Establishing businesses outside of Metro Manila is becoming more frequent, as investors are placing their bets in provinces where they can start operations away from the congested and competitive urban market. With regard to the F&B industry, province-based businesses seem to have the upper hand when it comes to dictating the price of commodities they sell in the city.

But for Rob Crisostomo, president of Seed Core Enterprises in Mindanao, operating a business outside Metro Manila is as challenging as in the city. His company exports large quantities of Philippine cacao and one of their clients is Barry Callebaut, the world’s largest supplier of high-quality chocolate and cacao products. The company is also a social enterprise, thus Crisostomo immerses himself and works with the cacao farmers to understand the current condition of the Philippine cacao industry.

“Working outside of Manila is more like a process wherein you have to adapt to the cultures and see where your culture fits with theirs, so it’s a lot of adjustment. It’s a lot of reaction and just forgetting everything you’ve known and taught and relearning everything.”

He further adds that operating a business in the province means that you can’t just dictate your own terms with the people you work with and not everything will be in your control. “Whatever you’ve learned in the city doesn’t really apply to anywhere else. Especially in the field, you have to deal everything and start from scratch.”

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