Archive for September, 2007

Our GEM, the Microentrepreneur

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Fortunately, our economy was able to absorb last week’s shocks caused by recent political noise and we are again on a stable path towards a strong peso and stock market. Our economy has gone a long way from being sensitive to issues. The general outlook now is bullish and people continue to realize that no amount of talk or criticism is worth losing the benefits we are already reaping.

In fact, this positive outlook is not only shared by big businessmen. Four out of 10 Filipinos now have businesses and many are looking at business opportunities as the way to go.

Last year, the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship conducted an entrepreneurial survey as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Research. GEM is a brainchild of the best schools on entrepreneurship, Babson College and the London Business School, that aims to uncover factors leading to appropriate levels of entrepreneurship to contribute to crafting policies that may enhance it.

Unlike past researches on Philippine entrepreneurship, this has been the first one to consider the whole population, from Luzon to Visayas to Mindanao. With the help of a survey vendor, we surveyed 2,000 randomly selected adult Filipinos, aged 18-64. This makes the results reflect our general country situation.

Results of the survey showed that the typical Filipino entrepreneur is a self-employed and married man, aged 22 to 44, though women also play a strong role in starting a business. In fact, among the 42 countries which joined GEM last year, the Philippines was the highest in terms of women entrepreneurship.

We also had the highest rates of businesses that have lasted for at least three years, which GEM calls as Established Businesses, and only one in 10 businesses has closed down during the past year. This is one proof that optimism has done a great deal to help entrepreneurs endure the so-called series of unfortunate events.

But we still have a lot of things to do. The study showed that many of our existing businesses are still microenterprises and a lot of them still rely on old technology. We have to nurture these businesses, these seedlings of the next generation’s economy, and sustain a positive economic outlook. Introducing new and appropriate technology is one key. We should encourage everyone to adopt a brand of entrepreneurial mindset that is innovative and creative, constantly search for the bright spots or opportunities in the market and try out new business models. I guess, continuously challenging the status quo to take his or her business to the NEXT LEVEL is key to many successful entrepreneurs I know.

With a surprising economic growth, the highest in decades, and bullish investor confidence, we now have a more conducive environment for entrepreneurship. Many Filipinos are now engaging in business because they see these opportunities. Slowly but surely, more Filipinos are benefiting from the country’s economic gains.

Before the year ends, PCE will release the GEM National Report containing more detailed results of this survey, which includes a global comparison of our state of entrepreneurship. We hope that these findings will contribute to crafting more meaningful policies and programs that will continue to inspire more and more Filipinos to have an entrepreneurial mindset and develop a stronger capacity to grab the opportunities we have now.

We have the momentum, Let us all FOCUS ON THE ECONOMY. Let’s continue to rally under a common banner towards our country’s progress and focus on improving our economy. Let us not let ourselves be sidetracked by political controversies which will only veer us away from our goal of becoming an entrepreneurial nation.

As we move towards the end of the ZTE reality show, we hope that our scarce budget resources are used towards the development of the Philippine economy. Let us allow Filipino entrepreneurs to supply the needs of this country and let the government point them to these opportunities. Let us use our funds wisely, allot them to public schools and equip them with enough computers so that students and teachers are able to learn and have access to the internet, have wider exposure to the world and help enhance their creativity. Creativity is also what many of our microentrepreneurs need to move beyond just being micro to being small and eventually become medium to large businesses.

Today’s game between Ateneo and La Salle is supposed to be an exciting game to watch with La Salle having the twice to beat advantage. Maybe this is La Salle’s year as the brothers have remained focus on teaching their students to become entrepreneurs and professionals and veering away from politics. Maybe this will bring them good karma.

The Challenges of Inspiring

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

The Philippine economy and general climate of optimism has improved dramatically over the past 12 months. This is quite evident from the number of foreigners you will see at different hotels, many of them investors wanting to be part of the growing economy of the Philippines. Peso appreciation has been around 20 percent, GDP growth is now forecasted at 6.1-6.7 percent after the robust economic performance of 7.2% in the first half. The Philippines Stock Exchange Index has climbed 58 percent since January 2006, and real estate values in high-end villages have also gone up from 35 to 65t per sqm, while it has gone up from P90 thousand to the latest P150 to as much as P180 thousand per sqm in Fort Bonifacio. The US stock market is also on a rebound due to last night’s beyond market expectation half percentage point reduction in fed rates.

