Neil Sangalang receives his token cheque at the PBC Masterclass awarding in BurJuman, Dubai.


Filipino accountant in Dubai wins Dh30,000 with ice cream idea

A Filipino accountant in Dubai has won a Dh30,000 grant with a nouveau ice cream business idea that he presented at a recent competition.

Neil Sangalang bested 13 other finalists who pitched their business ideas at the PBC Masterclass by the Philippine Business Council Dubai (PBC Dubai) at Radisson Blu Hotel on January 20.

As the grand prize winner, Neil took home a Dh30,000 business grant from PBC Dubai as well as Dh100,000 worth of investments from an angel investor.

Speaking to Expat Media, Neil says his win came as a pleasant surprise. “I did not expect to win the PBC Masterclass grant of Dh30,000 and the Dh100,000 from an investor. Each contestant presented equally strong business plans, and many have actually started businesses in Dubai. As a startup, I saw it as a challenge and was pleasantly surprised to have won,” he says.

How does he plan on spending the money? “It will be strictly allocated for business purposes. It cannot be utilized for any other expenses or ventures outside the scope of the business plan,” he says.

Neil’s winning idea? An ice cream service that has never been done in the UAE. Details about his Summer Chills Co. business are being withheld ahead of the launch in Dubai. The 44-year-old accountant and entrepreneur shares that his unique business idea came after a “personal frustration”.

“As someone who enjoys ice cream as a dessert after meals, I faced a common dilemma in food courts. If I ordered it with my meal, it would often melt before I could finish. On the other hand, if I waited to order afterward, the long queues became impractical. This realization coincided with the advice from our mentors to develop a business that addresses a real problem,” he says.

Neil has lived in the UAE in the last 17 years. In the Philippines, he also dabbled in business ventures, such as real estate, grocery stores and building supplies. The foodie and ice cream lover says he is excited to share his passion with the UAE’s foodie community.

“I have a deep appreciation for ice cream, and my favorite flavour is taro from the Philippines. One of my most cherished memories revolves around the time of our board exam review. During our walks along Hidalgo Street in Manila, my classmates and I would frequently stop by a store to indulge in a cone of ice cream, creating moments of camaraderie amidst the intensity of our exam preparations,” he recalls. He is excited to see his business launched in malls across Dubai soon.

Meanwhile, other Filipinos also took home special awards at the PBC Masterclass. Chris Tanate, the founder of Love in a Jar desserts, was given the Most Improved Award; and Lance Tawan Taha of Lasap Restaurant was awarded for his outstanding participation in the masterclass.

The PBC Masterclass awarding ceremony was attended by Philippine Consul General Renato Dueñas Jr., PBC Dubai Chairman Edwin Duria, PBC Dubai Vice Chairman Allan Michael Bautista, PBC Dubai Chairman Emeritus Bobbie Carella and BurJuman Marketing Director Sonya Jose. ICA/Expat Media

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