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Never too young to go into business

Gilbert Kim Sancha



The Canimo family in Shanghai, from left: father Meldin, youngest sister Mary Eimezlee Fren, sister Eimeverlee Fren, mother Eizelle and Tats. (Left) Tats wants to become a highly-skilled engineer like his grandfather. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF TATS

COVID-19 has been negatively affecting young entrepreneurs globally for the past months. Many businesses have slowed down, if not totally shuttered.

But education, telecommunication and technology are three sectors which have stayed afloat.

Lazada and Shopee are two e-commerce platforms in Southeast Asia that have been doing good business from retail third-party sellers.

This development inspired the family of Eldin Fren “Tats” Canimo to launch Alabat Island Online Shopping (AiOS) at the start of the Luzon lockdown in March.

In an exclusive interview with Daily Tribune, Tats said that her grandmother, Beverly “Bev” Martinez Avellano, saw the need to provide the online shopping service to Filipinos.

Tats recalled Bev saying, “In a few months, you’ll be turning 18. Your ultimate wish is to run your own business. Let us start and see where this will bring you.”

His mother, Eizelle Avellano Canimo, heard the conversation.

Eizelle, a former government official, pageant CEO and philanthropist, teased Tats, daring him to show some spunk in his venture.

Alabat — which means “balustrade” — is a municipality in Quezon province, home to a few speakers of the critically endangered Inagta Alabat language, listed by UNESCO in its Endangered Languages in the World Volume 3 in 2010.

Naming the business as Alabat is a tribute to the Quezon town.

Tats was appointed CEO.

“I was happy and excited because I have been wishing my parents to give me a business to run. I want to start young and to be part of my family’s business even if I am still a student,” the graduating Mapua STEM student, who also heads the family’s build-and-sell company Avellano Mendenilla-Canimo Associates (AMC).

He was born in Cebu. where her parents’ teleserye love story bloomed, but grew up in Quezon. He literally learned about life the hard way, working as a crew member of a convenience store, mopping the floor and cleaning the cabinet. While in high school, he also served as an assistant to his father in the buy-and-sell business, carrying heavy objects back in high school.

His father, Meldin Canimo, was once a construction worker, janitor and a traffic enforcer before making good in the merchandising and manufacturing business.

Tats — the eldest among siblings that include his sisters Eimverlee Fren and Mary Eimezlee Fren — wants to be an engineer like his grandfather, Efren Almajar Avellano, who was one of the chief engineers who built Magat Dam in 1977.

A typical day for Tats starts with a prayer, followed by a healthy breakfast, after which he gets down to work.

His day ends either by playing online games or bonding with the family.

“My parents reminded me that managing a family business is no piece of cake,” he said. “I will experience heartaches, disappointments and anger, and I must be ready for that.”

Part of the reminder is to be humble and grounded, that the staff are not just employees, but family.

Tats, who’s still single, added: “If you really have the will to pursue your dream, do not be afraid of taking risks. Your parents will give you the best advice and you can never go wrong.”