Archive for December, 2006

My Father the Social Entrepreneur

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

Today let me dedicate this column to my father, who is more popularly known as Joecon, as he celebrates his 75th birthday tomorrow, together with his twin brother, my uncle Raul Concepcion. I will have to pre-empt a column that I had prepared for the new year, which will just come out a week later.

My life’s journey over the last 48 years has been a tremendous experience for me because of my Dad, and let me share some stories with all of you who follow this column (which I learned to my amazement is quite a number, although I’m sure it will never be as many as those who read my wife’s tita, Rosalinda Orosa, or my friend, Babes Romualdez, who both write for the Star).

My father took up agriculture majoring in Soils at the Araneta Institute of Agriculture, which is now known as De La Salle Araneta University after the family decided to donate the school to the Christian Brothers. This is where he met my mom, Marivic. His future in-laws, my Lolo Salvador and Lola Victoria Araneta, owned the school, so how could my father fail in his course, especially when he was dating the daughter of the owners. Sometimes I wonder what made my Dad take up Agriculture, since his twin went to Accounting at UCLA. It’s funny how despite their being twins, their courses in college were so different and how later in life, they pursued such different paths.

But being twins also had certain advantages. For example, I remember stories about how they shared dates pretending to be each other. Imagine, my dad dating the same girls my uncle dated, while swapping his good dates with my uncle. Good thing it stopped when they both got married.

Earlier my father was supposed to have become a priest, having studied at a seminary for two years. But I guess the call of the real world was too much for him to ignore, or maybe he just heard the call of my future Mom.  We lived in Pasay City, at the corner of Taft and EDSA where now stands our shopping center. It was a very modest house, and prone to the floods that Pasay is famous for. I remember having to swim to my room whenever the rains would pour. All the kids had to share one room, and the whole house would have probably fit in the living room of many houses today. The small compound was shared by my Dad’s twin, and this is how we became close to our cousins. Looking at the pictures of those times during the last Christmas Eve party, I was reminded of when I kept wearing my costumes as Batman or Superman and was always looking to fight evil (it seemed I ended up picking on all my cousins and brothers).

My Dad’s advocacy started with the Pasay Citizens League for Good Government, the Jaycees and so many other civic projects. During my childhood, I remember our weekly packing of relief goods for flood victims, or fire victims, or for whatever tragedies just kept happening in Pasay City.

The famous street battle with the Lapiang Malaya was the first encounter of bloodshed and violence for my father, and what a nightmare for me as a kid. I had always wondered why my father loved to be in the middle of all these socio-civic activities. He ran as representative for the Constitutional Convention and won it handily. I remember campaigning with him, using our Volkswagen Camper at that time, and my uncle, his twin, would appear as my Dad in some sorties around the city to cover more grounds in a short time (another benefit of having a twin).

Because of his activism, when Martial Law was declared, my Dad was among the first to be incarcerated at Camp Crame by the Marcos regime.  As the dictatorship worsened, it came to the lowest point for our business. It was very close to being taken over by a Marcos crony at that point when I asked my Dad what can he do and he told me not to worry, that he was working on something that would fight the dictatorship.  

This led him eventually to establishing what the country badly needed at that time, a citizens action group called Namfrel. Namfrel was really the start in teaching Filipinos to stand up and be counted, and fight back by watching over their ballot boxes. The idea generated millions of Namfrel volunteers, who later moved as the first wave of the people power revolution.

As I look back on those days, I think God in a way was preparing my father for the big role he was to play in helping bring back democracy to the country. Watching the video clips shown during our Christmas party, seeing the pictures of my Dad wearing the Namfrel jacket with the black super huge frame, I could not help but be reminded of Ninoy Aquino. The Namfrel fever became so strong and gave so much courage to Filipinos to stand up and fight that it was inevitable that it would lead to the Edsa Revolution.

After that, my Dad decided to help the Cory govenment as DTI secretary. He served also as mentor to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who had her first stint in government service as assistant secretary at DTI at that time. Up to this very day, PGMA always refers to my father as her mentor, as the one who gave her the confidence and attitude to face the challenges of public service.  In the meantime, in his own way, my Tito Ronnie also nurtured a unique advocacy for the benefit of Filipino consumers.

