Successful Honduran Business Rises Through Yogurt & Faith
My name is Eder Dylonn Sevilla Rodríguez and I am an entrepreneur in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. I am a divorced father of 2 children, Micaela (6), and Eder Gabriel, (10). Life in Honduras is very hard. It is a very poor country where 80 percent of the population live in poverty. I have been fortunate to study at the university, and to earn a master’s degree. I graduated from the Central American University of Technology, UNITEC, with a bachelor’s in marketing and international business and a master’s degree from the same university in project management. We are not a wealthy family. I would say that we come from a fighting family. We are always charging ahead, making a way. A businessman himself, my father has always taught me that.
The standard of living here in the capital of Honduras is expensive. A medium-level home can cost you about $500 dollars for rent, alone. Average salaries range between $ 500 and $ 1000 dollars, so if we do the math, it costs a lot to live here in Honduras because everything is very expensive. And because there is not so much purchasing power, but with God’s help and the will to make it, you can get ahead.
The Entrepreneur Life
The idea of being an entrepreneur has always been on my mind. Looking back, I have always liked doing things for myself. Although I have worked for others, being an entrepreneur has always been a primary goal, a strong desire to prove myself as a person, and to leave a legacy to my children.
My business partner and I met last year as we were both looking for ways to sell something unique. The launch of my business started with the combination of my passion for Volkswagen kombis and a gift, a machine that made frozen yogurt that was given to us by my partner’s mother.
Kombinando is launched
From there on, the idea of Kombinando was born. We would make and sell a healthy blend of frozen yogurt with fresh fruit, out of our Volkswagen Kombi.
We started the company in December of last year.
Sometime after working out of the Kombi, we made the business decision to transition into an actual shop in downtown, Tegucigalpa. We sold it to Casa Quinchon and invested the profits from the sale to generate more business. Our clients really liked the concept of the Kombi-yogurt truck, but the rent was too expensive and in reviewing the finances we realized we would either have to close the business or move to a store. By the grace of God, the owners of Casa Quinchon, where we rented a space for the Kombie, offered to lease us a store. We accepted and made the move.
Learning by Doing
The transition from the Kombi to a store taught us an important business lesson:
To succeed in any entrepreneurial business, you must keep your finances in order. No matter how exciting a business plan may be, businesses won’t survive from illusions or emotions alone. At the end of the day, it all boils down to doing simple math: considering the cost to operate vs. benefit, expenses, and profit. This was our first lesson.
Kombinando’s Formula for Prosperity
When it comes to accounting, I have some expertise, but we also have an external accountant, a person who is helping us to settle the accounts, to update us on where the money goes, and what can be invested. Our goal is to grow and prosper, but as Christian people we are not seeking to be millionaires. More so, we are looking to achieve economic stability in Honduras, a very difficult goal because Honduras is a very poor country.
Blessings & Yogurt Cups
Our yogurt cups are decorated with biblical passages. This idea occurred to us because we knew that God had given us this business. My partner and I were both looking for means to make a living and were tired of not having money. When the business grew, we wanted to express gratitude and share the Word by placing a Bible verse on each cup.
The idea also came from my children’s prayer cards, known as obejitas, which means, little lambs.
The obejitas are prayer cards with 100 biblical blessings. They are all different. Inspired by the obejitas we print the messages on the cups at random and we hope that each client will get the Word that they need that day.
We realize that not all people share our same faith. We print the verses the cups for people to see and hope that regardless of a person’s faith, the message will inspire and bless them.
We thank God for every penny that we earn. We would like to grow, but we also understand that we have to be strategic and make business moves in a calm manner. Thank God, next December we will have turned a year. The experiences have mostly been good, because everything is learning. We are not millionaires, but here in Honduras we have a saying: no se gana, pero se goza, “we may not win, but we will enjoy the ride.”
We cater to customers who are looking for a natural and healthy product. Our clients love that our frozen yogurt is delicious, sweetened with natural fruit, and without added sugar.
Running the Shop and Wearing Multiple Hats
My partner and I provide all services. We are the managers, the employees, and the servers. The service we provide is highly personalized, friendly and warm. Our clients enjoy conversation, learning about our business, our process for making healthy yogurts, and how all the machines work.
A Day’s Work
Ask entrepreneurs how many hours they work a day and they will tell you the same thing I would say: every day, all the time. You don’t stop thinking; you don’t stop working; you don’t stop looking for new products. You keep thinking, “I could have done this better, or I can improve in this way.” I have even gotten up at night to serve clients because we don’t stop working.
In order to be successful, an entrepreneur has to give it all, work with all the passion that is required because if things are done halfway, businesses won’t produce fruit.
On the Advantages and Disadvantages of Being an Entrepreneur in Honduras
I believe the advantages of entrepreneurship have appeal, worldwide. The advantage is that you are working for yourself. You are putting your effort into something that is yours, that will benefit your family. You work extremely hard, but you don’t do so under the pressure from a boss or someone else who demands results. You are not arriving at your house at 8:00 pm or 9:00 pm at night, exhausted and stressed out after giving your best to profit someone else’s business. Working for yourself means that you are putting all your efforts into something that is yours.
The disadvantages are economic ones. You don’t have a fixed income. In Honduras, for example, you cannot say that in a certain number of months you will reap profits from your efforts. You may have to wait a year or a year and a half. Depending on the financial conditions of the business you may not be able to count with a fixed salary, then that is the motivation to work harder.
Entrepreneurial Ventures in Honduras
Here in Honduras what people are looking for the most is eating. The food industry is big. Edible services are booming, because as we say with my partner, everyone here is hungry. But you can’t sell a plate of food for 10 dollars, for example, because nobody will buy it. Sales ranges for food items range between $2-$6 dollars. So, you must get your costs right. You don’t want to overprice or undervalue your services, or it could cost you.
Financing Ventures in Honduras
On the surface, it appears as if entrepreneurs can apply for credit to start our businesses in Honduras. However, the process is so cumbersome that most entrepreneurs give up on that route. The more common path is for Honduran entrepreneurs to invest their savings. Sometimes family members help you. If you have a car, you sell it. So, it is very difficult here. Sometimes, not even your family supports you. Fortunately, we have been supported and encouraged.
A Father-Hen type of Entrepreneur
I live in Tegucigalpa and my children live in San Pedro Sula. The distance and the rigors of the business make it all a little complicated, but it is all worth it. I am a papá gallina, a father-hen. I love taking care of my children. I try to be a great example even though they don’t live with me. When they are with me, I take them to work, I teach them the value of money, and the prize that comes with effort.
Visiting historic Tegucigalpa?
Stop by Kombinando and enjoy a delicious yogurt. The store is located in the Mercado La Rampa, in Casa Quinchon, in downtown Tegucigalpa.