For this edition of #PinoysDownUnder, we talked to ANTHONY HERRERA, owner of New Life Cycles Bike Shop and Enelssie Café and Grill.
At only 36 years old, Anthony has done a big career shift from IT to establishing a growing business, all while raising two children with wife Tina. He shared with me the string of everyday miracles that brought him to Australia, and led to establishing two growing businesses in a quiet residential street in the outer western suburbs of Melbourne.
“I graduated with a Computer Science degree during the 90s, when students were doing either nursing or IT. All my siblings were nurses, and I took IT.
“Before coming here, I have already been looking for opportunities to work outside of the Philippines. I looked for jobs in nearby countries, with the end goal to get to Australia. Finally, after five years, I got an offer from a bank in Malaysia as in-house IT. I resigned from my job then to accept the offer, but my boss at that time persuaded me to look instead for opportunities within the company for an overseas assignment. After a week, he notified me there was a job opening in Australia.
“So in 2013, I came to Melbourne on a working visa with my wife Tina. I worked as an IT professional for a few companies. Eventually I suffered from a very bad case of hereditary gout. I started taking painkillers, popping them in my mouth regularly like candy. Six months of taking in painkillers affected my health, and I had to undergo surgery.
“Because I was taking absences on and off due to my illness, I got terminated from my job. That was in Dec 2017, just over three years of moving to Australia for a better life. But when I lost my job, I was at peace. I felt God had other plans for me.
“I opened up a bike shop and named it New Life Cycles, which helped augment the income from my wife’s job at VLine. I continued to look for a job, and prayed for a miracle.
“I was on my 21st day of praying and fasting when the miracle came. On that day I bought lunch for my family but forgot to buy a drink, so I went to the mini mart nearby.
“As soon as I got there the owner told me he had been trying to contact me for days. He was selling his business, and wanted me to know. But it had been the 10th day of trying to reach me to no avail, and he already had a few buyers. I hurriedly went home and told Tina that maybe this was my answered prayer.
“I still can’t believe how I was able to raise the funds but God provided and used people as an instrument to bless us, and we were able to take ownership of the business.
“But it was not an overnight success. I established my bike shop in the new space, while researching how to operate a café in the area. I worked with the council to get my permit and sold a few bikes from my collection to buy the equipment required for a commercial grade kitchen. After a year, I finally got council approval to operate the café. We launched Enelssie Café and Grill on the Easter Monday of 2019.
“It was my first-time to operate a cafe although I grew up learning from my lolo and my father who both operated successful businesses in Marikina. I also learned to cook from my mom who had a catering business. My wife Tina is also a very good cook.
“Before Covid-19, the restaurant was so popular I was thinking of closing the bike shop. But then the lockdown happened. The café had to shut down. It was the bike shop that helped with rent and the bills.
“I’m a Christian. I named the bike shop New Life Cycles after New Life in Christ. Enelssie was derived from its acronym NLC.
“Both the bike shop and café are closed on Sundays. It’s very important for me to spend the day in worship with our church community and dedicate time to the family.
“I told God that if I open on Sundays, I will earn a lot more. But just this month alone (January 2021), the sales even on a weekday was many times over what I would have expected to earn on a Sunday.
“Every time we have trials, we know He will deliver us. I experience this on a regular basis now. When the time comes to pay my employees’ salary or the rent, we would get a really busy day at the café and the income helps me fulfill my financial obligations.
“My business is a Kingdom business. I just want to give glory to God. I want to prophesy the business will be successful, but humbly I know it is God who makes it possible.
“We are hoping to open up another branch. But my goal is not to be wealthy, and only for our kids to be comfortable, so they can be a channel of blessings to others.”