Archive for November, 2006

Creativity and Balance

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

Last Thursday, we witnessed the launch in Cebu of the DTI “One Town, One Product” project led by the energetic Undersecretary Carissa Cruz. To have more interaction with the Cebuanos, we mounted a Go Negosyo forum where we invited GoNegosyo mentors such as Julie Gandionco, who is the owner of Julie’s Bakeshop. Julie is a very sweet and humble grandmother and matriarch of the Julie’s Bakeshop, which has over 500 branches.

She is the creative person behind this, but it was her son who expanded the business to what it is today. We also had Justin Uy, the very soft spoken dried mango king. Justin has a real good rags-to-riches story. The Philippine Brand Mango is seen in all Costco and Sam Clubs stores in the US and if I am not mistaken, he has now about 14 big buying stations all over the Philippines. Jay Aldeguer of Island Souvenirs also joined our forum. Jay focused on a growing tourist market in Cebu selling uniquely-designed shirts and other souvenir products.

You can see his stores all over the place. Other panelists include Usec Carissa Cruz and Visayan entreps like Ferlina Galvan (Ibajay Small Coco Farmers Development Cooperative) and Coralie Labra (bags and pillows made of Sinamay). We also had Mayor Bentham dela Cruz from Anlam, Negros Oriental who talked about his OTOP product which is nangka. For the first time aside from being a columnist for Star, I also had to be a co-host with Cito Beltran.

Looking at the furniture, bags and handicrafts from this region, one really wonders how Cebuanos developed this kind of creativity. I even asked the panelists this question but my own answer to this is thru their export products. Exporting to the world requires you to be the best and excellence is the key. The exposure of exporters to a wide range of customers helped in the development of their creativity by teaching them how to improve and create new designs.

As generations passed by, their creativity has been absorbed and applied in other types of products. Even the young and dynamic Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia has an entrepreneurial mind and has good creativity, as we see in her numerous city projects. This to me is why Cebu has achieved so much.

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Last Friday, the Citigroup’s 4th Annual Microentrepreneur of the Year (MOTY) Awards was held at the Metropolitan Museum. Winners for the Masikap Category were as follows: National Winner Consuelo Valenzuela (manufacture of products made of woven leaves of sabutan), Jocelyn Llamoso (manufacturing of handcrafted bags and placemats), Leovigildo Aday (Taho production), and Marites Vistal (buy/sell of palay, rice corn and banana, sari-sari store, passenger jeep operator). For the Maunlad category, the winners were: National Winner Jennilyn Antonio (peanut butter manufacturing); Nolie Estocado (manufacture of tin and wire handicrafts); Rizalina Magdula (junkshop operator); and Luz Pagdanganan (restaurant and catering services). For the Special Awards, Mr. Jose Ortega was awarded the Special Innovation Award (manufacturing of housewares and other dry goods) and Ms. Rizalina Magdula the Special Environment Award (junkshop).

Aside from recognizing the truly inspiring microentrepreneurs, the MOTY Awards likewise highlighted the role of bigger banks in extending support to the rural banks and MFI’s with wholesale lending so they can retail to the microentreps. It was very clear that the loan officers were huge contributors to the success of the entreps by providing them with guidance when needed and sometimes encouragement when tragedy struck.

You can see in the eyes of the winners the struggle that they went through. It was really heartwarming to see Filipinos wanting to succeed in life. Somehow seeing an event like this makes you in touch with the real world out there and I am glad that judges like Fernando Zobel, Marixi Prieto, Tessie Coson Sy and BSP Governor Tetangco took the time to pay tribute to these people. I hope that the P4.2B being lent out to microentrepreneurs will continue to grow each year at a faster rate.

This is a good measure of how entrepreneurship is taking off in the micro sector. In the forthcoming Go Negosyo Para sa OFWs and Balikbayans on December 15 to 17, we expect more than 50 MFI’s to be present to serve the needs of the participants in the forum and exhibits.

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The death of Max Soliven reminds us of how fleeting our life is. Mr. Soliven was someone of great influence as publisher, chairman of the board and columnist of the Philippine Star and his death is a real loss in Philippine journalism. You really don’t know when your time comes so we have to live life to the fullest. As I always tell a lot of friends, the challenge is trying to keep a balanced life.

My friend Franco Delgado, an entrepreneur who has a JV with Thailand’s largest oil company PTT to set up gasoline stations, has been known to enjoy life to the fullest. This guy lives his life like a cat with 9 lives. Franco and I together with another friend Michael Tan (Asia Brewery CEO), had a discussion as to what is more important, having a well balanced life or harmony with one’s self. We had a lot of tequillas that night so we could not convince each other. But I still retain that a balanced life is more important which means giving enough time for business, family, spirituality and a healthy lifestyle.

Others may define success in a purely financial way like assets size but in the end that person might either be unhealthy because of no exercise and a 24/7 workload, or he has forgotten his family because of work. Also in our spiritual life we forget that the source of our success or power is God. It is really not easy to maintain a balanced life. The movie “Click” of Adam Sandler is the best movie to describe this.

As we approach Christmas there seems to be a lot more people smiling and in many social occasions a lot more praises about PGMA and how she is running the government. People seem to be more supportive now. Those who were pessimist and whiners probably didn’t invest in the stock market last year and are probably now regretting and feeling left behind. While those who were confident of the market will have a better Christmas and hopefully give out nicer gifts, as they enjoy the Bull Run in the stock market, which more than doubled.

