Archive for December, 2016

Instruments of Change

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Every time I write year-end columns, I could not help but look back and recall the many milestones Go Negosyo has achieved. This year was special in so many ways that I cannot help but think of all the blessings and opportunities God has given us.

Last year, I mentioned that 2016 will be a year of changes. And it was. With the new administration of President Duterte, changes did happen.

When we first met then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte last February in our Meet the Presidentiables forum, many were still unsure of what he can offer to our country. That is why our forum gave him a chance to share his plans not just for the business sector but for all. His vision for the country is slowly turning into reality. He has an unorthodox way of doing things but he makes sure that the job gets done. We have experienced changes in the past months and we are still up for more.

Go Negosyo was blessed this year with different sorts of positive developments.  First, when our very own Executive Director Ramon Lopez became the Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry. With him as the leader of growth and prosperity in the business sector, and the champion of all micro and small entrepreneurs, we can see continuous progress for the economy.

I, myself was given a valued opportunity to help the government when I was appointed as Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship, the same position given to me by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and which led to the Go Negosyo advocacy. With the same position, I still have the mission of alleviating poverty through entrepreneurship. Go Negosyo will continue to create programs that will inspire more Filipinos to become enterprising.

Go Negosyo Founder Joey Concepcion was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as the Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship.

Go Negosyo Founder Joey Concepcion was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as the Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship.

Our biggest program yet which we launched this year was the Kapatid, Angat Lahat. This is in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry and is geared to providing prosperity to the Filipino nation. With the mission of linking micro and small entrepreneurs to the big brothers in the industry, we hope to help our small brothers scale up. The Kapatid, Angat Lahat program has three components which includes Mentor Me, Intervention, and Inclusive Business.
Our mentoring program Mentor ME has been rolled out in many Negosyo Centers nationwide. By next year, there will be more Mentor Me launches in more Negosyo Centers. Many of the Mentor Me programs launched this year have produced their first batch of graduates already. Thanks to our partners, mentors, and advocates, we have equipped our micro entrepreneurs with the right mindset and knowhow in developing their business.

Still with DTI, we plan to further develop the Shared Service Facilities program. We are also looking into the intervention in Department of Science and Technology’s SETUP (Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program).

With the Department of Agriculture, we have linked the onion and garlic farmers to the big retailers and restaurateurs. With Sec. Manny Pinol as our partner in bringing prosperity to our agriculture sector, we plan to create more linkages between farmers and big brother companies. By next year, the Department of Agriculture will officially be a partner of Go Negosyo for all programs for our agri-entrepreneurs.

Our Negosyo Para sa Kapayapaan sa Sulu project is already in the works. Many companies and entrepreneurs have pledged their support to the mission of generating an active socio-economic development to the province of Sulu. It is a dream project for everyone and with Datu Shah Bandar Abdusakur Tan and Sulu Governor Toto Tan as our partners, we know that this will be a success!

To our partners and advocates, let me recognize you as instruments of change. This season reminds us of the time that we have to play our roles in helping people improve their lives. We are given different roles to fulfill but all these will lead to a common goal of prosperity for all.

As 2017 comes, we hope to bring more change in the country. The partnership of private and public sectors is stronger than ever. And as we host the ASEAN next year with President Duterte, we aim to be partners for change and bring prosperity for all.

I look forward to 2017. It is a new year filled with promises and opportunities for a better country and a better world. Go Negosyo has a lot of plans and programs for next year. And our team is ready to take on the new challenges. There will be more work but we are positively looking forward to the contribution that we can give to this administration and the country.

I wish all our Go Negosyantes a happy new year! May 2017 bring more success to all of us and to our country most especially!

Robinsons Supermarket joins Go Negosyo and DA to support local onion farmers

Monday, December 26th, 2016

In support of the government and Go Negosyo initiative to promote inclusive business, Robinsons Supermarket has placed an initial order of 5,000 kilos of onions from local farmers which are currently being sold initially in 35 branches in Metro Manila of the supermarket chain.

The initial order is part of Robinsons Supermarket commitment to support the undertaking that will assure local farmers better access to its wide distribution network anchored on the strength of the supermarket chain’s more than a hundred branches scattered across the country.

Thru this joint public-private sector partnership, as championed by Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol and Presidential Adviser on Economic Enterprise and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion for big businesses to support local onion farmers, Robinsons Supermarket is helping the onion farmers of Nueva Ecija to have their products made widely available in the fresh produce section of the supermarket. This is all made possible with the retail chain now directly sourcing onions from the farmers themselves.

BUY HOMEGROWN produce and support our local farmers. Local onions are now available at Robinsons Supermarket.