Known as the consumer and oil price watch, his advocacy has also helped millions of ordinary Filipinos to make an educated stand against unreasonable price increases in basic goods and utilities.

In business, my Dad and I always differed about business models and philosophies. He loves the chicken business, no matter how difficult it is. He still tends to be a protectionist, while I am more of the brand builder and free trade advocate. But in the end, even with these differences, I believe my father has lived up to be a good mentor.

Now I know that his purpose in life was to give encouragement to our countrymen in the darkest moments of our history. His theme song, The Impossible Dream, remains strongly appropriate to his vision for the country, for his quixotic quest to see the Philippines rise from poverty and become one of the most respected countries in Asia and the world.

48 years of knowing my Dad will always be the most significant experience of my life. Now as I turn towards a new frontier in my life of helping people fulfill their dreams of entrepreneurship, of giving hope and inspiration to everyone thru the “Go Negosyo” advocacy, I realize I am drawing on all that my father has taught me in serving others.

Now I have found the reason why at that young age I was exposed to all these civic work that my father loved to do. I am an entrepreneur by heart, a serial entrepreneur who loves to create businesses one after another, and I owe my success to my father for properly guiding me. But more than doing business, he has taught me to love this country much more. To my dad, Joecon, thank you for making me, and countless other Filipinos, care about our country. Thank you for the 48 years of your mentorship. We love you. Happy 75th birthday!


* * * * *


How would you rate dad as a mentor and how has he inspired you?
I posed this question to my siblings and here are their answers:

My father is a man of many dreams, a man who believes that he can make a difference and change the world to become a better place, that if we all did our share and if we have God with us, nothing is impossible. I grew up idolizing my father, trying to mimic him from lugging around suitcases of paper to setting up a small office next to him. My father was not a ‘hands on’ coach. He would never tell me what to do but I learned so much more from what I saw him do. He taught me the meaning of servant leadership. My father often took the road less traveled, fought the fight many were afraid to do.  It is from him that I have learned the value of honesty, integrity, love for our neighbors but most importantly that deep love for God and devotion to our Blessed Mother.
—MARIE

As a mentor, Dad did not teach – he lives a life of HOPE and FAITH.  Dad never dreamed, rather, he acted on impossible dreams, and yes they really do come true.  Dad you are ‘my reach for the unreachable star’, you inspire me to reach far deeper into the interior of my heart. Happy Birthday Dad, we love you dearly. 
—BERNIE

Dad taught me how to love my country.  Even at our country’s lowest point he stuck it out and never stopped believing in it and that the Filipino could rise and do anything. He taught me how to think of those less fortunate than myself and to use my blessings to help others.  He taught me the value of hard work, honesty and integrity, to never get ahead at someone else’s expense.  To love God first and everything else will follow.  I have always looked up to him and I am so proud of what he has done in his lifetime.  I am so proud to call him Dad.
—JOHN

My father has a passion and that is to serve his country in many ways: Namfrel, ASEAN, Barangay Captain, Ten Outstanding Students, and many more.  All his life, he has committed himself to serve the Filipino people.  I wish I could be more like him…
—CELINE

It’s not usual for dads to directly mentor daughters.  Same can be said of Dad and I.  I grew up with my dad busy trying to change the world (or at least a small part of it called the Philippines).  The values and principles he espoused and fought for were more of nation than family.  He mentored me indirectly by bringing me up in an environment where he encouraged me to choose whatever business endeavor I was inclined to.  He provided much encouragement and support.  He was more “rah-rah” than “do it this way” and he would always take every occasion to say how proud he was of my pursuits (even if at times it was a real struggle).  He would always tell me never to give up, to try harder and to never take the easy way out.  You could say he was “tor”mentor in the best way possible.  
—VINA