One cannot question that Filipinos are finally gung-ho about our country. The optimism has finally rubbed off which resulted to people becoming more confident in seizing opportunities such as starting a negosyo. Unfortunately last Tuesday, we have this bombshell expose of Joey de Venecia exposing Mike Arroyo as the mystery man behind the NBN-ZTE controversy which quickly affected the stock market. Somehow some camps find his story questionable as he was the losing bidder and some may even go far as saying he is just a sourgraping. Some groups however would believe in his statements. What is clear is the immense power of media in covering controversial news like this, and again it’s like a reality show at play. Unfortunately if not handled well, this can reverse the gains that we have accomplished in the recent months. We must end this cycle of misery that has been haunting us for so many years. I hope and pray we do not get back to our cycle of misery. I hope we focus on the economics, the good momentum we have, the vibrant business environment, the excitement and competitive spirit among Filipino entrepreneurs. I hope our Senators, as they do their investigations, keep in mind the importance of keeping the spirit of hope among the Filipinos and encourage them to not give up on this country as we are still on the road to a great future.


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Go Negosyo is trying to keep the ball rolling as it spreads further the entrepreneurship advocacy and optimistic mindset thru the Go Negosyo caravans in the provinces. We will have the Go Negosyo sa Pampanga on October 8 at the Bren Guiao Convention Center and the Go Negosyo sa Cagayan de Oro on October 19 at the Atrium in Limketkai Mall. We are still continuing with our Bigtime TV show every Monday at 10:30pm in RPN9, the interactive mentoring website www.gonegosyo.net and the Go Negosyo book which is now a best seller in National Bookstore. We are happy to inform you that with the high hit rates, gonegosyo.net is now at the top of the list in the Google search on Negosyo. All of these activities including this column are all part of our goal to change the mindset of Filipinos into being more entrepreneurial in character.

We are also continuing to spread the advocacy through innovative means. We will have another communication campaign featuring celebrity entrepreneurs. We are coming out with a series of print ads, which will eventually be compiled into a Go Negosyo book – Celebrity Edition, featuring portraits and write-ups on the entrepreneurial side of your favorite celebrities. Ace photographer and visual image expert Jun de Leon has agreed to work with us on this project. Some of the famous celebrities who have already pledged their support include Jolina Magdangal who owns a fashion gallery, Joyce Jimenez who has Private Joyce stores all over the Manila, Marvin Agustin who owns Japanese restaurant Sumo Sam, Piolo Pascual, Judy Ann Santos, Fanny Serrano, Diether Ocampo, Tweety de Leon, Sara Black, Arnel Ignacio, Tessa Prieto and Tim Yap, just to name a few. The list is growing as of this writing. We are expecting to get more and compile at least 50 celebrity entrepreneurs before the year ends.

We are also working on the second Go Negosyo book which we will now call Joey Concepcion’s and Nanay Coring’s Book of 50 Inspiring Entrepreneurial Stories. Book 2 will feature other equally successful entrepreneurs in the country today, along with some of those who received the Go Negosyo Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs award in different sectors/ cities. A new addition to Go Negosyo Book 2 will be the lessons learned written by Vivienne Tan, Myla Villanueva and Johnlu Koa.

Another project we are also working on is the Ed Morato’s “How-To Go Negosyo” book. It is in partnership with Bayan Foundation’s President and Entrepreneurship guru Prof. Ed Morato. The book will cover basic concepts on entrepreneurship, marketing/opportunities-seeking, product development and financing/ financial management that will serve as good starting guide for any aspiring entrep. This will be complemented by a video material on each of the 168 modules on entrepreneurship.

As Go Negosyo moves on to more projects, we hope to inspire more and more Filipinos to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, give them the tools, empower, inform and mentor them and hopefully fulfill our dream of becoming an entrepreneurial nation.

The road is still far and we still need to overcome a lot of challenges. But Go Negosyo was born during the darkest times in the country and it will always be a duty and honor for us to inspire people. For every person that will succeed in life and move out of poverty is an accomplishment beyond material terms. Let us never lose hope.

