Anita Buce was not quite 16 and a junior high school student when she got married. While her husband continued his studies, she opened her first business, a sari-sari store. She didn’t have the capital, so Buce went around the neighborhood markets to borrow the goods she sold in her store. “I needed P2,000 to start the store, and in 1963, that was already a huge amount,” she recalls. Buce also raised pigs at the back of her store to augment what little the store was making. But even the proceeds from selling pigs were barely able to support her family’s needs.
This led Buce to grab the chance to become a dealer of San Miguel Beer—and later Coke and Pop Cola—when San Miguel Corp. gave out loans for start-up dealers in 1969. She started with 100 cases, which she herself delivered using her owner-type jeep, to wholesalers and retailers in Pandacan. As demand grew, she eventually earned enough to buy a Ford Fiera.
Fifteen years later, Buce’s businesses reached a point when she needed to infuse more money to build warehouses, buy more trucks, and hire sales agents, drivers, in-house mechanics, and inventory staff to oversee sales and stocks. Again, she turned to San Miguel and Coca-Cola for credit. She borrowed P8 million to expand her business to Paco, Sta. Ana, San Andres, and Quirino Avenue in Manila; Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong; and in Makati.
In 2003, Buce took out a P15-million loan from Union Bank’s MyLine. She put up four of her properties as collateral and used the money to buy more inventory from San Miguel.
Now, Buce keeps at least 56,000 cases of beverages at any given time in five warehouses, three of which are hers. On the average, she can dispose of 120,000 cases of beer and soft drinks monthly and even goes up to 150,000 cases on a good month, which is almost double her quota of 80,000 cases.
After more than four decades of selling beer, Buce now grosses an average of P50 million a month, and commands a 90-percent share in beer sales in her franchised areas alone. She has been named one of San Miguel’s top dealers for more than a decade. Aside from plowing her earnings back into the business, she also invested in real estate, buying more than 70 apartment units that she rents out. For a high school dropout who hasn’t taken any business course, Buce’s entrepreneurial feats are indeed one for the books.