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Below is a very inspiring letter from Ms. Cynthia Yeadon, an entrepreneur who is now based in UAE.

Dear Sir,

I’m very grateful for sending me the Go Negosyo Mail Blast. Sad to say that I left Manila last September because my husband got a job here in Ras Al Khaimah, U.A.E. to set up an international flight. I am married to a British national , an aircraft engineer and we stayed in the Philippines for almost 9 months and within this period I was able to put up a food cart Shawarma business with two outlets.

It’s really doing good because of the special sauce that I am using. It’s so inspiring and fulfilling when you get compliments from your customer who tasted your product. In fact I was planning to put up another outlet in Makati, near my condo unit in Gil Puyat Ave. I know it would be a very potential outlet because my condo is along the place of the call centers. Unfortunately I was not able to do it because my husband got a call from his colleague to come to U.A.E .

I was left behind for a month to sell my foodcart business, which I did. It’s so frustrating isn’t it? Anyway, I am very glad and grateful to receive some more news about Go Negosyo, where I was so inspired and got some tips on how to start and put a small business like food cart business. Every Sunday I have to read newspaper just to take a look and catch up any activities of Go Negosyo, where I learned and got inspired to start a small business, although it’s not easy for me because I’ve been away from the Philippines for almost 15 years, but because of the encouragement and inspiring message of the successful entrepreneurs I got the courage to do it.

I owe this from the people who made and contributed to Go Negosyo a successful organization. To be honest with you the fist time I attended the Go Negosyo is for the sake of curiosity, and I never thought that out of my curiosity it made my dream come true, to become an entrepreneur. Joey, hope you will continue sending me some news about Go Negosyo.

Thank and more power.

Cynthia Yeadon

Let's Keep Inspiring

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

Manny Pacquiao’s win comes at the right time making more people proud to be Filipinos.  Monique Lhuillier’s fashion show elicited the same response.  Manila’s high society was proud to have a Filipina making it in high fashion. 

This is exactly what this country needs, Filipinos being proud of their own country and being able to see that we do have a role in the future. Moreover, the developments of Atong Ang being brought to justice and Honasan’s capture resulted in a different tone and outlook for the Philippines.

The same positive atmosphere can be seen in the entrepreneurship community.  We too have our own share of notable winners.  About three weeks ago Liza Gokongwei’s Entrepreneur Magazine awarded the 10 Small and Medium Entrepreneurs for the year 2006 at the RCBC Plaza. This year’s winners were Ricardo Andres (Candy Corner), Oscar Chan (San Jose Kitchen Cabinets), Nikki Ng (Banana Peel), Happy Ongpauco (World Topps), Marshall Ongteco and Jun Ongteco (WishCraft), Ardy and Tingting Roberto (Salt and Light Ventures ), Kamela Seen  (Plato Wraps), Glenn Anthony Soco (Coffee Dream ), Teddy Sy  (Comic Alley Corporation ) and Richard Yang (Catalytx Advertising, Inc.). 

Witnessing an event like this is so heart warming especially upon seeing Ardy Roberto, son of marketing guru Ned Roberto, win with his business Salt and Light Ventures.  Ardy’s business is a very successful events company which promotes a lot of leadership series seminars.  I am sure his father is very proud of him.

Aside from Ardy was Bubu of Candy Corner.  This business is a husband and wife team of Ricardo and Rosemarie “Bubu” Andres.   Ricky received the award and I am sure his wife is very proud since she is also the creative person behind Candy Corner.  Again it is very critical in one’s success aside from the having the right character is the mentorship support they get from their parents, spouses and professionals. This is also what the online mentoring program of is trying to achieve when you visit the site.

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It was worth sitting down during the screening process because you can also get inspired while watching the stories of these microentreps.  Again most of the nominees were women.  In fact almost all the winners were women and only one male entrep made it. I am glad more banks are pursuing an awareness campaign for the need to support microentreps since these people have a very high repayment rate.  It was clear that MFI’s and rural banks were the ones lending to microentreps due to the size of the loans.  We hope more banks would help microentreps either by supporting existing MFI’s or by creating their own MFI’s.

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I had to fly to Cebu yesterday to support the super energetic Undersecretary Carrisa Cruz’s “One Town One Product” project.   OTOP Philippines is an adoption of Japan’s successful “One Village, One Product” project for regional development.  OTOP in the Philippines is a priority program of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to promote entrepreneurship and to create jobs at the local level through the development of products and services that are considered a competitive advantage. We took part in the event by hosting a Go Negosyo Goes OTOP forum featuring Julie Gandionco of Julie’s Bakeshop, Jay Aldeguer of Island Souvenirs, Justine Uy of Profoods, and other successful OTOP entreps from the Visayan region.

The concept behind OTOP is to develop a skill that when you think of a town you will immediately think of its product.  For example when you think of Marikina, what comes to your mind is “shoes”. When you think of Baguio I am sure many will think of walis and Good Shepherd strawberry jam.  Paete is another example because they are really known for their wooden carvings. 

OTOP is really about getting each province to develop their core competencies or the products they are strong in, which will eventually result in a more focused approach for entrepreneurs and more focused support program from government.  Many entrepreneurs who have achieved success is because of focus.  For example the Sy’s expanded malls because that was the area they really excelled in and now they have become the best at it. 