An Honor to Inspire

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

Last Friday, Go Negosyo sa Manila was held at the Philamlife Auditorium which only has a capacity of 950 people. As early at 7:30am, we had already doubled the capacity and had nearly tripled it when the forum started. Students and teachers from different colleges in Manila, OFWs wanting to be entreps, and aspiring entreps around the Manila area attended the affair. We had to apologize that we could not accommodate everyone inside as we had people seating even along the aisles of the auditorium. But we set up huge screens and chairs in the lobby to accommodate everyone. The Go Negosyo fever is really catching on and it is such a heartwarming experience to see the enthusiasm of many people wanting to be inspired and learn more about entrepreneurship.

PCE Trustee Tony Tan Caktiong, founder and CEO of Jollibee who was seated beside me was also quite surprised with the warm response. Atty. Gozon of GMA Network, also a PCE Trustee, was also beaming with a smile when he was greeted by thousands of people. He has been joining us in our caravans and has been very supportive of this advocacy. While a lawyer, I believe he is an entrepreneur by heart and that mindset has led GMA 7 to being the number one TV station today with a market cap of close to a quarter of a billion dollars. MSME Czar Sec. Cerge Remonde who has been a very close partner in promoting entrepreneurship also joined us in awarding the Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs in Manila and in the lively discussion during the keynote forum. He represented PGMA since she was attending the APEC Conference in Australia.

Our special guest was Senator Mar Roxas, an investment banker before becoming a politician. He mentioned to me that his fund helped several entrepreneurs raise money like the one for the founder of Discovery Channel. He was also one of those bankers who helped Tony Tan raise money during Jollibee’s start-up days. He too was surprised that Go Negosyo has lasted this long and has grown its following. I told Mar it is because people want to be encouraged and inspired and hope is all what they have today.

The success of Go Negosyo is largely attributed to the entrepreneurs who come to support the caravans and our efforts in TV, print ads, book, website etc. Dr. Roland Hortaleza of Splash Corporation who is also a PCE Trustee attends our forums and expos especially the book signing sessions where entrepreneurs get to meet and greet the people, and were never short of giving quick advice for those who posed their questions. The Go Negosyo gathering has so many entreps sharing their time and talent to reach out to as many as we can such as Chit Juan, Les Reyes, Paolo Bediones, Victor Tan and so many more that this column cannot accommodate all the names. I believe these entreps really find honor in inspiring people. It is their way of sharing back with the people the blessings and learnings they have.

It was very moving to see this time in Go Negosyo Manila one of awardees, 93-year old former Senator Helena Benitez of PWU, who came up on stage and humbly accepted the due recognition for her contribution to our entrepreneurship community. She looked very sharp and energetic for her age and at one point even refused to be assisted. Mr. Jose Reyes of Aristocrat, who is already 84 years old proudly accepted the award and was supported by his children who were all present. Aristocrat at 71 years is where we all took our dates. We also gave two posthumous awards for FEU founder Dr. Nicanor Reyes, which was accepted by his daughter, FEU Board of Trustees Chair Lourdes Montinola who at first was reluctant to accept the award. But we had to explain to her that we have to give credit to the second generation of entrepreneurs like them who made their business even bigger. The other posthumous award was given to Philippine Star founder Betty Go-Belmonte, a true woman of vision and steward of press freedom. Philstar Executive Vice President Grace Glory Go accepted the award on her behalf. We also gave awards to other inspiring Manila entreps such as Robert Kuan as founder of Chowking, Gerry Chua of Eng Bee Tin, Makong/Masuki mami owner Willen Ma, Carlos Celdran of Walking Tours in Manila, Alice Guerrero of Tesoro’s and Alejandra Clemente of Rajah Tours.

Like the previous Go Negosyo caravans, Go Negosyo sa Manila exceeded our expected number of attendees and the Manila awardees were more than willing to accept our recognition. What makes these people attend our Go Negosyo events? Some say it is a rare privilege to see and listen to inspiring entrepreneurs as they share their stories and advice. But I would say, it is the entrepreneurs themselves who are deeply honored to give back to their community and share whatever talent and knowledge they have to help others. It is an honor for us entrepreneurs to have the opportunity to create that spark of entrepreneurial spirit among Manileños and we would like to thank everyone for giving us a chance to inspire.

Thanks to Joey Cuisia and the Philam group for lending the nice and elegant Philam auditorium and our Caravan partners especially the Chinese Filipino Business Club and many others who have continued to help us spread the entrepreneurship advocacy nationwide.

