Ernanie Llema

REL Seafoods Buyer and Dealer
Galing Ni Nanay 2013 – Micro Entrepreneur of the Year


After experiencing a difficult life in Manila, Nanay Ernanie Llema and her family returned to their hometown in Piña Island, Masbate in 1988. Since they do not have any regular source of income, her brother-in-law offered them to venture into ERC Seafood Buyer and Dealer, a business that the Llema siblings established.

When the siblings of Nanay Ernanie’s husband (Tatay Theodie) moved out in Piña Island for good, Nanay Ernanie and her husband decided on continuing the business. With savings amounting to P14,000 and a motor boat they acquired for fishing prior to starting their business, Nanay Ernanie established REL Seafoods Buyer and Dealer Enterprise in 1992. Initially starting as a “buy and sell” operation”, they buy seafoods like squid, crab, and shrimp from fishermen in their baranggay then deliver these to Philips Seafood Manufacturing located near their place.

Years of hardwork paid off and REL Seafoods was able to buy additional motorboats from the profits earned and set up their own fishing operations in 1994. The hired fishermen from their baranggay and paid them on a revenue-split arrangement. To date, REL owns 29 motor boats.

In 2007, Nanay Ernanie joined CARD Bank and was able to borrow P7000 on her first loan. Six years later, she was already granted her 16th loan cycle amounting to P150, 000. REL Seafoods was able to get customers from Manila like JHR Marine Product and 4GT Consignation. And in 2012, REL entered into a supply agreement with an international crab meat manufacturing company based in Cebu.

The operation of their business is mostly handled by Nanay Ernanie with the help of her husband and children. At present, they employ a total of 154 workers for various areas in production. Nanay Ernanie’s business also went through tough years experiencing depletion of capital to support business operations. This was due to improper management of cash flow. They also experienced shortage in seafood production as a result of the government’s ban on high-yield fishing method and issues on product requirements.

The Llemas learned valuable lessons from this challenging experience. The most important of which is proper budgeting and keeping the lines of communication open with partners and employees.

“You must have a lot of patience. Love everything you earned because if you don’t, then it will be useless. My husband and I understand each other. If we have something to decide on, we make sure that we talk about it. We make sure that both of us are part of the decision making. We also seek the advice of our children. We ask them if our decision is right. We really involve them in our business to have a strong relationship, just like we did when starting the business.”

REL’s average annual sales has now reached to P1.5M with a profit of half million. Nanay Enrnanie’s journey from a struggling housewife to a successful businesswoman is a remarkable story of a true Micro Entrepreneur.

~ Ernanie Llema