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The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2022 has concluded its search for the country’s most undaunted and unstoppable entrepreneurs. This is a program of the SGV Foundation, Inc., with the participation of co-presenters the Asian Institute of Management, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Philippine Business for Social Progress, and the Philippine Stock Exchange. In the next few weeks, BusinessWorld will feature each finalist for the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2022.

Francisco “Paco” MagsaysayPresident and CEOCarmen’s Best Dairy Products, Inc.

NECESSITY is the mother of invention and for Francisco “Paco” Magsaysay, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Carmen’s Best Dairy Products, Inc., makers of the artisanal Carmen’s Best Ice Cream, truer words have never been spoken.

Mr. Magsaysay was overseeing the family’s cable TV and internet business when his father asked him to help increase the sales of their dairy farm in 2009. Mr. Magsaysay, who grew up in the US and graduated with a degree in marketing, tried to distribute the company’s milk products to resorts and high-end recreation centers, only to realize later that the demand for fresh milk was not big enough.

While baking brownies for his children and thinking of ways to avoid wasting the oversupply of milk, Mr. Magsaysay came up with the idea of using the unsold milk products to produce homemade ice cream. With a small machine and the support of his household helpers, he started making his own ice cream and selling it from his garage.

Mr. Magsaysay admitted that selling a product that nobody knew about was extremely difficult. Carmen’s Best had no history. It was being sold by somebody who was not associated with food. With no culinary background and no experience in the restaurant business, Mr. Magsaysay recalled knocking on doors and going to restaurants only to find that managers and restaurant owners refused to meet with him. In addition, introducing an artisanal product with a high price range was challenging.

“For me, failure was not an option. I could not let my daughter, Carmen, down,” said Mr. Magsaysay, who painstakingly worked on carving his niche despite the challenges. At a time when artisanal ice cream was unheard of, Mr. Magsaysay would make the rounds at various weekend markets, offering free tastes. Such was his belief in the product that he was confident one taste would automatically lead to a sale.

Since its establishment, Carmen’s Best’s track record has been one of growth, driven by long-term business strategy and customer satisfaction. Under Mr. Magsaysay, Carmen’s Best is the first brand to make artisanal ice cream a household name and is now one of the country’s most iconic ice cream brands. Mr. Magsaysay is proud that Carmen’s Best, the first premium Filipino ice cream brand to make it in the market, continues to innovate and delight their customers. He sees this as proof that Filipino imagination and ingenuity, combined with attention to detail and quality, can produce something that can touch the hearts — and enchant the palates — of people of all ages, not just locally but also abroad.

Under Mr. Magsaysay’s leadership, the company persevered during the pandemic. Not only did it manage to keep all its employees, but it also managed to expand its product line and negotiate a partnership with one of the country’s top conglomerates, Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC). This partnership is proof of the business sector’s confidence in the company and Mr. Magsaysay’s hard work. He is confident this partnership will ensure that the company expands its products, services, and other areas of interest.

The artisanal sorbetero has come a long way from literally knocking on doors and working the weekend markets just so he can sell his ice cream. Today, Carmen’s Best is making inroads in the dairy, and restaurant and hospitality industry with the introduction of ice cream cakes, alcohol-infused ice cream under the name J&M Naughty and Nice Cream, and a value line called Arctic Ice Cream, targeted at hotels, restaurants, and catering services. More than just developing products, in the last 13 years, Mr. Magsaysay strategically expanded the business, which is now composed of Carmen’s Best Dairy Products, Carmen’s Best International Dairy Company, Real Fresh Dairy Farms, The Laguna Creamery, and RMJ Development Corp.

To date, Carmen’s Best is distributed through 400 channels that range from community resellers to corporate accounts. It also is served on outbound flights of Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Delta Airlines, and Philippine Airlines’ business class section. Carmen’s Best opened its first shop in Singapore in 2019.

Mr. Magsaysay believes that running a business is not just about consistently making quality products, but it is also ensuring employees, suppliers, and partners are compensated fairly. Trust and ethical business practices are essential values to a company’s success, he said. At the end of the day, Mr. Magsaysay said the people they interact with are their biggest supporters and advocates.

“Many of our distributors were initially Carmen’s Best customers who, after tasting our products, grew to share our passion for delicious ice cream,” he said, adding that being true to his brand allows him to connect with customers and build loyalty.

Mr. Magsaysay ensures that his business places importance on supporting institutions that help those in need. Part of its proceeds are donated to the Philippine General Hospital and the Good Shepherd Convent in Baguio. His vision for Carmen’s Best is holistic and inclusive, encompassing commercial and social responsibilities. For him, a company’s real growth is not only measured by how much money it makes, but also by how many people benefit from its existence.

The media sponsors of the Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines 2022 are BusinessWorld and the ABS-CBN News Channel. Gold Sponsors are SteelAsia Manufacturing Corp., Uratex, and Navegar. Silver Sponsors are Intellicare, OneWorld Alliance Logistics Corp., and Regan Industrial Sales, Inc.

The winners of the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2022 will be announced on Nov. 21, 2022 in an awards banquet at the Grand Hyatt Manila. The winner will represent the Philippines in the World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2023 in Monte Carlo, Monaco in June 2023. The Entrepreneur Of The Year program is produced globally by Ernst & Young (EY).

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