We are moving on to other areas with the Go Negosyo caravan and Go Negosyo sa Pampanga will be next. Originally slated for September 26, it is now moved to October 8. We have invited PGMA who expressed her eagerness to grace this event given that Pampanga is her hometown province. Again, we invite all Kapampangans to join us in this exciting and learning forum. It will be held at the Bren Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando. Admission as always is free.

The C-Factor

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

The past two columns talked about how the education system should nurture the e-factor for their students to have a greater chance of becoming successful entrepreneurs. I also cited the top negosyo professors who mentioned how they would nurture the e-factor. Now what is the c-factor? These are the traits quite common among Filipinos, but one that we have to eliminate in our culture. C stands for the Crab mentality that becomes one of the greatest hindrances of a successful entrepreneur, aside of course from being pessimistic.

While in San Francisco last week, I had dinner with Dylan Wilk of Gawad Kalinga and his wife who is about to give birth to another baby girl anytime now. A couple of years back it was my wife who told me I had to meet this guy, a foreigner who talks so passionately about the Philippines and what Gawad does. I was asked to co-chair a Pitoy Moreno fund raising event for Gawad Kalinga and this is where the friendship started with Greg Monteclaro, Boy Montelibano, Tony Meloto and his son-in-law Dylan Wilk. We did have a successful fund raising event but more than that, it was the start of a relationship that allowed greater trust. I have been able to convince the whole Concepcion clan to donate close to 400 homes to Gawad Kalinga beneficiaries which is now called the Concepcion Village behind the RFM building, beside the Pasig River. Selecta also started its own village with my brother John and is now piloting eco-farming units with Gawad.

Dylan, prior to marrying Tony’s daughter, has a great story to tell, being one of England’s wealthiest at a young age who started as an entrep and sold his gaming business. He was supported by the Prince’s Trust program which he says was the reason for his success as a negosyante. Dylan today works for Gawad for free. He is now in San Francisco giving almost 10 speeches a week in different schools, parishes and universities, getting Filipinos there to support the Gawad cause. During our lunch, I asked him a very frank question about the changes I see in Gawad. He did say his father-in-law which he calls Papa, whom he greatly respects, has continued to remain silent all this time.

Among us Filipinos, we somehow get jealous when people do better than us and it is something that we need to change. When Tony won the Ramon Magsaysay award, Inquirer’s Man of the Year and so many other awards, I knew problems will start. Couples for Christ which was founded by Frank Padilla provides the important component in Gawad Kalinga which is the value formation. It is not a matter of building houses but homes and communities and the reformation of residents in the GK communities. Apparently, some of the advisers of Frank Padilla have somehow been successful in convincing him to set up a new group and get the new Couples for Christ (CfC) organization to focus only on developing spirituality and continue the mission of increasing its fold. Frank is a remarkable man who founded CfC, which is the largest Catholic charismatic organization which I am told has close to a million members.

More than the material awards given on earth, the greatest award await these people in heaven. Both Gawad Kalinga and CfC need each other and we hope they would continue to be together. As for CfC, it is where they can practice their spiritual belief and nourishment by helping GK communities change their lives. Being part of Bukas Loob sa Diyos many years back, and after attending a lot of prayer meetings, I started to realize that spirituality must be practiced, and what a great way to complement it with Gawad Kalinga, the best outreach ministry ever started by Couples for Christ thru the stewardship of Tony Meloto. I have also great admiration for Frank Padilla who has inspired a lot of people spiritually.

GoNegosyo actually has drawn great inspiration from the Gawad Kalinga program and today we continue to work with them. Vivienne Tan, a trustee of PCE has gotten the Entrepreneurs School of Asia to work with about 24 high schools for their selected students to mentor GK communities to improve the marketability of their existing products and make these negosyo projects really feasible and sustainable in the end, on commercial basis. Each high school and GK community is assisted by a GoNegosyo mentor and they form a team that will compete in what we call the “Teenpreneurship Challenge.” A very encouraging challenge indeed, and one that supports the vision of sustainable community-based “kabuhayan” projects of GK. The “kabuhayan” projects we believe are important undertakings complementing the “kabahayan” component of GK.

Let us not allow the evil one to draw up on the c-factor that destroys many good things that we have. We Filipinos take good pride in what GK has been doing, which has also been adopted as a very sound and workable development model in many countries. As with GoNegosyo, we are happy when programs like these succeed in helping people. Let’s continue to inspire people. Let’s enhance the e-factor in us and destroy the c-factor.