My dad as my mentor has been very inspirational.  He has allowed me to dream yet make it reachable.  My father has helped me set values in my life that gave me direction and a proper understanding of what is just.  To this day I still come to my dad for advice and pick his brain on how to deal with the complex problems of life. 
—LIZA

Daddy has always been by my side giving advise and support in every thing I do.  Every night we make it a point to share and exchange ideas.  He has inspired me to always think BIG…think positive and believe in the impossible.  I look up to him as he exemplifies a true mentor as he leads by example.  His dedication to his work and advocacies, love for his family, selflessness for the poor and loyalty to his country give me a deep sense of pride for my father who I love so dearest.
—MICHELLE

The OFW Entrepreneur

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

Let me dedicate this column to our country’s OFWs and balikbayans who have started to arrive in time for the holidays. Today, our OFWs and balikbayans are one of the biggest contributors to the country’s economy, not only because of their remittances but also through significant investments they have started to put in some businesses and real estate, and also in improving the household spending of their loved ones in the Philippines.   Many of them have also started to save and invest in various financial instruments and businesses. 

These were also the topics that were discussed in the recently concluded Go Negosyo for OFWs and Balikbayans.  It was another successful Go Negosyo gathering with the multitude of people that flocked the expo at the Market Market last Saturday and Sunday.

The objective was basically to showcase different business ideas and alternative investments that they can do.  The first forum centered on how different sectors of the economy can work together to reach to the needs of the micro and small and medium entrepreneurs.  We saw how a big bank like Citibank, represented in the forum by no less than its Country Head Sanjiv Vohra, tied up with micro finance institutions to lend to the micro entrepreneurs. 

There was Atty. Gozon of GMA 7, who is also a very active Phil Center for Entrepreneur trustee and supporter of Go Negosyo, who expounded on the role of media in advocating entrepreneurship and shared his personal views on how one can become a successful entrepreneur. 

The progressive Mayor Tinga of Taguig likewise graced the forum and showed how LGUs should spearhead efforts to promote entrepreneurship in their respective areas.  There was also a good interaction with three awardees from Citibank’s Microentrepreneur of the Year namely Jennilyn Antonio, Jose Ortega Jr. and Nolie Estocado and with the one of the Most Inspiring OFW Entrepreneur awardees, Dr. Eugenio Dayag.

Interestingly, there exists a law that provides a leg up for would-be entrepreneurs. The Magna Carta for SMEs mandates that banks lend to SME’s about 8 percent of their loan portfolio. However, what happens is that some banks opt to invest in alternative instruments allowed for compliance or just pay the penalties for not complying with this law.  In order to develop micro and SME’s, it would be helpful to plough back the proceeds of the penalties to MFI’s. These institutions in turn can relend the accumulated penalties to the microentrepreneurs and SME’s, who are the intended borrowers in the first place.

The rural banks and MFIs play a crucial role in lending to microentrepreneurs.   According to the Bangko Sentral, lending is about P4.2 billion and we need to increase this level to meet up to the estimated P20 billion demand for microfinancing.

Clearly if we want to spur the development of negosyos, the banks will have to go out and start aggressively lending at least to MFIs and rural banks who may know the communities better and have a program that instills the proper values to the borrowers.

The main highlight of the Go Negosyo forum was the presence of President GMA for the awarding of the Most Inspiring OFW Entrepreneurs.   I believe this is her way of giving importance to the inspiring awardees, who can also give hope to other aspiring OFW entrepreneurs.

While going up with her to the trade hall, she seemed to be upbeat despite a rigorous schedule and a lot of people in Market! Market! shook her hand and took pictures with her. Clearly she still has the respect and admiration of a lot of people despite what the polls say. The very warm reception of the President in the mall and inside the Go Negosyo expo shows the crowd’s support.  It was pretty obvious that a large number of people would simply want to move forward and be productive and progressive members of our society. It shows that democracy is alive in this country which is what is important.

Despite the tragedies that has struck our country particularly the super typhoons hitting Albay, Sorsogon and Cebu, the Filipino people continue to remain resilient, prayerful and continue to hope for the best. 

