Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: IT Innovation for Small Businesses

Philippine SMB bakes growth on tech

Previously not a business priority, IT has helped Marta's Cakes resolve inaccuracies in accounting, sales, and inventory, as well as improve quality control and internal communications.

IT automation helped resolve inaccuracies in accounting, sales, and inventory, as well as improve quality control and internal communications for a small and midsize business (SMB) in the Philippines which previously did not view technology as a priority.  

Like most family-owned home businesses which main objective initially is simply to take off the ground, investing in technology was not on the mind of Marta Matute, the proprietor of Marta's Cakes.

When she started her venture in 1995, her key purpose was merely to keep herself busy after tying the knot. "I found that there was a lot of time on my hands as a newly-wed and thought of a business that I could do at home, while anticipating the arrival of children," Matute recalled.

But word got around quickly about her sweet confectionaries, and soon she was taking orders from friends and strangers alike. Hence, Marta's Cakes was born.


Although her cake-making project started to pick up steam, it remained a home-based enterprise that catered only to a small circle of patrons for the next 10 years.

Marta's Cakes

Objective: To automate manual, labor-intensive proecsses 

How: Implemented several projects including a new Web site, and an SMB version of an ERP software

Cost: To date, 1 million pesos (US$77,411)

Results: Resolved inaccuracies in accounting, inventory, and sales. Improved quality control and security in sales. Better communications between sales and production teams.

In 2007, Matute made the decision to formally register her company as a sole proprietorship. By this time, however, the usual issues associated with a growing business were beginning to crop up. She then turned to technology for answers.

Despite the relatively pricey tag, she deployed a slew of IT initiatives including a Web site and an SMB version of an ERP (enterprise resource planning) product from a German enterprise software maker.

She said costs were a major concern and she had to find ways to pay in smaller increments to be able to afford it. The company has so far invested 1 million pesos (US$77.411), she revealed.

While the sales volume has remained the same compared to the pre-deployment level, its IT investments has streamlined business processes and put the house in order.

"The business of baking and decorating cakes is very manual and labor-intensive, but as we grew, we realized there were aspects that could better be handled by technology," said Matute, who is now a 43-year-old mom to a 15-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son.

The automation system, she said, resolved "numerous inaccurate" figures in the company's accounting, inventory, and purchasing departments. The lack of quality control and security in the sales department, as well as poor communications between the sales and production departments, also have been addressed, she said.

Technology has allowed Marta's Cakes to grow from a small home-based business into a SMB, she said.

"It also gave us more time to be creative as the business aspect was being handled efficiently by technology," Matute shared. "Technology played quite a major role in the growth and success of our business. Without it, we would have remained much smaller than we are today."

Melvin G. Calimag is a freelance IT writer based in the Philippines.