The people that I have mentioned here are only part of a huge pool of brilliant individuals who have made the country proud.  Let’s draw inspiration from all the positive things happening in the country.  The time is now for the Philippines to shine.  I am sending my congratulations again to super featherweight champion Manny Pacquiao and World Pool Champion Ronnie Alcano.  I hope those around you will not convince you to run for office.  Your roles are best performed when you do what you do best and that inspires our countrymen to be proud they are Filipinos.

What you are doing contribute not only to the economy but also to the optimism for the Philippines.  Congratulations to world-class designer Monique Lhuillier, Tina Ansaldo-Ocampo who recently got her bags accepted in prestigious stores, to Myla Villanueva for being the first woman in Asia to head the Mobile Innovation Forum at the 3GSM World Congress 2007 in Barcelona,  to Entrepreneur Magazine’s 10 Small and Medium Entrepreneurs of the Year and Citibank’s Microentrepreneurs of the Year.  May you all continue to inspire Filipinos.  Congratulations to you all. Year 2007 here we come!

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This question was addressed to Mr. Francisco Buencamino and Mr. Anthony Innocencio:

Good day sir. I’m presently working as a tech support for one of the call center company here in Ortigas.  I’m writing to you to seek some advise regarding starting up a business. I’m planning to invest a certain percentage of my savings for the business which I think would help increase my profit. Basically, I’m just a newbie in terms of business transactions. 

I plan to be a chicken supplier here on our place and I already started contacting distributors for Mandaluyong and Pasig.  However, they are also getting supply directly from a large distribution company.  What I’m planning to do is to go directly to them or perhaps to tap in their farms.

I really want to start the business but I’m quite afraid of the consequences I may get from it.  I know it’s part of it but I just like to have some idea of how the “ball is being played”

By the way, I also planned on investing on mutual funds or insurance for a certain number of years. Do you have any preferred or ideal insurance company and company that offers good return of investment should I pursue such project?

Thank you and hoping for your reply.

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Dear Chris,

Thank you for seeking advice.

Going into the chicken business can be considered an “overcrowded opportunity”. If you are entering into this interest for the first time, and you have no economical source of chicken like a farm supplier or a processor, you may find yourself very far forward into the totem pole of costs because there will be many dealers already. You found this out yourself.

It may be best to re-visit your opportunities of doing something else with the chicken. One activity that you may want to get into with chicken is to put out a “value-added” product. There are many approaches: process the fresh chicken into parts (usually in cuts of 8 to 9 pieces) as this is an activity that restaurants find laborious to do. You would then be selling a convenience product. Another example is to process these cut-ups into breaded chicken using your own recipe that is uniquely tasty.

Or, you may even think of deboning chicken meat for sandwich purposes, pack them frozen, and sell them as boneless chicken meat to restaurants, canteens, cafeterias, and other institutional users.

The value you would add, therefore, to the fresh chicken is the labor of converting it to some usable product to save time and wasted parts that kitchens/processors lose in the process.

Investment in mutual funds and insurance instruments are “games” for big boys who use excess funds that are not in use. If your source of money is your savings, you will need something that will yield you very quick returns on high turnover, even if the unit yields are lower. You will find mutual funds very slow growing in an economy that is bearish at this time.

Do not forget that the success of your venture will depend on your intended market. You must first establish your target market and build up the confidence that you can tap into this chosen market. Finding a demand which nobody has yet seen is a true opportunity. If you decide that you want to grab hold of the chicken market, then discover what that niche demand is and then invade it.

An example of this opportunity is our exports of yakatori chicken. We have chicken, we have low cost labor, and we have the bamboo or wooden sticks to make the barbeque chicken (yakatori). The opportunity to export frozen chicken yakatori sticks therefore opened up as a demand in Japan, and now China. This has become big business.

If this sounds too big for you, it may be so. So, lower your sights and targets to what you can do for the domestic scene.

I hope I have helped you somewhat in creating an approach to your intended venture. The rest of what you do will depend on your own creativity and resourcefulness.

Good luck, and do not hesitate to contact me again.


(Mr. Buencamino is the current Executive Director of the Tuna Canners Association of the Philippines and the Phil. Association of Meat Processors, Inc.)

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Dear Chris,

It’s good that you are looking at other opportunities to increase your income.  Trading especially on basic commodities is a good entry point.  I presume that you have checked your market for the chickens; what volume, weights, how regular is the requirements, purchasing price by your clients, how do they want it-fresh chilled or frozen etc. If you already have these information, tingnan mo if it’s worth the effort. 

Pag-aralan mong mabuti ang market mo; friends, neighbors, canteens, restaurants and or institutions such as hotels, hospitals, etc. Trading in frozen products may be cumbersome and messy. 

You may be able to do the trading and distribution on your day-off.  You may be able to earn about P10 – P15 pesos per bird (for white chickens) and about P50 per bird for free-range poultry, so if you could trade a hundred birds or so a week, it may be worth your while. With P10T to P20T capital, you can start with the trading.  Check the suppliers of the goods, you may have to work with area distributors until you can establish your volume.

Going straight to the farm source may not be the most cost-effective move for a highly traded commodity such as chickens.  Matrabaho ang processing and you might not be as efficient in doing it.