Our economy is definitely on the right track earlier this year.  I have mentioned to a private banker that the peso will break 50 during the Indian Chamber of Commerce meeting and right now we see the peso below 50.  That to me is the best way to measure the barometer of confidence.

The offerings of dollar bonds of Philippines have always been oversubscribed to ten times. Those who invested in real estate stock market 12 months ago indeed will be having a merry Christmas and those who will remain bullish and optimistic will have a fantastic 2007, with our without charter change.

By the time PGMA leaves office in 2010, we will be one of the most admired Asian countries. Not everyone will agree but those who will agree with this statement will most likely see their fortunes improve. As we have seen always in the past, those who are generally optimistic, those who see opportunities in every crisis, those who develop solutions to problems faced, are those who always succeed. 

Come to think of it, these are the common traits of all successful entrepreneurs we get to meet in this advocacy.  The biggest challenge is how to bring this mindset of optimism and culture of entrepreneurship down to the ordinary Filipino.  I believe we can, if we start with ourselves and share the advocacy to others.  

To everyone, a Merry Christmas and a New Year full of optimism and hope!

In behalf of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, I would like to thank the Go Negosyo advocates and volunteers who have allotted a few hours just to share valuable advice and present interesting business ideas to the public.  Those who willingly shared their time were Sonia Aquino of UP ISSI, Dean Danny Cabulay of FEU, Dr. Antonio Lopez of Miriam College, veteran entrep advocate Marlo Sanchez, Merle Alferez of MSA.  On the Agri-negosyo areas, we would also like to thank Danilo Fausto (cattle and dairy), Anthony Innocencio (chickens), Toto Barcelona of Harbest, Lolita Hizon of Pampanga’s Best., Les Reyes (Reyes Haircutters), Richie Cuna (Fiorgelato), Ronald Pineda (Folded and Hung) and Johnlu Koa (French Baker). 

We also had different business concepts presented like that of Les Reyes (Reyes Haircutters), Richie Cuna (Fiorgelato), Ronald Pineda (Folded and Hung) and Johnlu Koa (French Baker). 

Mentors and advisers on the financing side were David Quianzon of SBGFC, Manny Guina (RBAP),  Alma Salamanca (NLSF), Jun Perez of (SEAD), Carolin Olfindo (Landbank), Ding Bagasao (ERCOF), Philip Hagedorn (Mutual Fund Company of the Phil), and the famous personal finance adviser Franciso Colayco.

Prof. Andy Ferreria also joined a one-on-one session to give advise on entrepreneurship and other alternative investments.  We also heard valuable inputs from entrep guru Prof. Quintin Tan, ESA’s Joel Santos and the very down-to-earth successful entrepreneur Sandy Javier of Andoks Chicken.  Victor Ablan, Sr. Bernadette Guzman and Dra. Aurita Roldan gave practical advice on the importance of self-development, family and doing something for the country.

We were happy to see the full support of expert moderators and popular hosts such as Cito Beltran, Rico Hizon, Angelique Lazo, Vicky Morales, Pia Archangel, Donita Rose, Anthony Pangilinan and Paolo Bediones (who are both successful entrepreneurs), RJ Ledesma, and Karen Davila. 

The Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship (PCE) Go Negosyo area in the event was also set-up to serve as the mentoring area, where experienced and successful entrepreneurs and professionals shared their precious time and talent to be of help to any visitor that sought advice.  We witnessed in that area how the marketing guru Johnlu Koa of French Baker stayed long to mentor several budding entrepreneurs.  We also had the very supportive Richie Cuna of Fiorgelato and Tess Ngan-Tian of Lots-a-Pizza, Delby Bragais of North Road Fashion Group and PCE Trustees Roland Hortaleza of Splash and Harley Sy of the SM group, Victor Tan of Bobson Jeans, Paolo Tibig of Vintel Logistics, Bryan Tenorio of Tenorio Manila, Lin Deres of Goldilocks, Chit Juan of Figaro Coffee, Angie Resureccion of the Philippine CEFE Network and PCE’s Executive Director Mon Lopez.

