PA Joey Concepcion together with Jenny Blancaflor, a micro agri-preneur who attended the free one-on-one mentoring session of Go Negosyo in General Santos City.

Last Monday in General Santos City,  as entrepreneurship adviser to the President and vice chair of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Council,  I attended the Money and Market Encounter supported by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Go Negosyo.

It was a very well attended event, gathering more than 200 region 12 graduate-mentees of the Kapatid Mentor ME Program (KMME) and Kapatid Agri Mentor ME Program (KAMMP).

In my speech, I shared: ‘’From my 13 years of helping micro entrepreneurs in the country, poverty has been the greatest motivator. I cannot assure that all of you will succeed, but from those who are fighting and surviving, we at Go Negosyo will do what we can to give you the right tools to be sustainable.

“With the right mindset and level of creativity and innovation, most of you will shine and persevere in the business community. The government, with the help of DTI, Go Negosyo, and the private sector,  will be here to mentor you especially in areas on how to use and source money to grow your business and on how to reach more markets for your products and services.

“Through hard work and persistence and, of course, prayers, you all will have the chance to make it. Mentorship will not stop at this event. We have an online application, which you can use to get help from our mentors. We will set up a Facebook community  as well of mentees where you can ask mentors for answers.”

I also invited the group to take part in the free one-on-one mentoring session called Mentor Me on Wheels (MMOW), which was being held in SM General Santos, a mere 500 meters away from the venue.

We then proceeded to the MMOW where I was surprised to see more than 600 mentees all lined up for a chance to be mentored by our 70 mentor-entrepreneurs. Before I flew to Cebu that afternoon, I was able to meet five promising entrepreneurs. Let me share with you some of their stories.

One of my mentees was Jenny Blancaflor who works as an offsite operations manager and head of customer happiness department for five years at a digital publishing powerhouse company based in Australia. Due to an unfortunate event last May, she decided to quit her job and attend to the needs of her daughter who has a health condition. Her daughter needs healthy food, which led her to venture into organic farming and poultry. This was when Aianah’s Little by Little Farm was born. As a start-up agri-preneur, she needed funding in order to scale up. Like many other micro-entrepreneurs we have met along the way, funding is one of the most common challenges that hinder their growth. I saw the potential of the business that is why I immediately linked her to financial institutions, which can provide her assistance.

Raymund Elicano produces home interior decorations made of strings. He was also mentored by PA Joey Concepcion.

It was a very fortunate event for another micro-entrepreneur and craftsman Raymund Elicano who was selected as one of my mentees. He honestly did not know about our mentorship program, but was urged by fellow artists to register and try his luck. He, indeed, was lucky as he was handpicked from the crowd. He is a merchandiser for a local brand in General Santos City. At night, he works on his interior decoration crafts which are made from strings and yarns. In order to reach more customers, he plans to formalize the business by registering with the DTI. He also plans to attend an exhibit to be held on the last week of October in Isabela, Cagayan Valley.

Based on our discussion, I saw the passion in his eyes. I mentioned to him that we will shoulder his airfare going to Isabela. I also called my wife, Marissa, who also has an eye for crafts to take a look at Raymund’s work and mentor him. We also linked him to Macky Bongabong, the portrait painter of the President, to guide him. He was extremely happy and could not hold back his emotions.

As serial entrepreneur Jeff Hoffman said during our short forum last week, among the three Ms (money, market and mentorship), mentorship is the most powerful thing. Mentoring the attendees was indeed touching. Knowing their stories, struggles and how they keep themselves motivated gives me inspiration to continue with our revolution. I know that we still have a long way to go, but as more and more entrepreneur-mentors join us on this mission, I am certain that we can help Filipinos scale up and find greater success.

This has always been the goal of Go Negosyo – to inspire and mentor Filipinos and achieve prosperity for all.