I was surprised to find out that four out of nine awardees of the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards are graduates of the Kapatid Mentor ME (KMME) Program, which is the mentoring sessions that we are doing with the Department of Trade and Industry. The microentrepreneurs are part of more than 4,000 graduates of the KMME Program. Considering that almost half of the awardees are Kapatid mentees, it is a testament that the mentorship program work.
This year’s awardees include Estrella Balnao and Romeo Ponio who got a special award in agri micro-business; Jessette Oquendo for community leadership; Marisa Ganding for startup micro-business; Mary Grace Bayalas for the youth microentrepreneur of the year; regional awardees were Maria Elena Estadola, Rosario Amoroto and Arnold Viado; and the national awardee, Erwin Ramos for the Citi Microentrepreneur of the Year. Balnao, Oquendo, Estadola, and Amoroto were part of the KMME Program.
All of the awardees have their share of success stories that put them under the spotlight this year. The grand winner, Erwin Ramos, owner of Erwin and Lanie’s Fishball, discovered a breakthrough in the year 2011 when he eventually developed bidbid fish into various products. Ironically, bibid is considered as a pest for bangus growers, but through his innovation, he was able to diversify all of his products.
Another awardee is KMME graduate Maria Elena Estolada, owner of New Life Crafts – Infinito. She made use of the abundance of coconut twigs in her hometown in Sorsogon and crafted it into good business with an initial loan of P5,000 from People’s Alternative Livelihood Microfinance Foundation of Sorsogon Inc. Elena owes her success to market research, product innovation, and effective marketing strategies.
Rosario Amoroto, who was part of the KMME in Eastern Samar, is the owner of the Island’s Best Food which is into calamansi processing. With her advocacy to help her community, she thought of ways on how to help farmers in her hometown in Homonhon Islands who were struggling with an oversupply of calamansi during harvest season. Luckily, she underwent training facilitated by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). Afterwards, Rosario took an interest in making ready-to-drink calamansi juice. In 2013, Rosario became a member of CARD Bank Inc. and was granted a loan of P3,000.
After the awarding, I talked to the winners and invited them over to my house for an appreciation dinner together with some of our mentors, partners, and advocates. I am proud to say that four out of the nine Citi awardees came from our KMME Program.
Sec. Ramon Lopez also commended them. “They’ve been very inspiring and became role models to fellow microentrepreneurs and to us also. We’re happy to say that many of them were graduates of Kapatid Mentor Me, our free seminar that we jointly do with Go Negosyo which we do nationwide over several provinces. Many of them have borrowed from Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso.”
The Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards is organized by Citi Philippines in partnership with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Citi Foundation, and Microfinance Council of the Philippines Inc. (MCPI) recognizes outstanding microentrepreneurs across the Philippines.
I was part of the National Selection Committee together with Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Nestor Espenilla and Citi Philippines country chair Aftab Ahmed who served as co-chairpersons, and committee members such as SM Investments Corp. vice chair Teresita Sy-Coson; Ayala Corp. president Fernando Zobel de Ayala; GMA Network Inc. chairman and CEO Felipe Gozon; Philippine Daily Inquirer former chairperson Marixi Rufino-Prieto; Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez; SPARK! Philippines trustee Imelda Nicolas; Voyager Innovations Inc. president Orlando Vea; National MSME Development Council – Mindanao Private sector representative Mary Ann Montemayor; and University of the Philippines Diliman chancellor Dr. Michael Tan.
Together with the government and private sector partners, we are working hard to provide development programs for our MSMEs. During our recent Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Council meeting led by Sec. Mon, we had a comprehensive review and report on the accomplishments, strategic goals and plans for the MSMED Plan 2017-2022 with the government and private sector council members.
During the session, future plans for MSME development with access to finance, technology and market were discussed. I gladly relayed private sector initiatives such as the Mentor ME E-Learning together with Singapore Polytechnic and the Youth Entrepreneurship Summit lined up next year.
It will be an exciting year ahead for all our micro entrepreneurs.