I do not need to cite the very famous quotation from our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal for us to know that indeed, the future of our country lies on the youth. Investing on the youth is like planting seeds for the future. That is why we, at Go Negosyo, have always aimed to empower the young through entrepreneurship. We are fortunate to have found a partner who shares the same goal—the United States Embassy in Manila led by H.E. Ambassador Philip S. Goldberg who graced our recent event with his presence.

Go Negosyo Founding Trustee Joey Concepcion and US Ambassador Philip S. Goldberg.

Go Negosyo Founding Trustee Joey Concepcion and US Ambassador Philip S. Goldberg.

In partnership with the US Embassy, Go Negosyo conducted the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Workshop (YEDW) series held in Manila, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. In this workshop series which is aimed to develop businesses into innovative enterprise for continuous improvement, we gathered the most promising young entrepreneurs in the country. At the end, we chose the best among the two categories: aspiring entrepreneurs with actual business idea and practicing entrepreneurs with existing businesses.

I am proud to present the winners of this year’s YEDW series:

In the business idea category, Rachel De Villa bested more than 20 other aspiring young entrepreneurs. Rachel’s business idea is called Cropital. Cropital is a crowdfunding platform connecting anyone to help finance farmers. At 23, Rachel has always pictured herself as a problem-solver. So when she and her team noticed the lack of financial support being given to Filipino farmers, she immediately developed a prototype to address this problem. Through Cropital, anyone can finance a farmer by investing funds that will be used to provide the farmer proper equipment, training and advice from experts. In return, the funder will get a certain percentage of the profit generated after harvest. Cropital’s business model revolves around empowering farmers to increase their productivity, thus, increasing the income of their household. “We envision a world where farmers do not live in debt but live the life that they deserve,” said the young visionary.

Meanwhile, Helen Kaye Layco from General Santos City is the winner of the existing business category. Kaye, an industrial engineer by profession who considers herself as an “accidental entrepreneur,” is the CEO of SAM Holdings, the company that manages the Macho Mucho Barber + Salon. Originally conceptualized by her brother Ralph Layco, Macho Mucho is a hybrid salon that provides both barber and salon services designed specifically for men. As a young entrepreneur, the 26-year old Kaye saw the emerging and growing market of men who wish to be pampered and treated for their grooming needs in an environment where they can be truly themselves—not in an old-style barbershop that lacked innovations for the needs of today’s men, and not in the feminine salon where their wife or girlfriend goes to. “One advantage of a young entrepreneur is a higher regard of the present market’s need and wants since we can relate to the market ourselves,” shares Kaye. “We try our best to be creative, empathic, and authentic in communicating to our target market. And this is the best part: We communicate, market, and sell accordingly with so much heart.”

Both winners are grateful for the workshop series because it opened several opportunities and allowed them to build networks with mentors and fellow entrepreneurs.

(L-R) Ma. Isabel Gutierrez (US Embassy), Carlo Calimon (MobKard), Jorge Wieneke (Tokyo Tempura), Pete Davis (US Embassy), Elizabeth Lu (US Embassy) Kaye Layco (Macho Mucho), Rachel De Villa (Cropital), Ramon Lopez (Go Negosyo), Dianne Eustaquio (Ideaspace), Tess Dimaculangan (Dimaculangan and Dimaculangan CPAs) Willy Arcilla (Independent Marketing Consultant).

(L-R) Ma. Isabel Gutierrez (US Embassy), Carlo Calimon (MobKard), Jorge Wieneke (Tokyo Tempura), Pete Davis (US Embassy), Elizabeth Lu (US Embassy) Kaye Layco (Macho Mucho), Rachel De Villa (Cropital), Ramon Lopez (Go Negosyo), Dianne Eustaquio (Ideaspace), Tess Dimaculangan (Dimaculangan and Dimaculangan CPAs) Willy Arcilla (Independent Marketing Consultant).

According to Kaye, “YEDW and its mentors guided me to an appreciation of how a business model should adapt to the requirements of the customers and what it should deliver without sacrificing the essence of the idea.”

For Rachel, she shared that “aside from the skills and learnings I got from YEDW which are all valuable and has greatly contributed to Cropital, for me, the people in YEDW believed and trusted my idea and they knew that it can really improve other people’s lives. They gave me that confidence boost and inspired me to keep moving forward and hustle every day that’s why we were able to launch in just 4 months.”

Aside from these winning businesses, there are other promising concepts that caught my interest such as: OVERHEAT burgers and KABOOM burgers and wings, two businesses that offer an innovative way of serving traditional burgers; agricultural enterprise like AgriBlocks, which sells hollow blocks made of rice hulls and AMO Solution, a 5-in-1 solution that increases the yield of farmers by as much as 100%; PHINIX footware, an enterprise that converts textile waste into fashionable footware and many others.

I am sure that YEDW is just the beginning of these amazing young entrepreneurs’ journey towards success.