It is very heartwarming to see the sincere efforts of these advocates in giving free advice to our kababayans, as their way to help them become successful entreps like them.

Again, I’d like to personally thank everyone who unselfishly devoted their time, considering it was also a weekend, to be of help to others.  You are what I consider also the new breed of heroes that also serve as inspiration and source of learnings for many Filipinos.

Spreading the Spirit of Entrepreneurship

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

It’s barely two weeks before Christmas and Go Negosyo has continued to be very busy in spreading the spirit of entrepreneurship this yuletide season.  Just last week, we had the Go Negosyo Go Rotary Forum at the Manila Hotel which was a tremendous success.  The District Convention this year was headed by the very entrepreneurial CEO of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), Butch Francisco. The Fiesta Pavilion was packed with close to 1,000 Rotarians who listened to Nanay Coring of National Bookstore, Vivienne Tan of Entrepreneurs School of Asia, celebrity entrepreneur Paolo Bediones, Rotary Governor Elect Renato Magadia, PAGCOR President Rafael Butch Francisco, and myself.   Cito Beltran did his usual lively and interesting moderation of the forum.

The discussion covered basically the inspiring stories of the guests in putting up their respective businesses, the challenges they went through and important learnings.  Paolo talked about how he lost 8 million pesos at the start of his venture due to aggressiveness and over trusting of some people which according to him, was a “very expensive tuition fee”.

But, due to his creativity and sheer determination, Paolo was still able to recover and develop even newer business ventures like the I-Tech Phils., which not only handles the marketing and advertising of X1R (engine treatment oil), but has also expanded into a network marketing and IT solutions company.  Paolo is a good example of how a celebrity can serve as a role model for others to follow.  He believes that people in the entertainment industry must learn to invest their earnings wisely since their popularity may not be forever. 


Vivienne on the other hand was able to expound on why she chose to focus her school on entrepreneurship, and how she decided to do it on her own rather than take the easier path of joining her father’s successful conglomerate.  The Entrepreneurs School of Asia is totally in synch with what Go Negosyo stands for, and it is admirable for Vivienne to be driven as well in doing something to help alleviate poverty in the country by having her school focused in teaching entrepreneurs. 

She also mentioned that their students also offer free assistance to the urban poor by putting up their own business.  This for her is not only a chance to help out the community to guide them in managing their business but it also teaches her students to realize and appreciate the value of  every money spent or earned since they are working with very limited capital.
Nanay Coring also talked about the challenges she had to face like the fire that gutted their store in Escolta during the early years of National Bookstore in the 1950’s and just recently, their new store in Legaspi which upon three weeks of operation was destroyed by the typhoon. 

Entreps like her just knew how to deal with challenges and rise above those trials.  She also emphasized that hard work, perseverance and attention to detail, are the qualities that every entrep should have.

Successful entrep Butch Francisco on the other hand talked about his experience when he was asked to head PAGCOR which is one of the biggest revenue generators among government corporations.  As we say, being an entrepreneur in a structured organization is what we call an intrapreneur and Butch was able to blend entrepreneurship and professionalism in running this corporation. 

Renato Magadia shows that is never too late to be an entrepreneur and that one should use his expertise, in his case acquiring properties, in succeeding in business.  He was the acquisitions manager and CEO of Zuellig for many years until striking it on his own as he acquired big corporations like the Waterfront Group, Metro Alliance, Acesite Philippines  and Mabuhay Vinyl Corporation.


* * * * *


The Go Negosyo for OFWs and Balikbayans will be launched tomorrow, December 15, and will run till December 17 in Market! Market! Trade Halls A & B.  One of the highlights of the event will be the awarding of the Most Inspiring OFW Entrepreneurs on December 16.  Two of the awardees will be flying from Europe to personally accept their award.  First on the list is Consuelo Valencia, the Filipina millionaire who is now based in London.  Consuelo started out as a domestic helper and thought of providing assistance Filipinos in sending their money back home thru a door-to-door cash delivery service. 