After college, trading with Baguio vegetables and chickens was one of the first ventures we went into.  Maliit ang puhunan and matrabaho but you learn a lot about the rudiments of the trade that will never be taught in school.  You have to overcome your fear; ang maaari mong mawala o malugi may be your calculated part of your savings, but the experience and the nuisance of the business would all be worth it. 

If you do make good at it, like a lot of people we know, who did, malaking negosyo ito.  May isang kaibigan tayo na dati owner jeep ang gamit nya to trade dressed chickens sa mga kaibigan at clients, ngayon dalawang refrigerated vans na ang gamit trading as much as 1000 pcs a day.  Sipag at Tiyaga and a lot of determination ang kailangan.

Best Regards,

(Mr.Inocencio is the owner of AP Inocencio farms which is primarily engaged in livestock and poultry production such as free-range chickens.)

A Brand in People's Mind

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

Last week I talked about women in negosyo citing that 90 percent of micro finance lending institutions lend to women. As I immersed myself more in an entrepreneurial advocacy, I find this to be quite true.

I was invited by Citigroup country officer Sanjiv Vohra to judge in a Citibank Micro-entrepreneur of the Year Award. What surprised me was the fact that most of the nominees were women. My fellow judges Tessie Sy-Coson, Marixi Rufino-Prieto, Fernando Zobel de Ayala, Lance Gokongwei, Dr. Mario Lamberte and Gov. Amando Tetangco Jr., were just as surprised as I was.

Indeed in a short time, GoNegosyo has developed itself as a brand, or better yet as a battlecry, that we hope will subliminally inspire and call the Filipinos to action.

A lot of women during the early days of putting this up together have helped me in the process. Anna Periquet, daughter of “Mr. PCCI”, Aurelio Periquet Jr., is a strong supporter who helped me build the network. She is an entrepreneur, too. SME queen Mel Alonzo of the Department of Trade has been there as well. At first, she thought that this advocacy would duplicate her job, but I told her my role is to focus on changing the mindset and foster a culture of entrepreneurial optimism among the Filipinos, and to complement the various SME programs and projects that DTI has been doing well. There was also Imee Madarang, who linked us with the entrepreneurship educators led by Dean Danny Cabulay of FEU.  Imee worked hard towards our very first initiative in launching GoNegosyo at the Every Nation Hall in Fort Bonifacio.

The launch was so successful that it even caused us a problem.  The management of the venue, Every Nation Hall, had to close the doors because more than 2,000 people had already filled up the auditorium. There were long lines of people outside just waiting to listen to the prominent entrepreneurs’ speeches. I was amazed and overwhelmed to see the hunger of so many people and even teachers from various parts of the country who wanted to learn and be inspired.

That was then I knew GoNegosyo was off to a good start.

The next day before the opening of the expo at Market! Market! I got a call from Anna Periquet saying that there could be a coup. I called Arthur Yap and he confirmed there was a problem. It was all over the radio.

Wow! What a disaster! We had a 6,000 sq meter-trade hall filled with booths with exciting business ideas and a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs waiting for opening at 10am! But we had to push through. We had to walk our talk and precisely to drive home our point for our kababayans to stop with the unproductive pre-occupation of watching the political telenovela and instead focus their energies into productive and positive undertakings like getting into business, just like what people in more progressive countries do! 

So on that day, all three invited senators showed up: Senators Mar Roxas, Manny Villar and Kiko Pangilinan. Also present during the ribbon cutting were Mayors Tinga and Capco and BPI President Gigi Montinola.

Still, thousands of people flocked to join the opening of the expo, unperturbed by the coup attempt happening in the same area.  This showed the strong interest of many people to look for business opportunities.  But we still need to work on the mindset of the majority to have a more optimistic attitude and be more productive members of our society.

Amidst the height of the coup attempt, we got the President to come for the second time with the help of Sec. Yap.  Her first day out of Malacañang since the coup attempt was to go to the GoNegosyo event. I admired her for the courage she showed.  Despite the advice from her security group not to go, she still did.

From this historic event, GoNegosyo continued to make its name on top of people’s minds in terms of mentorship and business inspirations.

We have already done several forums and exhibits to realize our thrusts. We’ve had Micronegosyo expo in March which showed small businesses people can get into. The event was held in the Army Gym with once again an overwhelming full-packed venue. PGMA attended and even led the discussion in one of the forums, a dialogue with micro- entrepreneurs.

From there, a GoNegosyo teen edition followed in Baguio City in July where over 2,000 students attended. This is in partnership with DepEd with its Executive Director Joey Pelaez rallying the students. Then GoNegosyo started to go to different cities like in Marikina.

The next big gathering was the successful TechnoNegosyo in September with Myla Villanueva as co-chair of the event. This was an attempt to help Filipinos look at technology business models out there like internet cafés, web design, computer electronics, distributorship and services.

It became very clear that we need to help Filipinos improve their business models since the country is far behind in creating technology entrepreneurs. So, together with our major supporters who have a very keen interest in building the ecosystem for technopreneurs, we believe that good things are possible if only we think positively. Most of our partners are led by La Salle graduates, but I guarantee you it was unintentional.  TechnoNegosyo partners included TJ Javier of Microsoft, the super supportive Butch Jimenez of PLDT/Smart, Gerry Ablaza of Globe, Nilo Cruz of HP, Myla Villanueva, the pretty inventor of the system that runs Smart Bro, Ricky Banaag of Intel, Jajo Quintos of IBM,  and DOST Secretary Alabastro.

