Capital, hard work, compliance with business regulations, compassion for employees, strong customer relationships, and product quality–these are the reasons for her success, Rosita Pabalan says when asked during an interview. In 2015, Rosita was nominated for Citibank Entrepreneur of the Year.

Learning the fish cracker business after years of working with her father-in-law, Rosita and her husband Kent Pabalan ventured on their own with a Php5,000 loan from NWTF in 2009. Kent focused on production while Rosita on marketing their product around Cadiz and neighboring towns in Negros Island. From the start, Rosita knew the value of good relationships with employees and customers. She devoted much of her effort in cultivating new business relationships and nurturing existing ties.

Fast-forward to 2015, on her 4th loan cycle of Php80,000, the Pabalan’s begin supplying fish crackers to six major towns and cities in the province; all three children are in school; they’ve ventured into the tricycle rental business; and have invested in several properties.

Till this day, Rosita is driven by her determination to provide for her children’s needs, especially a proper education— herself a graduate of a local college, Colegio de San Agustin. She aspires to grow her business and build a better manufacturing facility for her product and aims to supply other markets in and around her province.

Asked what advice she can give other women entrepreneurs, she says, aside from the obvious–having the capital, a business owner must be good to her employees. They must be treated fairly, compensated well and given all the benefits due them. As the owner, you must be there to help them in their time of need. Rosita has helped a number in her community financially, aside from her employees. If you have the means to help, do so, she says. Asked what “not to do” as a business woman, she replies, ‘never be rude to your customers; always make sure to help them as much as you can.’