Thru her hard work and excellent networking skills, she was able to put up her own remittance service called Farochilen Group of Companies.  There is also Norma Macalindong who had eleven children and did not even finish high school when she went overseas.  Her job as domestic helper was not sufficient to provide for her children so she sold bags, food and other products in tram stations during her free time.  She strived to finish her formal education in Italy knowing that it was the only way she can legalize her business.  Her hard work paid off upon earning her high school degree and getting clearance to officially put up her own retail store.

We also have awardees that put up their own business here in the Philippines.  First on the list is Engineer Michael Abubakar from Sulu.  Along with his wife, Engr. Abubakar is among the pioneer professional Overseas Contract Workers who went to Saudi Arabia.  After working for 23 years there, he came back to the Philippines for good and ventured into the real-estate business.  He is now the General Manager of M. Abubakar Consolidated Engineering (MACE) which builds decent and affordable homes for the First Sulu Estate Subdivision and has been helping the local community through various infrastructure projects.  There is also Letecia Marrero from the Mt. Province, a 69-year old lady who used to be a dressmaker and sari-sari store owner before working overseas.  She now owns a garden resort in the Mt. Province which has three swimming pools, a lawn tennis court, picnic cottages and tables, a playground and a convenience store. 

She also owns a dry goods store and a banana plantation and has also been very active in helping out their community ever since she came back to the Philippines.  We also have Dr. Eugenio Dayag from Tuguegarao who worked as a medical officer for a stevedoring company.  He now owns a cattle ranch along with hectares of rice lands, sugarcane and cassava plantations.  Apart from supplying jobs to his community thru his various businesses, he also provides medical assistance as the City Health Officer of Tuguegarao City. 

It is about time we recognize the accomplishments of these notable individuals so that they may inspire their fellow OFWs and Balikbayans to not only persevere in overcoming the hardships of working overseas, but to also invest their hard-earned money to sustainable business ventures.

Apart from the awarding the OFWs and Balikbayans, we will also give an award for the Most Inspiring Maritime Service Provider/Entrepreneur.  This year’s recipient is Mr. Carlos Salinas, President of the Philippine Transmarine Carriers Inc. for his outstanding achievements and contributions to the development of the Philippine maritime industry particularly the Philippine overseas sector.   

We will also give a special award to the Philippine Association of Service Exporters Inc., (PASEI) for their active involvement in promoting the professionalization of the overseas employment industry and protecting the rights and welfare of its stakeholders.  President Arroyo will personally give out the awards and will also take part in a short forum with the awardees and representatives from various government and non-government organizations that have programs related to the OFWs and balikbayans.

I am inviting everyone to go to Market! Market! Trade Halls A & B tomorrow till Sunday to participate in the Go Negosyo Para sa OFWs and Balikbayans.  Admission is free so bring everyone you know even if they’re not OFWs or Balikbayans.  We will have very interesting and informative forums and booth exhibits that should give everyone exciting business ideas.  There will be film showings, game shows and celebrity guest appearances.  Let’s all participate in this festive event for the new breed of heroes of this country — the OFWs and Balikbayans.  Go Negosyo!


* * * * *


Dear Mr. Cabulay,

I recently just wrote a book, 134 pages long, about entrepreneurship and the school system. Its currently being edited and proofread, and will begin printing by December. It should be out and printed by January 2007.

The book is about the school system, specifically college, on how college does not produce entrepreneurs, rather it produces employees. I go in depth from the academics, to the behaviors, to the mindset of students, and the teachers and classroom.

It puts focus on how we usually learn through experience, and not through reading books and lectures. Students usually feel boredom and fear in the classroom, rather than inspiration and joy. Students memorize facts and ideas, rather than understand.

4 out of the top 5 richest Americans in 2005 from a study in Forbes show that they do not have college degrees. This includes Gates, Allen, Ellison, and Dell.

I want to tell you more about my book, and hopefully be able to get my ideas across many people.



Hi Chris,

I completely agree with your data on the richest Americans because that was the output of the traditional educational system here and abroad. But now, things have changed. In fact, there are many schools abroad and a few in the Philippines that have carefully designed academic programs (courses) that prepare well the youth to become entrepreneurs. Completing or not completing a degree has nothing to do with being an entrepreneur (more so, success in entrepreneurship).