This group will continue to work together to see how we can improve and encourage more business in technology. A finding from our research which will be released next year will show that science and technology needs more support than any other area.

Recently we also started to work with Gawad Kalinga where we hope to partner with them in supporting the productivity side of their community development.

There are also organizations who show their support by giving due recognition to people who have succeeded in business.  There’s SGV Foundation with their Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines Awards and Citigroup’s Microentrepreneur of the Year Awards. There is also the Young Entrepreneurs Organization Awards and Liza Gokongwei’s Entrepreneurship magazine’s Ten Inspiring Small and Medium Entrepreneur Awards. There are also other private organizations which we are partnering with as we share the same entrepreneurship advocacy. 

HSBC’s CEO Warner Manning has his entrep caravan and business plan competitions, there’s also Butch Francisco who constantly promotes entrepreneurship thru his Rotary projects. In the end it’s the big corporations that must embrace the GoNegosyo mission of the “big brother-small brother” approach, developing business models and partnering/nurturing small entrepreneurs.

It’s only been a year yet we believe we have achieved something for the benefit of the country. So as 2006 meets its offing, we want to leave with one final salvo that may change how our overseas Filipino workers and balikbayans live their lives. This December, we will have Go Negosyo Para sa OFWs at Balikbayans. Let’s bear in mind that these people are, in a way, our angel investors and we must help them invest their money wisely.

To those who have helped us and inspired us, like Nanay Coring of National Bookstore, truly my inspiration, thank you and together let’s all build the GoNegosyo advocacy that will once and for all change the negative mindset of Filipinos to something positive that will lead them to take action now and start putting their destinies into their own hands. We adhere to a strong belief that: If you can teach a nation to fish, you feed a nation for many lifetimes.  This is the mission statement of GoNegosyo.

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Hello Sir, magandang araw po sa iyo.  Ako po ay isang estudyante. I am planning to have a business but I have only a 60,000 capital. My ate has a friend from Korea and he already came to the Philippines to talk about the business. He doesn’t have an idea about the market here in Philippines, that’s why he asked me and my sister to find a great business and he will be the one to finance us. But we don’t know what business to recommend.  I hope you can help us sir.  Thank you very much and god bless


Dr. Hortaleza writes:

Hi Jay-ar! Thanks for writing!
It’s good to know that more and more Filipinos are considering starting up their own businesses.  By your interest, it means that the entrepreneurship fervor is slowly but surely engulfing through the minds of our people, especially to our youth.

In considering to launch a new business, (1) Check whether you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur.  Determination coupled with a strong sense of ambition and a generous amount of self-belief are just a few of the traits you need to start up your business.  (2) Be innovative – offer something new and different, it will definitely be a big advantage if you are not just a “me-too”. (3) Many entrepreneurs start businesses based on their hobbies (if you like reading, you may try to open a bookstore cum coffeeshop) or  particular skills (computer programming – you might go for website development or computer rentals ala internet café). With your start-up capital of P60,000, you may opt for a small venture, with only family members/close friends to help you out. 

At least, you can negotiate for a later pay with them when your business hits off the grounds.
Ultimately, there are no hard and fast rules.  The success of any business largely depends on the character of the person behind it.  In your case, as you start young, you have plenty of time to discover what will work for you.  Just bear in mind to enjoy your business, you’ll be surprised the financial rewards will come sooner.

Happy Business Hunting!

Rolando B. Hortaleza, M.D.
Chairman and CEO
Splash Group of Companies

(Dr. Rolando Hortaleza is Chairman and CEO of Splash Group of Companies. Splash is the only wholly owned Filipino company among the top 10 companies in the Philippine cosmetics and toiletries industry.)

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Dear Usec. Alonzo,

I am a Filipino American (but do not still possess dual citizenship) who would like to start a business in the Philippines perhaps in the service sector. Are there any restrictions and/or limitations that I should know of? I am planning to start a garage repair shop for high performance cars at the same time conduct a buy and sell operation for auto parts.

Can you also recommend where I should start and where to procure the needed equipments/tools and skilled labor to do the job. What kind of capital is needed? Do I have to have a business plan even if I will finance the operation with my own funds?”


Dear Ed,

We sought the assistance of the Board of Investments for the appropriate reply. The central law applying to foreign investments is the Foreign Investments Act of 1991, which established the framework for the government’s policy on foreign investments. With the liberalization of the foreign investments law, 100% foreign equity may be allowed in all areas of investments except financial institutions and those included in the sixth regular Foreign Investments Negative List which took effect on November 24, 2004. 

Since your products or services will be geared to the domestic market, the paid up capital requirement if it will be 100% foreign owned is US$ 200,000. The buy and sell operation must be done on a wholesale basis. 

As to your request where you can procure the needed equipment and skilled labor for your business, please contact the Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing Association of the Philippines. You can also visit their website at Tesda has the list of skilled graduates who can do the job.

Should you still need further clarification, please contact our One Stop Action Center (OSAC) of the Board of Investments at telephone number  (632)-897-6682. 

Very truly yours, 

Small and Medium Enterprises Development

(Usec. Mel Alonzo is Chair and CEO of the Small Business Guarantee and Finance Corporation. SB Corporation is the DTI-attached government financial institution which provides credit guarantee and financing to the small and medium enterprises.)

