Through crowd sourcing, he was able to entice fellow-OFWs in Qatar, Middle East to invest in the country's rich agriculture resources particularly cacao production and processing.
"You cannot be an OFW forever, time will come that you will retire and go back in the Philippines. It would be wise that before retirement you already have [a sustainable] investment," he says adding that investing in agriculture will not only secure your hard earned money but creates market for farmers' produce and generate local employment.
Learning cacao production and processing thru his own research and training from CIDAMI, the MS3 Agri-Ventures now produces Halal Certified chocolate, cacao nibs, and cacao tablets (tablea). They have also developed value-adding products such as cacao tea out of the peelings of roasted cacao beans and cacao vinegar from drippings of fermented cacao beans.
Santillan says their company ensures that from the tree to finished products good farming and manufacturing practices are observed. "We invested on high-end processing equipment to ensure that we produce quality chocolate and cacao tablets," he says.
Operating for barely a year, MS3 Agri-Venture products are now Halal Certified by the Islamic Da'wah Council of the Philippines and issued license to operate by the Food and Drug Administration. In December 2017, the company also received the Best Cacao Tablet from the Asia Halal Brand Awards in Malaysia.
Santillan is now working on supplying their products to 13 Robinsons outlets in the country and recently signed an MOU with a Malaysian-based company for marketing their products.
With recent news on banning sending OFWs in some parts of Middle East, the story of MS3 Agri-Ventures serves as beacon of hope for our kababayans abroad to consider local investment in agriculture to secure their families' future.