Archive for August, 2009

The port to entrepreneurship*

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

By Anna Marie Periquet, Go Negosyo mentor

My post as chairman of the Young Entrepreneurs Group of Asia Pacific (YEGAP) gives me the distinct opportunity of meeting very inspiring entrepreneurs from the region. In the following interview, Mr. Wilson Jacob of India shares his ideas, experiences, and advice on entrepreneurship, who his mentors and sources of inspirations are, and what lessons he has learned from his initial ventures, among others. The 45-year-old Wilson is the Chairman and Managing Director of Kottayam Port and Container Terminal Pvt. Ltd., an export promotion infrastructure development project with 49% equity from the government of India located at Kottayam, Kerala.  He is also the recipient of the 2nd Young Entrepreneur Award of Asia Pacific.


What was your first “business venture” and what was the biggest lesson you learned from it?

An animal feed factory. It closed down in the 3rd year. I then learned how to do a business.

Who is your business mentor, or who had the greatest influence in your business life?

My father. He was not a business man. He was an engineer in government services, but he has had lots of business visions while he was working.

What advice would you give someone starting out a business today?

Do not copy a business, try to find out and do a different business from others, and do it differently.

What principle of entrepreneurship do you wish you knew when you were first starting out?

When I put up my first business, I only knew how to start it. I didn’t know any principles. I’ve learned them from my personal experience.

What has been the most satisfying decision you have made as a businessman?

Making a decision to start a business/industry and while running the business itself is very challenging. I’ve started four businesses. I cannot distinguish which ones among my decisions are satisfying and which ones are not. But I think all of them are good.

What was the toughest decision you had to make? How do you go about making tough decisions?

I think I am too good at making decisions at very crucial time and very fast, too. I think it’s the grace of the God that makes me make the right decisions at the right time. The toughest decision was to start an ICD and Minor Port utilizing inland water way at my home town Kottayam in India.

Would you recommend to someone starting out a business to attend a business school, or skip the degree and learn along the way?

I believe the degrees and education have nothing to do with the business and entrepreneurship. One has to be an evergreen student in the business field. But a good education is always helpful for communication, marketing and other planning. But this expertise you can always hire or buy, but you cannot buy or hire entrepreneurship.

Is there any difference between India and the rest of the world in the nature of your industry?

Yes, very much. I believe India is the best country to start the business or an industry because of the availability of human resources and consumerism. Also, the business management theory of the US or other countries will not work in India. India has got its own business theories and principles especially in labor issues.

What changes have you seen as a result of your business venture?

My recent venture of setting up a minor port and an Inland container depot (customs notified area for exports and imports) in my home town Kottayam has changed the region itself a lot. Two export promotion industrial parks are being set up by the government. Some of the social benefits resulting from my business venture include the generation of employment for nearly 5000 people;

Increase in the export and import activity of the neighboring four districts; diversion of nearly 7,200 containers from road to water transport from the first year itself; promotion of smart waterways; lower maintenance for roads and vehicles, fuel economy; earning of carbon credit; minimizing the road congestion; development of tourism; earning of foreign currency, and the development of an export promotion industrial park connected to this port is underway. Precisely this project has been instrumental for this development, which is beneficial to the entire central Kerala.

What were the challenges you faced in setting up your business and how did you manage them?

The challenges were many. Some of them are: Breaking the mindset of the people –  it was a big challenge for us to break the mindset of the people for undertaking such a project and galvanizing their support. Raising the fund – the people believed me because of my style of performance. After seeing my passion for the project, various agencies and individuals came forward to invest in this project. Preparation of detailed Project report – there was no previous standard set for this kind of project. Hence we had to start from scratch. We ourselves prepared the project report by collecting data from layman to experts. It is said that 50 % of the project is over if you make a good project report. And finally we did it successfully. 

Other challenges we faced included:

Development of waterway – Even though we had an existing waterway, it had to be developed and maintained for a vessel movement.

Development of road to the Port – The existing road to the facility was not sufficient for the container movement; hence we had to acquire the adjacent land belonging to the Education and Industries Department of Kerala for the widening of the road. 

Land development – The land was water logged areas which had to be converted into a useful land. That was also a big challenge. Virtually we were constructing the building and business over water. 

Construction of Barge was a big challenge – We had to use our ingenuity to design and construct a fully hydraulic propulsion container barge with 37 meter length, 7 meter width with 1.25 meter draft which can contain 10Nos of 20 feet containers and which would pass through this bund. This challenge also we took up.

Introduction of RO-RO (Roll on– Roll Off) to avoid two handlings –The question arose from the exporters, importers and Custom House Clearing agents whether the two crane handling was feasible. So in order to avoid two crane operations at port of origin and transit port, it was necessary to implement the Ro-Ro concept. Hence we had to design and construct the low bedded container trolleys with 25 tons capacity. The trolley mounted containers would be loaded and rolled on to the barge and rolled out for unloading. The handling made easy.

What do you think are the most important attributes of a good and successful businessman?

When you are planning to start business/ industry, try to learn as much as possible about the business. Of course you can hire highly technical manpower to run the business. But one should try to know anything and everything about that particular business. Ultimately, you are the leader and you are the one to make the decisions at a crucial time, to make the right decisions at the right time.

Are entrepreneurs born or made?

I think majority are born entrepreneurs, but some become entrepreneurs by circumstances.

*Article reposted from The Manila Times with the author’s permission


PGMA is no Bush

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

The last days have been hectic, with requests for me to speak in various gatherings of organizations about our advocacy and how it created an impact on the country. I was also asked to talk about my views on the economy and about moving forward during the remaining months under PGMA. They also asked my views on who would be the right person to lead this country come 2010.