Women in Negosyo

Thursday, November 9th, 2006

Are women naturally born entrepreneurs? For us men, a “yes” would be hard to accept especially in cases when this statement becomes more of a fact than a fiction. Being an entrepreneur myself and seeing a lot of men who have been very successful in there own negosyo, I can affirm that this statement is indeed true.

Looking around the micro enterprises which contribute almost 90% to the Philippine economy, from the sari-sari stores to laundry shops to eateries and the biyaheras, I’ve seen the negosyo run by female entrepreneurs.

According to the Central Bank’s report in June 2004, microfinance institutions with its 3.1 billion peso facilities assist micro enterprises, among which 90% of their funds are given to women.  Perhaps a reason behind this is the high rate of reported repayments when MFI’s lend to women.  I guess MFI’s favor women because they know how to budget and most of the earnings go back to the business.

What do women possess that makes them natural entrepreneurs? I guess women holding the cash of the house have an early training in practical budgeting which have been passed on from generation to generation. The best business schools have been enrolling women like my alma mater La Salle (oh, I also have to include Kevin Belmonte’s alma mater, Ateneo)

The University of Asia and the Pacific for sometime didn’t accept women into their entrepreneurship program because they felt that women have this skill already. But now they have shifted gears and did the opposite.  Vivienne Tan, who is one of the trustees of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, has decided to go on her own with her Entrepreneur School of Asia.

Vivienne has in her the creativity of her father Lucio Tan and has decided to help people to have their own business through her educational institution. Liza Gokongwei, daughter of John Gokongwei, is a very aggressive woman building one of the largest magazine collections in the country. She started Summit Media and is now known for famous magazines like Entrepreneur magazine. There is also Irene Martel-Francisco, publisher of high society magazine, Tatler Philippines.  In the same field, Sari Yap who founded Mega Magazine & Publications Inc. also started her business and invited investors to make it where it is today.

We all are familiar with the specialty foods we buy which come from women entrepreneurs. In fact, the popular weekend market in Salcedo is filled with women entrepreneurs and their signature dishes.  To mention a few, there are the Vargas known for their butter cakes, Dimpy Camera for her frozen brazo de mercedes, Chickee Banzon for her Pascale flavored ice tea, Maribel Van Hoven for her Dumaguete delicacy Budbud Kabog, Cely Kalaw for her bicol express and crabs with aligue, Michelle d’Orival for her French cuisine, Michelle Concepcion for her puto in various flavors and Michelle Santos who is famously known for her Ineng’s Special Barbecue.

As a matter of fact I have been telling my sister Michelle, who has her Putong Ube and Sana Banana, to resign from her job and focus on her entrepreneurial career.  But I guess she loves the perks working for Northwest. She’ll hate me for mentioning this. My other sister Celine has her preschool that caters to the expat community.  My other sisters Liza and Vina are beginner entreps, selling Karma outfits and are still part of the underground economy.

My good friend Harley Sy’s sister Tessie Coson who heads the Sy group has also the same successful path in business. Myla Villanueva, a geek entrepreneur who’s very rare to find, has done well with Meridian which makes the Smart Bro wireless internet running today. She sold the business for a good price.  There is also Chit Juan, owner of the famous Figaro coffee.  Chit is a very big supporter of Go Negosyo.  There is also cosmetic surgery expert Dr. Vicki Belo, a Go Negosyo fan who heads Belo Medical Group Inc.  And the list goes on and on.  So are we men now going to exchange roles making us take the back seat? Interesting question…

But I definitely believe women as natural entrepreneurs and I salute them!  We need more like you to move this country forward.

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Dear. Ms. Vivienne,

I’m chan miranda and I have a business concept ready to be launched…its called E-Apply. It is the first company in the world dedicated in creating education process solutions to be outsourced worldwide. We are now creating a website that could serve as an ultimate search engine in the world of education.

Aside from that, we have finalized our application and enrollment system that would be used by universities around the world. We have approached many universities and they have inclined to use our “one system for education”. I have everything in placed except funding…I would like to send you our complete business plan for your viewing.

I have shown this concept to some of the PCE people like Miss Imee Madarang and Sir Dickie and they all loved the idea. I hope we could work out something regarding our concept.

Dear Ms. Chan,

First let me congratulate you for taking the entrepreneurial plunge. Entrepreneurship is a path that many aspire for but never really pursue. You are already quite unique in that regard.

Secondly, I applaud you for converting your concept into a business plan-it is a key element in the entrepreneurial process. Your idea sounds very exciting given that we have barely touched the surface on technology applications for the education industry. The possibilities are actually limitless.

Moving forward, one of the key traits of successful entrepreneurs is the ability to “execute effectively.” Many have made a career out of “business plan making” and even win business plan competitions. Unfortunately, it stops there for most of them. They are not true entrepreneurs in my book.

Whenever my college students in the Entrepreneurs School of Asia (ESA) present their business plans to me I always need to be convinced of their execution strategy and the proof of their ability to execute.  This is something I hope I can be comfortable with when I read your business plan.

On the bright side, the angel investors and venture capitalists are active once again in the country and I could refer you to the network of investors that are linked to the Entrepreneurs School of Asia. However, these investors get hundreds of business plans a week and in the end, they decide to fund the person who they believe can convert their great concepts and ideas into reality.