BUY HOMEGROWN produce and support our local farmers. Local onions are now available at Robinsons Supermarket.

“By making these agriculture products available in our supermarket, we encourage our customers to buy homegrown produce and this will certainly bring about a boost of support for our local farmers,” says Robina Gokongwei-Pe, President and COO of Robinsons Supermarket.

Gokongwei-Pe added that “As a company borne out of a pioneering entrepreneurial spirit, we are happy to provide the impetus to help grow local business enterprises. This is just our little own contribution towards nation-building.”

Jody S. Gadia, Robinsons Supermarket General Manager, represented the company in a special meeting called for by Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol with supermarket chain owners and executives last November 30, 2016.

Secretary Piñol disclosed a series of measures to strengthen and protect the local onion growing industry, including a commitment to provide government financing for a marketing agreement between local onion farmers and big supermarket and restaurant chains and a series of steps to improve the local farmers’ competitiveness.

Go Negosyo head Joey Concepcion was instrumental in putting together the crucial agreement that finalized the deal for big supermarket and restaurant chains to buy direct from local onion producers.

Robinsons Supermarket, the supermarket of choice for fresh and healthy food, is a subsidiary of Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc. (RRHI), the second largest multi-channel retailer in the Philippines. It was established in 1985 as the first major retailer to promote health and wellness. It commits to bring together healthy selections and affordable prices in a refreshingly clean and organized shopping destination, a bold lifelong commitment to educate and empower its customers to make healthy choices. To date Robinsons Supermarket has over 140 stores nationwide and still growing.

Kapatid Para sa Sulu

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

“Nobody was talking about Mindanao. The serious problem actually is Mindanao because if we do not handle it very carefully, this country will end up dismembered.”

This is what President Duterte had said during the Christmas Townhall last Monday in Malacanang when he shared why he wants to help the Mindanao province most especially those war torn areas. He has a prepared 2-pager speech but he opted to tell his heartfelt sentiments.

More than 400 entrepreneurs, advocates, and government officials joined us as we celebrate inclusive growth. We are fortunate to have the full support of everyone as we launch the Negosyo para sa Kapayapaan sa Sulu. Our objective for this project is to bring peace and socio-economic development to the region through the help of the big brother companies who can provide livelihood programs, housing projects, mentorships, facilities and infrastructure.

Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, US Ambassador Sung Kim, Sen. Cynthia Villar, Sen. Miguel Zubiri, Sen. Sonny Angara, Sen. Win Gatchalian, Cong. John Bertiz, Lucio Tan, Teresita Sy-Coson, Butch Campos, Leonardo Dayao, Joseph Chua, Jeffrey Ng, Kenneth Yang, Ernest Tan Mantiong and Alfonso Uy all joined the third town hall session with the President.

PA Joey Concepcion and family with Sec. Jess Dureza, Sec. Manny Pinol, Sec. Ramon Lopez, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and President Rodrigo Duterte.

PA Joey Concepcion and family with Sec. Jess Dureza, Sec. Manny Pinol, Sec. Ramon Lopez, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and President Rodrigo Duterte.

Our partner Manny Pangilinan and his companies pledged for different infrastructures including the CSR hospital project of Metro Pacific Zamboanga Hospital Corporation and PLDT Enterprise. They will also rehabilitate their SMART network facilities. A coconut processing plant will also be restored. MVP Group also donated 40 homes to the Gawad Kalinga Kapatid Villages. Through its water services provider, Maynilad, the GK villages will be provided with water systems in their areas.
Sec. Manny Pinol confirmed that Ramon Ang’s San Miguel Corporation will build a 50MW power plant. They will also rehabilitate the Hadji Butu School of Arts and Trade which is one of the oldest schools in Sulu. A feed mill supply facility will also be built in the area.

In order to easily transport progress and bring economic activities in Sulu, the LT Group led by Lucio Tan and son Michael Tan is looking into resuming the commercial flights of Philippine Airlines to Jolo via Zamboanga. Michael Tan, as mentioned by Ginggay Hontiveros, is one of the first entrepreneurs who have committed their support to this project. Michael also gave support for GK houses.

Aside from that, the LT Group through the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry led by Angel Ngu also gave support in building classroom buildings for the children of Sulu. In total, the FFCCCII is funding 16 classroom buildings which will have a total of 30 classrooms.

Cong. Arthur Yap who is very active in our agriculture group and projects is also supporting the construction of a classroom building. There are many entrepreneurs who donated houses for the GK Villages. Among those who committed were Sec. Ramon Lopez, Manny Osmena, William Belo, and many more. 200 houses were already pledged for GK Kapatid Villages.

Tennyson Chen and the Bounty Fresh Group will have a contract growing for poultry program for the farmers. There will also be Chooks-to-go outlets to open in Sulu.

