We’re not just inspiring people to create products that are safe. We’re also trying to create social impact to our community. From six, we were able to reduce the process into three. We have also involved the families into the whole value chain – supply, production, and distribution.”

Going into food was a logical move for Benitez, being part of the family that owns the Mario’s restaurant chain. He learned there the basics of the food business, having worked in Mario’s customer relations and also as service crew member and dishwasher.

“I consider it as a good exposure for I was able to understand the value of money,” he said.

He put all of his knowledge to good use in the development and then production of Golden Duck’s Golden Eggs.

Golden Eggs are considered a healthier alternative to the usual salted egg because they are 50 percent less salty and the dye used to color them are not potentially harmful to consumers. Not to mention that they look good on the dining table with their pop of color.

Of course, there is a price to pay, as each Golden Egg costs between P23 and P25, almost double the price of the red ones in the market. But Benitez is confident that there is a niche market willing to pay a higher price for salted eggs that are healthier and also contribute to livelihood development.

“We believe that essentially, if you have good advocacy for your product, it will have a good story. Our brand has a consistent message,” said Benitez.

Supporting Golden Ducks’ operations are farmers like Fulgencio, who receive a “very decent” salary, said Benitez.

They have two sources of income – the eggs and the duck meat, which Benitez and his team recently made into duck patties.

Golden Duck produces special salted eggs which are healthier and tastier alternatives to those found in the mainstream markets

“We’re not just inspiring people to create products that are safe. We’re also trying to create social impact to our community,” he added.

Doing so means Golden Duck buys directly from the farmers so that they can get more of the earnings, and not share them with traders or middlemen.

“From six, we were able to reduce the process into three. We have also involved the families into the whole value chain – supply, production, and distribution,” he said.

Currently, families like that of Fulgencio are involved in different parts of the Golden Duck business. From account management to delivery to collection to bookkeeping, children work part time for the business while going to university.

Benitez believes that this system helps develop a culture of sacrifice and hardwork – values that he learned at an early age by working in the family-run restaurant chain.

“We want to treat them as business partners so that they will treat the social enterprise as their own,” he said.

Looking ahead, Benitez said he sees growth in the sales of the golden salted eggs and a possible launch of a restaurant where he hopes to serve dishes with the golden eggs as the main ingredient.

He also sees Golden Duck becoming a conducive environment for farmers to develop their confidence and competence.

The salted eggs may not have real gold, but these have proven to be precious to the community, giving jobs and income to farmers and their families while cultivating values of hard work and perseverance.

This story is part of a series of articles written by GO NEGOSYO writers being published by GoodNewsPilipinas.com as part of our support to Philippine businesses.

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