New-Gen Filipino Entrepreneurs: Anne Josef and Cocovie Naturals

New-Gen Filipino Entrepreneurs is a feature series that will spotlight young Filipino-Canadian entrepreneurs, and their respective businesses in Toronto. Explore and be inspired by these Filipino go-getters in our community! Like most Filipinos, entrepreneur Anne Josef shares a common love for coconuts--its rich taste, nutrition, and several health benefits. Through Cocovie Naturals, Anne aspires to promote a healthy and positive lifestyle by providing natural, coconut-based products for everyone to enjoy.  Get to know Anne Josef and how she plans to spread the coconut love!

WRITTEN BY CHRISTINE CERVANIA

Why did you decide to establish Cocovie Naturals?

I’ve been in love with coconuts since the day I started crawling! Coconut products were a staple food choice in my home and my late aunt also increased my curiosity in natural healing. Also, due to my personal health, I’ve become very familiar with the benefits of coconuts. Through extensive research for the past few years about the advantages of natural foods--especially coconuts, I thought it was the right time to share its benefits to the Canadian market.

How did you get your start as an entrepreneur?

Passion, drive, perseverance and lack of sleep! I want to make a difference in the global community and I know that Cocovie is my channel to do so. I want to share my knowledge about living a healthy and positive lifestyle, and how that can be achieved by one small change. I truly enjoy the products and I just want to spread the coconut love!

What makes coconuts (and its respective products) unique? Do you have a personal favourite?

The coconut tree can produce many healthy and useful things--from food products to flower pots! It is 100% biodegradable and eco-friendly, so Cocovie is also promoting Social Responsibility. Plus, it tastes and smells good! My all-time favorite and our most popular product is the Coconut Jam. It comes in four different flavors: Classic Coconut, Pineapple, Mango and Vanilla. Stay tuned for more new flavors coming in the new year!

Cocovie practices fair trade with coconut farmers, how would you describe your partnership?

Very rewarding and heartwarming. I know farmers are not as recognized as they should be and how difficult their jobs can be. When I know that I am able to send someone to school because of COCOVIE, that itself is worth more than any sales figures. When you know you are doing something with a purpose beyond what we see here in Canada, you are much more motivated. The sleepless nights are definitely worth it.

How has your Filipino-Canadian identity shape and inspire your business?

I've  learned so many things along the way. Passion is really the #1 ingredient to fulfill what you want to achieve in your life. There is not one person that has influenced me in this journey. I am always a student and I learn so many things about myself through my personal and professional experiences. I look forward for more!

How do you want to grow Cocovie Naturals?

We are currently expanding our sales team to help us promote the health benefits of our products. We will continue to participate in many health events and trade shows across the country to showcase COCOVIE. We are in a process of expanding across the GTA and Western Canada by the end of 2012/beginning of 2013.