There are at least 20 Philippine schools that have best practices in entrepreneurship education. This was, in fact, a subject of a research paper I delivered during the 2006 International Conference of the World Council for Curriculum and Instruction held at Manila Hotel last August 2006. Best of luck on your book.

Regards,
Danny Cabulay
( Danny Cabulay is the Dean of the Institute of Accounts, Business and Finance of Far Eastern University.  He is also the coach of the winning Philippine teams in the 2005 and 2006 Entrepreneurial Idol of the World Competition in Harvard University)


* * * * *


Good day Sir Victor!

I’m Allen, a recent college graduate with lots of dreams of having my own business. A few weeks ago, I am thinking of setting up a clothing store that offers cute-designed T-shirts from China that caters for the teen-young adult market. 

I’m thinking if importing this kind of product will be good as my sole business. I’m aware that the peso-dollar exchange rate is performing well, and trade relations with other countries like US and China are going really well too. Hence, I would like to ask what would be the advantages and disadvantages of going for importation of T-shirts?
Thank you and more power to entrepreneurs like you.

Sincerely yours,
Allen



Hi Allen,
Thanks for your e-mail. In clothing business, importation is good. Just make sure your suppliers produce quality items.   Open and clear communication with them is important. See to it that they will follow every detail that you will give them to avoid problems in design, delivery, term of payment, etc. However, you also need to balance the ratio of your imports and locally produce items. Do not rely 100 % of your stocks on import.  You can also outsource good suppliers here in Manila.  Also, be updated on the fluctuation of peso-dollar exchange.

Good luck on your endeavor.

Regards,
Victor Tan
(Victor Tan is the founder of Crolific Garments Manufacturing Corporation which is famously known for the brand Bobson Jeans.)

Building Brands, Building Hope

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

Congratulations to Miguel Belmonte, Gracie Go, and the rest of their team for winning the Marketing Company of the Year Award.  This award has eluded the RFM group up until now despite beating some market leaders (hope the judges would read this).  Kidding aside, building a brand is what makes a company valuable. Entrepreneurial marketing is what separates the men from the boys.

If we look at how entrepreneurs develop brands, there is no other way to do it but to be a brand specialist.  What do I mean by this?  Filipinos have very simple minds in the sense that when you think of ice cream, burger, cellphones, only certain brands would come to mind.  This is why it is important to be the top of mind brand for the consumer.  For example, when you think of bookstore, National Bookstore comes to mind for many people, for hamburger fastfood, Jollibee.  For malls, it would probably be SM that would be the top of mind of many.

The danger in the process of building a brand is when one extends the use to so many different products which will only confuse the consumer. The success of building a brand will spell the difference in one’s ability to achieve success in a business model.

There are businesses however that are not sensitive to brand building, like for commodities such as sugar, flour and chicken.  For these products price is usually the key.  And yet, there are those who are so good in finding differentiations like in providing better services or better quality than others. 

Thus, one could still achieve in creating value even in a commodity business.  What Gardenia achieved in branding loaf bread is remarkable, positioning it using the freshness approach. Once one is able to infuse entrepreneurial marketing into a business model, then that person has a chance to move forward and surpass others.


* * * * *


On December 15 to 17 we will be having the Go Negosyo for OFWs and Balikbayans in Market! Market! Trade Halls A&B. Why do a Go Negosyo for OFWs?  A lot of Filipinos think that the migration of workers is due to the lack of jobs here. To some extent it’s true but let’s keep in mind that the economies of the world are bigger and have been growing like those in the Middle East, United States, Europe and Japan.  These countries have a huge demand for managerial and skilled workers.

