Entrepreneur shares how she revived her first business after leaning towards bankruptcy due to pandemic, now earns six figures


This entrepreneur from Laguna proves that if there’s a grill, there’s a way to success!

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, MJ Loleng started a unique business which only began with a vision paired with her passion to provide jobs and help the environment.

In 2019, she established Ecobriqs, a coconut charcoal briquettes made out of coconut shell waste. It became an instant hit especially with the rise of different Samgyupsal restaurants. She was able to earn six figures on her first business.

“Ecobriqs started [at] year 2019. Actually zero ‘yung naging puhunan ko for that business. As in wala talaga akong nilabas. I only have the passion and the idea to put up my own business. So this passion and this idea, I have introduced it to different investors. And then nagustuhan nila ‘tong idea na ‘to. So they [were] the ones who funded the business,” the 26-year-old entrepreneur said.

“Of course, there are people who have the money but don’t have the idea. And I am the [person] who have the idea but [doesn’t] have the money. So nag collaborate kami. Do’n kami nag start. Maliit na chain then hanggang sa word-of-mouth nalang. Pinagkakalat nila na, “Ito nalang gamitin niyo, Ecobriqs.” Hanggang sa dumami nang dumami,” she added.

Until the pandemic tested her perseverance to continue her first business. Ecobriqs had to cease operations for half a year due to lockdowns.

“So from the six digits, nag negative ka. Malaki talaga ‘yung naging impact ng pandemic. It’s hard to maintain if wala kang additional income. May mga times. Lalo na kapag end of the month, ayan na ‘yung bayarin. Hindi maiiwasang isipin mong i-let go mo nalang kaya,” she recalled.

“Medyo malaki na din ‘yung losses pero hindi ko pa din binitawan kasi mahal ko ‘yung trabaho ko, mahal ko ‘yung ginagawa ko and at the same time, napalapit na din ‘yung loob namin sa mga empleyado namin,” MJ added.

But MJ did not allow herself to get knocked down by the pandemic. She then introduced Samgyup to-go to the public in 2020.

“Parang pandemic, huminto ‘yung oras ng tao eh. Lahat nasa bahay lang. Parang huminto talaga ‘yung buhay mo. Pati trabaho mo huminto. Biglang nawala. Sarado ‘yung mga restaurants, sarado ‘yung business,” MJ shared.

“So dito ko naisipan na I think malaki ‘yung potential kung ii-introduce mo pa rin ‘yung samgyupsal sa market pero takeout and on the go. So naging successful ‘yung pag launch namin ng samgyup on the go business. It lasted for almost half a year before we decided to put up our own restaurant,” she added.

Thankfully, she was able to save her first business from bankruptcy. Her sales in Ecobriqs are now more stable.

They are currently working with different local communities in Zamboanga, where the raw materials are located. Ecobriqs also has a warehouse in Marikina that delivers charcoal products in Luzon.

“From Ecobriqs and Umma’s Samgyup, both businesses, nakapag-ipon ako or nakapag pundar ako ng itong dream house ko,” she said as she looked back on her journey.

“In business, there are only two consequences. You either win, you either learn. So ‘wag mong susukuan hangga’t mahal mo ‘yung ginagawa mo, hangga’t ando’n ‘yung passion mo, hangga’t nakikitaan mo siya ng purpose, gawin mo lahat ng makakaya mo,” she added.

MJ Loleng graduated with a degree in Industrial Engineering at PUP Manila in 2018. She decided to join a startup company after graduation where she eventually resigned to start her own business.

Janelle Lorzano
Janelle Lorzano
Janelle Lorzano likes long walks on the seaside and listening to people about their lives. When she isn't writing, she travels and discover new places.