The Kapatid Agri Mentors Group is eager to help the farmers and mentor them for fruits and vegetables growing. This mentoring program is in partnership with academic institutions such as Nortre Dame of Jolo, and Mindanao State University of Sulu.

Hygiene kits are also being provided by Cecilio Pedro and Lamoiyan Corporation. National Bookstore led by Nanay Coring and Xandra Ramos-Padilla will be giving away school supplies and slippers for at least 100,000 children. Robina Gokongwei-Pe of JG Summit will support the local coffee farmers of Sulu and will committed the involvement of the JG Summit company in the Mentor Me Program of Go Negosyo and DTI.

Datu Shah Abdusakur Tan and Sulu Governor Toto Tan are delighted to hear all the commitments of the big brothers. These are just some of the support that will be given to Sulu. I am sure that there will be more pledges in the coming days. After all, it is the season for giving. We are looking forward to the success of this project and hopefully Sulu will be experience peace because of progress and prosperity.

Celebration of Inclusive Growth

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Bayanihan is a Filipino term we often use to refer to a communal effort done to achieve an objective. Traditionally, bayanihan happens when members of the community volunteer to help move one house from one place to another, without any pay. Today, we seldom see this practice, but bayanihan is still part of the Filipino system in a modern way.

I say this because the activities that we are doing in partnership with President Duterte’s government and the members of the business community remind me of the hand-in-hand effort of every man in the barrios. Everyone wants to be part of the development, of achieving the goal of inclusive growth. President Duterte’s decisions are all for the betterment of this country. And today, more Filipinos are active citizens who want to take part in the action.

Christmas Townhall with President Rodrigo Duterte on December 19, 2016.

Christmas Townhall with President Rodrigo Duterte on December 19, 2016.

Recently, I have informed you of the partnership that we are doing with Sec. Manny Pinol of the Department of Agriculture in order to bring hope and growth to Sulu. As we all know, Sulu is one of the war torn provinces in the country. Through the Negosyo para sa Kapayapaan sa Sulu project, we hope to bring peace and socio-economic development to the communities in the province.

Last September, Sec. Manny Pinol showed to us some photos of Sulu when they visited the province. It showed shabby classrooms with torn ceilings, broken windows, and dilapidated chairs. At first, you cannot imagine how kids still use these facilities. How can their environment be conducive for learning? From this initial meeting, we have formulated the project not only for the children of Sulu but for all members of their community. We thought of livelihood programs, mentorships, infrastructure and facilities.

From a simple call to action, many entrepreneurs have joined the Sulu mission. Some of these entrepreneurs include Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corporation, Manny Pangilinan of MVP Group, Lucio Tan of LT Group, Tennyson Chen of Bounty Fresh Corporation, Henry Lim Bon Liong of Sterling Group, Rosalind Wee of W Group (who also hails from Sulu), different chambers such as Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Chamber of Mines, Indian Chamber of Commerce, and many more. I would love to list them all down but there will not be enough space for all their genuine acts of kindness and brotherhood. This is what I can say is modern day bayanihan, the act of cooperation to extend help to the less fortunate members of the society.

In totality of the pledges, there will be 32 classrooms, more than 100 houses, poultry farms, power plants telecommunications satellites, and hospital which will be constructed or rebuilt. Aside from these, there will be a support for the establishment of carrageenan industry and other agriculture industries. Mentorship, literacy program and trainings will also be provided for farmers and other members of the community. Our Go Negosyo mentors are willing to fly to Sulu and teach them on how to become creative, innovative, and enterprising. Libraries will also be constructed for the children. These are just the first batch of pledges for Sulu. I am sure there will be more.

On Monday, we will have another town hall discussion with President Duterte. This will be the third town hall and we are grateful for Mr. President for accommodating our invitations. He is really an advocate of entrepreneurship and of improving the lives of all Filipinos.

The town hall discussion will not only focus on the Sulu project but also for all the efforts of the private sector which are contributing to nation building. This includes the direct linkage of big brother retailers to the onion and garlic farmers which I mentioned last time. Overall, this will be a celebration of inclusive growth!

We will be joined by the Go Negosyo community and some leaders and community members from Sulu headed by Datu Shah Bandar Abdusakur Tan and Governor Abdusakur “Totoh” Tan II. Our agri-entrepreneur and mentors will also join us as they promote agricultural growth and success.

This is very timely to the Christmas season. In fact, we are also calling this Christmas town hall because it is a time for giving and sharing blessings. Entrepreneurs are blessed to have their businesses running and in return, they are giving back to those who need the most.

