Assisted by one employee, Alu makes her meatballs manually. She is deftly able to make three kilograms of meatballs in two hours. Under the brand “Bakso Original” (Original Meatballs), these meatballs, made by the mother of five children, are free of formalin and preservatives and are sold at a price of US$6 per package.
They said these meatballs are different from other meatballs. You can feel the taste of the beef and the spice smells enticing. Just delicious."Luisa Maria S. da Silva, , repeating what she was told by the supermarkets
“My meatballs can last for 1.5 months, and are always sold out before the expiry date,” she said.
Alu says the supermarkets have told her that their customers love her Bakso Original.
“They said these meatballs are different from other meatballs. You can feel the taste of the beef and the spice smells enticing. Just delicious,” she said, repeating what she was told by the supermarkets.
Not surprisingly, she is receiving more orders. She now delivers her meatballs two to three times a week to each supermarket. To date, her meatballs are available at six supermarkets throughout Dili, with a total production of 84 packages per month.
To develop her business and to get additional capital, Alu participated in the 2014 Innovative Business Plan Competition. The competition was organised by the Institute for Business Support (IADE).During the competition process, Alu received business management training and business counselling from IADE’s trainers.
The initiative is also supported by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) through its Business Opportunities and Support Services (BOSS) Project, backing enterprises to build sustainable jobs and income in this small, post-conflict nation. Jointly funded by Irish Aid and NZAID, the ILO-BOSS project works in partnership with IADE to deliver business development services to micro, small and medium enterprises, unlock business opportunities by developing functional value chains in specific sectors and promote better coordination and alignment of private sector initiatives.
Although she only reached the semi-final, Alu, who also has a catering and cake business, gained benefits from the training and business counselling, particularly on financial management and negotiation skills.
“I learned how to manage finances for my business and for my family. I also learned how to do promotion, negotiation and client networking,” she said.
To date, Alu regularly visits IADE to continue receiving business counselling and build a network with other IADE business clients. From the knowledge she gained, she has successfully approached more stores and supermarkets.
Timorese tend to be shy. I am no longer shy, as I know that I come with a clear business proposal and good quality products."Luisa Maria S. da Silva
In addition to stores and supermarkets, Bakso Original is also popular in her surrounding neighbourhood.
“I also have orders from small restaurants and meatball vendors. Unfortunately, I cannot fulfil all of the orders as I am still making my meatballs manually,” she said.
Alu admits that she is now overwhelmed with fulfilling orders. Yet, she insists on making the meatballs herself to ensure the quality.
“I wish that I can have a meatball maker machine to make this business more modern and accelerate the production process. This will increase sales,” said Alu, who receives the support of her husband and her family to continue her business.
The article was written by Sanzinha dos Santos Branca and Domingos Ribeiro Damiao, staff of the Institute for Business Support (IADE) under the Minister of State, Coordinator of Economic Affairs (MECAE).