My column last week, “Pro Economy, Pro Philippines”, took me about an hour to finish. I was at the wake of a very good friend of mine, Chris Lim, who suddenly passed away because of heart attack while playing squash at the Polo Club. He was my lawyer when we acquired Selecta Ice cream and Cosmos Bottling. He has been our external Corporate Legal Counsel in RFM, and has been with us during our IPOs and purchase of RC Cola brand.


Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Joey Concepcion book launch(JULY 22, 2009) — After coming out with their first three books on negosyo inspiration, Go Negosyo presented the next steps for aspiring and budding entrepreneurs with its fourth book “GO NEGOSYO: 21 Steps on How To Start Your Own Business” in National Bookstore Rockwell.

“By getting this book, you start to build and reinforce your level of confidence in putting up a business. Although it may not assure success in a negosyo you enter, it will definitely give you a better change to succeed,” said Go Negosyo Guru and Founding Trustee Joey Concepcion.

“The challenge for people who want to start a business is the ‘getting started’ part. They have the fear, the so many questions on ‘how to’, and the usual questions on government red tape. This book will help you take that step and shrug of that fear,” he added.

Authored by this country’s most sought after entrepreneur-mentors Dean Francisco “Pax” Lapid and Efren “Ping” Sotto, this is a good follow-through for Go Negosyo after their first three books on inspiration. The authors share their vast experiences and their formula to business success in this user-friendly workbook. Aside from tips, the book also contains “mythbusting” anecdotes that will break poorly pre-conceived notions that prevent people from putting up their own business. It is a step-by-step guide and workbook for aspiring and starting entrepreneurs.

GO NEGOSYO: 21 Steps on How To Start Your Own Business also garnered testimonials and recommendations from different key figures in the private and government sectors, such as Press Sec. Cerge Remonde, Sec. Ace Durano of the Department of Tourism, Sec. Peter Favila of the Department of Trade and Industry, Sec. Jesli Lapus of the Department of Education, Gov. Vilma Santos-Recto, Socorro Ramos of National Bookstore, Tintin Bersola-Babao, Francisco Colayco, Andy Ferreria, Vivienne Tan, Bo Sanchez, among others.

“Nakakatuwa itong bagong libro ng Go Negosyo dahil talagang inilatag na ni Pax at ni Ping ang mga dapat pag-isipan at gawin upang simulan ang isang negosyo. Makakatulong ito sa may mga puso na magsimula ng kanilang negosyo. This book is a labor of love, and I would recommend this to all those who want to achieve their dreams, whether they are as young as a high school student or as young at heart as I am,” attested by Nanay Socorro Ramos.

During the launch, a book signing opportunity for the first three Go Negosyo books was also opened for the public. Featured entrepreneurs from the first, celebrity, and women editions of the books were present as well. They mingled, signed books and openly shared their stories to the negosyo enthusiasts.

angelpreneursAside from the book launching, Go Negosyo also launched their newest program called the “Go Negosyo Angelpreneurs”. The Go Negosyo Angelpreneurs are seasoned entrepreneurship gurus and Go Negosyo mentors, who have the heart to educate and guide existing and budding entrepreneurs in their entrepreneurial journey. They will be the lead lecturers in the Negosyo Seminar Series that we intend to conduct around the country. These would be two-day seminars on the How-To’s in Entrepreneurship. These seminars will therefore complement the How-To book we have introduced to help micro and small negosyantes become more innovative, more strategic and smart.

View more pictures…


Pro Economy, Pro Philippines

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

A week ago, someone from the government told me that I was courageous in devoting one column to PGMA after her SONA, to talk about her positive work attitude and the good things she has done. After that, two columns were devoted to the former President Cory Aquino. “A Woman of Simplicity” and “Yellow Fever” cited Tita Cory’s and her husband Ninoy’s attributes and achievements. I also discussed the importance of turning this ‘yellow fever’ into action for positive change.

A feedback from a frequent reader of the column stated that he was sick and tired of the critics who always complain and close their eyes to the positive actions that our President has done for our country. He thanked us for the encouragement and the optimism we have been advocating, especially through my column.

Yellow Fever

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

In other countries, yellow fever has been the cause of many devastating epidemics. It is an acute viral disease that causes 200,000 illnesses and 30,000 deaths every year in unvaccinated populations.

In the Philippines, ‘yellow fever’ is something different… The country once again witnessed an intense ‘yellow fever’. It was not a mosquito that bit millions of Filipinos. We saw multitude who were glued to their TV sets or who went to the wake and participated in the funeral procession from the Cathedral to Manila Memorial Park. We had our own version of the “Yellow Fever”.

A Woman of Simplicity

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

A daughter’s love for her mother cannot be expressed much more than how Cris Aquino did in her response in behalf of the Aquino family.

In the same way, we saw the outpouring love from Filipinos to our country’s mother figure former President Cory.

In Tita Cory, we witnessed a simple housewife who reluctantly accepted her destiny to lead this nation from dictatorship to democracy. For many of us, who spent our youth during the Marcos years participating as volunteers of NAMFREL and joining the EDSA revolution, Tita Cory’s memorial service brings back many personal thoughts of struggle towards democracy. The songs “Bayan Ko” and “Magkaisa” continue to resonate with us a truly inspiring musical score to our lives. There are millions of people who witnessed the passing of a simple woman, whose earnest interest was to give HOPE to Filipinos, that we do have a future.