These economies are huge compared to the Philippines, take for example the Middle East countries which are the largest oil producers.  These countries tap talented overseas workers that have relatively more reasonable rates than their locals; and yet these rates are considered higher with respect to Philippine standards. Let’s look at the good side.  Many of these people would not be able to find jobs anyway that would pay them the rates they would get there.
The OFW market, and if we include the Balikbayans, are so big today that they are major contributors to the country’s GNP.  They are the biggest buyers of real estate today and also in effect, the angel investors for a lot of Filipino families getting into business.
It would be timely to have special forums that hopefully will guide these OFWs and Balikbayans on viable business opportunities and alternative investment instruments where they can put their money wisely so when they come home, they have a business that is running well.  The expo and forum will showcase different business models and try to move away from the usual sari-sari store.  Maybe we can introduce them to the sari sari store of the future which will have more of the “convenience store look” with an internet center along with it or a VoIP center. 
We will also have Francisco Colayco, known for his book “Pera Mo, Palaguin Mo” to guide them on investing their money.  Anthony and Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan will also discuss family values which is very important as we see a lot of family-related problems. 
We are working closely on this project with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) led by their dynamic administrator Nito Roque.  The President will also be there on the second day to award the Most Inspiring OFW Entrepreneurs and hopefully will be able to join a forum with the  entrepreneurs and the top 3 sea-based agencies like Rica Limcaoco of Philippine Transmarine Carriers (PTC), Robbie Delgado of  Transnational Diversified Group (TDG), and Doris Ho of Magsaysay Maritime Corporation.


* * * * *


me share another inspiring story. His name is Andrei Gonzales but most people call him Chico. He is a 26-year old web designer who founded Handycap Media. Why the business name? You might ask. He had an accident 13 years ago which had him paralyzed from waist down. He still cannot move his right arm up until now and he has to use a device attached in his throat in order to breathe properly. His dad got him a laptop three years ago and he eventually got interested in web design.

Chico enrolled in a crash course in web design and eventually sought out clients, mostly thru referrals from friends, looking at billboards and watching TV. Right now he meets his client every Thursday to discuss the progress of the life-insurance community website which is almost finished and is right on schedule.

Together with two of his friends, Chico formed Handycap Media which he hopes will someday grow into a tri-media production outfit that will not only include web design but video editing and desktop publishing as well. I was really inspired by this story because Chico is an example of a person who did not let his disability hinder him from getting a job as a freelance web designer and eventually become an entrepreneur.

His story not only reminds us to be grateful for blessings of having a healthy body but it also inspires us to overcome our own adversities. I wish him the best of luck and hopefully his story will inspire everyone out there to pursue their dreams despite the odds and serious challenges in life.


* * * * *


Dear Ms. Resureccion,

A very good day to you!  Just call me Mr. Dubai kasi nandito pa ako sa UAE nagtatrabaho. Gusto kong malaman kung anong negosyo ang pwede ko ng simulan kahit andito ako sa Dubai.  Hindi naman lagi kasi nasa abroad ako at gusto kong meron akong negosyo bago ako tumigil sa Pinas.


Salamat ng marami! Yung pasalubong sa bakasyun ko nalang.



Mr. Dubai,

It’s a good thing that you are already thinking of a business even as you continue earning as an employee now. I suggest you save as much as you can and do your business planning now. Kung gusto mong magbusiness habang nasa Dubai ka, look for problems there na kaya mong sagutan and earn from that. For example, kung mahal ang gupit ng buhok or massage dyan, start an informal barber service or massage business. Kung maraming gustong magpadala sa Pinas, ipunin mo ang mga padala nila tapos ikaw ang magtake care ng pagpapadala by bulk – a la informal LBC. Basta look for problems ng mga tao dyan and transform them into opportunities.

You did not tell me about your job. Why don’t you learn as much as you can about that business where you are now working and see if you can do the same business here?

Finally, prepare for the business you will put up here when you come back. Make a thorough business plan so that your hard earned money will not go to waste. Generate as many options as you can first, then screen those options well so you can come up with the most feasible and viable one.

Hope I was able to help.

ANGELITA RESURECCION

(Ms. Resurreccion is the President of the Competency-Based Economic Thru Formation of Entrepreneurs (CEFE) Network Foundation.  She is also the General Manager for the Passion for Perfection Consultancy. )