I am really looking forward to reading your business plan. If your concept is really executable, then aside from funding referrals, I could connect you to the partner universities of  ESA in the UK, Australia, US, and China.  You can email me at  Once again congratulations and good luck to all your endeavors.


Vivienne Tan
Executive Chairperson
Entrepreneurs School of Asia

(Vivienne Tan is the daughter of taipan Lucio Tan and co-founder of the Entrepreneurs School of Asia. She is also one of the trustees of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship.)

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Dear Ms. Villanueva,

Hi. I am Lui Joson and I am interested to set-up a website for a particular market segment, the opportunity of which I am very much aware.  However, I do not have any idea on how these websites can make money.  Is it from advertising, or from usage, etc.? Maybe you can link me to persons who have successfully done something similar to this. I am aware of a lot of websites that you just log-in for free and you get a lot of benefits without you paying for anything. In which case, how do those websites earn?

Thanks and I hope to have your response soonest

Dear Mr Joson,

I wish you could have given me more information regarding the particular market segment you are referring to serving in your website opportunity, for me to focus an answer.  Well, there are various models globally that enable free-use websites revenue streams, but it is always because of an underlying service, and also because of the scale at which these websites attract users. 

For instance, the most famous website portals, Google and Yahoo, uses its various services including search, e-mail, news, instant messaging, video and photo sharing, blogs and other free services, to attract millions of users around the world to enter its portals.  Since it has this loyal user base and traffic that is growing exponentially and daily, they then attract advertisers to pay every time a user clicks into an advertisement of a service as a result of a search.  Google and Yahoo then makes money primarily as a virtue of the actual clickstreams that an advertiser turns into a pageview of the advertisers own products and services site. 

There are also other models like my favorite iTunes, which has chosen to become primarily a media company.  iTunes sells videos and music downloads which you can load into your computers and of course listen to using the venerable iPod music player. 

Another category that is heating up is the area of user-generated content and social networking sites.  Portals like Friendster, and YouTube pioneered in these areas, with the biggest of them all, MySpace, at 1 billion page views daily and accounting for 82% of the traffic in this category.  They do not sell anything yet (they have 20 new products in the pipeline which I am sure will have set revenue models), and grew literally by connecting friends, and their friends and their friends, who share common interests of example photos, music, gossip and well, allow for free and self-censored self-expression. 

Then, there is eBay, who sells anything anyone wants to sell, matching buyer and seller, building a global marketplace, and earning from commissions from the trade. EBay acquired the popular Skype from young entrepreneurs Niklas Zenstrom and Janus Friis for $ 2.6 Billion, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has this year acquired MySpace from young entreps Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe for $580 million, and of course, Google’s market cap is at its current trading price of $475 per share, makes it the third most valuable technology company in the US only behind Microsoft and Cisco and surpassing IBM. This values its founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page’s holdings at $14 Billion dollars each today. 

Businesses have become worth more to its entrepreneur founders when they were selling it for its potential, than during the business itself, and continue to grow value for themselves and their stock holdings as the market rewards its successes as a public company.

These enormous valuations are of course a result of the huge addressable markets globally, which the Internet allows, whose market cap potential may not necessarily be available to web entreps in the Philippines (YET!!) but we can glean some learnings:

Knowing very little about what you want to do, I would ask myself the following questions if I were to start a web business:

  1. What need, behavior, desire is your site trying to serve? Will users come back to your site?  What’s the X-factor that makes it different?
  2. How do I monetize these page views or clickstreams?  Meaning, while there are various payment options such as credit cards, mobile payments, how will you get paid for your products and services through your site? In the country, there are very little payment mechanisms viable, but maybe this is where the magic sauce can lie, if you can find a good and easy way to monetize your sites services.
  3. Will it build a community to generate enough traffic and scale for it to attract investors or advertisers? When I say community, I mean common interests, demographics, needs of users that create continued visits.  For example, some Philippine sites are developing themselves to cater to the most obvious target markets…overseas foreign workers, and building simple business models as sending gifts back home.  It is limited, but has potential to get aggregated into some other OFW related services in the future.

Hope these views help. 


(Myla Villanueva founded the mobile application development firm Wolfpac and broadband wireless provider Meridian, two companies acquired by Smart Communications, Inc.)

Lessons Learned

Thursday, November 2nd, 2006

Wow. What an overwhelming response from so many friends who got a copy of The Philippine Star last Thursday as well as to those who browsed over the internet! I had all but praises for the first column. The first one, of course, came from my wife, who texted all her batchmates, relatives, and friends to read it. They can’t say it was bad, can they?

Seriously, the was alive with an increase in page views. We got more than 3,500 hits with 63% unique visitors from all around the world that day. It’s a good indication that the site is really on its track to being the country’s business portal.

A lot of people tested the site to see if it was for real. Those who wondered if they would get answers from a mentor (those people who suspected that we had secretaries answering questions for us) got real business advice from our GoNegosyo mentors. Personally, I take time to answer the questions forwarded to my personal email via my Blackberry phone. Though sometimes I have to pass some inquiries to our mentors who are experts in the related field. They are very much eager to help people.

We hope to see the website come to a more active and busy life such as ours. In time, business ideas will be uploaded. We are set to include in the website great business ideas for free in the coming days like food cart franchising and internet centers. People now can clearly see what’s in and what’s not and do something to make those concepts a reality.

