Cutting out the middleman has always been about getting things cheaper. But this couple shows how cutting out the middleman becomes good for everyone’s business, not just theirs.
Voltaire Magpayo, 41, and Cholly Magpayo, 36 own the SWEET CORNer food cart franchise. The carts sell all things corn, from the classic corn on the cob, to the modern shredded corn, to the movie theater popcorn, and the corn shake. From their initial three carts, they have grown the business to 65 outlets in a span of only three years.
Voltaire and Cholly’s combined degrees in accounting, applied business economics, and business management surely prepared them to start and manage a business. But it was a trip to the province of South Cotabato, the so-called corn capital of the Philippines, that inspired them to stop and smell the kernels and turn the inspiration into a business venture.
Straight from the source
Talking to the farmers, Voltaire found out that they were getting the short end of the stick from middlemen who bought their corn. The couple decided to remedy the situation, and turned to the farmers to supply the corn for what would become SWEET CORNer.
“The president of a corn cooperative revealed to us that the farmers, having no direct access to consumers, were being manipulated by traders, assemblers, and other middlemen as regards the pricing of their produce,” recalls Magpayo. “The buying price dictated by the middlemen was below the market price but the cooperative had no choice but to sell them the corn.”
While middlemen paid the farmers P3 per ear of corn, the Magpayos paid P5 per ear, or almost twice the amount the farmers would get otherwise. Going straight to the source isn’t the only trick up Voltaire’s sleeve. He has also ensured the future supply of organic corn for his food carts by collaborating with farmers’ cooperatives to adopt sustainable all-natural farming methods.