The essence of mentorship is key to the growth of small entrepreneurs. I was mentored as a young kid, that is why I strongly believe that bringing mentors closer to the people will help budding business owners embrace the entrepreneurial culture.
Through our program with the departments of Trade and Industry, Agriculture, and Agrarian Reform, we are doing our best to coach micro, small and medium enterprises to elevate their skills and guide them to market not just products and services, but also skills.
Last April 8, we were joined by stellar icons in the creatives industry and mentors for a special rollout of Mentor ME On Wheels which is focused on Filipino creativity and innovation. We were joined by Bernie Liu, CEO and president of Golden ABC Inc.; Rajo Laurel, fashion designer and founder of the House of Laurel; Jay Aldeguer, president of Island Souvenirs Group; Zarah Juan, founder of Zarah Juan; Rikki Dee, CEO Foodlink Group, and Joel Santos, managing director and president THAMES International – entrepreneurs among other creative entrepreneurs from different industries such as fashion, arts and crafts, visual arts, performing arts and others..
We also had former presidential adviser for political affairs Francis Tolentino who highlighted the importance of Negosyo centers and how it helped and is continuously helping our MSMEs across the country.
The free mentorship program was attended by more than 500 mentees and 100 mentors. This is only one of the many MMOW launches to different nationwide. I am sharing the stories of budding business owners and how we guided them in their endeavors.
Our big brother and Go Negosyo mentor Bernie Liu also mentored attendees. One of them was Beverly Alberto who came from San Pedro, Laguna. She is the owner of B Positive Lifestyle and B Positive Graphics and Design. She has been in the fashion and lifestyle industry for more than two years. Prior to joining the event, she was challenged when it comes to pricing and assuring the quality of her products. She also wanted to explore possibilities in the retail clothing business. Bernie, who is the man behind the trailblazing Filipino brand Penshoppe, advised Beverly to stick to her vision, improve the quality and packaging of her products, and change the target market to young professionals.
I believe that being mentored by successful icons in the industry is one way of evaluating current strategies and plans of the company.
Cristina Sanchez, the owner of Craft Filipina Craftika, a three-year-old business, is one of the mentees from Quezon City. She wants to learn how to expand her business locally and gather a list of possible suppliers for her raw materials. What was inspiring about her enterprise was the business itself brings income for her community as she taps members of the community to be part of her business model.I hope that what she learned from her mentor will be applied in her business.
Rikki Dee also joined the mentoring session and mentored Rosemarie Diaz, owner of Eir and Pogs, a business under culinary arts. She plans to supply her brownies to bakeries and coffee shops and also wants to concentrate and improve her two main products by innovating with new flavors to attract more customers. Rikki’s advise to Rosemarie was that she should make sure to have enough capital, to have own website to be able to promote the business, build a physical store, and identify the target market.
As this leg was focused heavily on creativity and innovation, we also had the opportunity to invite Rajo Laurel and Zarah Juan. Luckily, Jonnah Garcia, one of the participants, got the chance to be mentored by both personalities. Jonnah owns Punique, a custom-made bridal bouquet and handmade accessories shop. She shared that Punique aims to revive timeless woven art that can be passed on from generation to generation. She also takes pride in using indigenous Philippine materials to help boost the living of local farmers. They are continuously innovating their designs and utility for both the local and international market.
Both Rajo and Zarah imparted valuable ideas that can be applied in Jonnah’s business. According to Zarah, the brand must have an identity. Rajo shared the importance of mind-mapping and thorough research for possible links and connections for the enterprise.
I agree with what Bernie shared in his speech that there is so much creativity in Filipinos. Quoting, “Hindi tayo mauubusan ng creativity, you know why? Because we are a fun people, we love to enjoy life as it should be enjoyed. Because of that, we have a very good foundation for creativity… This theme of creativity and innovation is very timely because to magnify the creativity of Filipinos we need innovation. Creativity alone will not bring us to a global platform. It is a good foundation, but we need innovation… You have to decide, and I’m sure we are surrounded with a lot of creative people here.”
Secretary Mon Lopez reiterated that what keeps a company going is creativity and innovation, and that continuous innovation is the key. He shared that big companies need innovation for their business model to continue and even their business models have to be innovative, otherwise they would be left behind. The other good thing about instilling creativity and innovation in the business model is it really elevates the business model.
This program is another testament that mentorship is really key in helping our brothers and sisters. With the guidance of mentors, our creatives can continuously learn how to improve their craft and innovate.