A few days ago, I was invited to speak before a rotary club. My fault was to underestimate the number of attendees who are interested to know what it takes to be an entrepreneur. I’ve realized there are so many who want the business but less sure if it will work.

Hopefully my words of encouragement to people to be optimistic sinked in after my talk. Whenever I’m asked to deliver a speech, I give an extemporaneous one, as I feel it’s best if it comes from the heart. My topic had something to do with being “never too late.” It is quite true seeing my grandfather started Concepcion Industries at age 60 and he passed away at 75. He was a remarkable man who had an example that one can be an entrepreneur even at an old age.

Nonoy Colayco who is a close friend of mine started his own business at the age of 55. Sorry Nonoy if i had to mention your age. But Level Up which is known for Ragnarok placed a remarkable valuation in just a couple of years after PLDT bought in to it.  This was the same message I told the FINEX people two days after.

I guess more and more people really want to be inspired these days, regardless of age.  I always mention in my speeches the importance of mentoring our children properly. As parents and as their teachers, we can help spell the outcome of the characters of our kids—the confidence that we try to make them learn, and the right values that they will use later in life.  This applies to every home, whether you have a big one or not. What we teach them would mean the difference. I have seen it through countless successful entrepreneurs out there. 

While I share this with you, I became guilty one time of not walking my own talk.  Luckily I got the message clearly when I realized I was wrong. I’m a believer of continuous learning and I think there is always wisdom in experience.

Over the past years, my wife and I got into the sport of diving and so did our children. One day my wife told me she wanted to invest in a dive shop business. I told her it won’t work. I said it’s better to just keep diving as our fun sport.

For some time, this became an issue that brought a big fight. I consistently told her she won’t succeed and stressed that she will fail if she pushed through. Still, she started it with her dive instructors and named it Pacifica.

Now, she and her partners are doing fairly well, exactly the opposite of my prediction.  I guess my mistake was to discourage her. I thank God she didn’t listen to me. I guess we, husbands, think we know everything. We sometimes tend to forget that women are naturally born entrepreneurs.

So to the husbands out there, give your wife a chance. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Encourage them if they really do have a good idea. It may sound bad the first time but eventually, it may turn out good and it will make us realize how wrong we are.

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Dear Sec. Yap,

I am Mr. Oliver Angeles. My family ang I are currently living in England. In time wewould like to go back to Philippines since my heart really belongs there. Since I was small, I am interested about animals. When we go back to our country, do you think that livestock will still be a good investment? And what kind of livestock would be better to start with?

Dear Oliver,

Investing in dairy animals has been found to be a good option for some overseas Filipinos.  Some of them invest directly by buying their own dairy cattle, carabao or goat and starting their own farms. Some of them tap their own relatives to look after the farm. When the farm is located along a milk route, the dairy animal owner can sell the milk to the dairy plant in that dairy zone.  There are 14 dairy zones in different parts of the country. 

There is also a scheme whereby an investor could contract to purchase a dairy animal with a dairy enterprise that will buy the animal for the investor and put the animal in the care of a dairy farmer. 

A sharing arrangement is agreed upon among the dairy enterprise, the investor and the farmer who will take care of the animal.  A regular report is sent to the investor about calving and milk production of the animal owned by the investor and the investor’s share in proceeds from milk sales is deposited by the enterprise in the investor’s bank account. 

Dairy cattle, carabao and goats are raised by dairy farmers in the Philippines. The choice is usually dependent on availability of stocks in the area.  Please visit the NDA website, for additional information or send your other questions to:

Thank you for your interest in the Philippine livestock sector.

Arthur C. Yap
Secretary of Agriculture

( Arthur Yap is a lawyer by profession. He holds a Juris Doctor’s degree at the School of Law of the Ateneo de Manila University.)

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Hi Ms. Delby,

I just wanted to ask if there is a market for capiz shells here in the Philippines and or abroad? I have a friend who has abundant supply of capiz shells which I believe are used to make accessories or added to design furnitures. We are really hoping to make business out of these raw materials and to find markets here and abroad. I am tired of being an employee, I guess it’s time to venture into something different.


Dear Gimmy,

I am in a creative and highly competitive field of business. I know for a fact that there is a resurgence of interest in natural materials, indigenous materials, and handmade products. Capiz shells are made by nature – so my instinctive response to your question is “Yes!” there is a market for capiz shells in the Philippines and in abroad.

However, this has to be collaborated with sound market research – which is the direction towards which i shall point you. To start a business, it would be advisable to invest a lot of your time and energy towards gathering data to double check whether the idea is financially viable. May I suggest you make a business plan – just to keep more focused and add some framework to your thoughts?

Also, please check with DTI (Dept. of Trade and Industry), CITEM (Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions) . Maybe they can link you with Capiz users in the Philippines. CITEM holds a trade fair twice a year i believe – and on the last day, the trade fair is open to the public.

You might want to check with the exporters over there as to whether they require capiz, in what quantities, in what processed form, etc. It would be a start to simply ask for their business cards and then email them after the trade fair. Better still if you could get the list of exporters from Citem.

Here’s wishing you the best in your upcoming business!


( A New York-trained Fashion Designer, Delby Bragais is currently the only Internationally Certified Image Consultant in the Philippines today – aligned with the Association of Image Consultants International based in the United States.)