Sulu has a bright future. If there are no wars in that area, the people will enjoy all the resources that are available. Hopefully, through this program of modern bayanihan, peace, harmony, and prosperity will be achieved.

Call for Stories: Kwentong Go Negosyo

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

For the past 11 years, Go Negosyo has played the role of a storyteller. Our programs, activities and interventions are most often than not geared towards drumbeating the inspiring success stories of Filipino entrepreneurs to more people – may it be through our sectoral summits where we invite them as power speakers or as panelists in the forums, or through our multimedia platforms via our TV and radio shows, our social media channels and through the Philippine Star column and most notably, through the Go Negosyo publications – feature books that we are continuously producing. These are all for one goal: to tell everyone that if they were able to do it, we can too.

And that is why we want to know your Kwentong Go Negosyo.

  • Did Go Negosyo inspire you to put up your business?
  • Did Go Negosyo help you to solve a problem with your enterprise?
  • Are you a frequent listener of our radio show or an avid reader of our books?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, share your story with us!

E-mail your entrepreneurial story to and tell us what Go Negosyo has done for your business.

If chosen, we will feature your business in our website and our social media accounts.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Big Brothers from the Food Industry Pledge to help Small Farmers

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

November 30, 2016 -Food industry giants shared their best practices, ideas and best of all, their commitment to pursuing direct purchasing with the onion farmers of Nueva Ecija.

Department of Agriculture Secretary Piñol led the discussions about the shift to a more market-based agricultural industry during the historic convergence of big food companies and small onion farmers. The night covered several concerns of both parties regarding pricing, transportation, technology, financing and scaling up.

Jollibee Foundation has pledged to share their best practices from it’s engagement with farmers as suppliers. They currently work with twelve farm cooperatives, six of which supply them with onion. Other produces they’ve been able to directly source from the co-ops are bell peppers, calamansi and hot chili. Gisela Tiongson from Jollibee Foundation shares that over the years, what was instrumental to this program’s success was the help of the local government units and microfinance institutions that aided the farmers financially not only through loans, but also through financial literacy trainings.

Department of Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol.

Department of Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol.

“They (Jollibee Foundation co-op farms) continue to to aspire for a better future. That’s why one of the challenges that I wanted to bring up to the department (DOA), and I’m glad that the secretary and leaders here today were very supportive, are issues related to transport and post-harvest facilities. Another area we can invest in is the Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) certification for the farmers because it tackles the whole issue of food safety. So, I’m really glad that Go Negosyo is embarking on this together with the DOA so that we can help more farmers in the homeland.” Tiongson said after the meeting.

The GAP program which Tiongson referred to was also discussed by the Golden Arches Development Corp. because of it’s possible application for the onion farmers. Golden Arches Development Corp. has helped farmers in Benguet become effective suppliers of iceberg lettuce, a high-value crop, through getting them GAP certification, training and land cultivation. The group hopes that their success can be replicated for the onion group and shares that they are now looking to apply their methods to coffee growers in Mindanao.

The Robinson’s Supermarket representatives also expressed that they’ve already been engaging with farmers directly for the produce in their supermarkets. “We’ve been working with Jollibee foundation and their farmers and we’re looking at how to scale up,” Jody Gadia, the General Manager of Robinson’s Supermarket Corp., said.

Chris Po of Century Pacific Group, Irwin Lee of Rustan’s Supercenters and Robert Trota of Max's Group.

Chris Po of Century Pacific Group, Irwin Lee of Rustan’s Supercenters and Robert Trota of Max’s Group.

Following suit, the Rustan’s Group CEO Irwin Lee addressed the farmers directly about their commitment to purchasing the onions and that it’s now more about how they can move forward. “We trust the quality that you’ve said your product has, I guess it’s more of the quantity and pricing we’ll have to work out. So, let’s talk,” Lee said.

The Century Pacific Corp., pledged to look into facilities that can make local red onions more standardised and viable for sourcing. A big concern they brought up was the tons of onions that usually go to waste because they don’t meet market standards. They urged the government to initiate more collaborations with other departments such as the the Department of Energy and the Department of Science & Technology to maximize the potential of the local onion supply.

They said that a model like India’s and China’s wherein excess supplies are being dehydrated or grinded can actually increase the potential market of onion farmers. If these measure move forward, Rex Agarado from the company says that Century Pacific can buy 6000 tons of these onion products.

The general mood after the meeting was optimistic. Officials from other food corporations present such as SM Group, Max’s Group, Shakey’s Philippines, CDO Foodsphere, Shopwise, and Philippine Dairy Corp. expressed their excitement for these collaborations push forward. Several representatives also shared that they’ve already made previous attempts to directly purchase from farmers but met certain road blocks such as inconsistent quality and pricing.

Macho Mucho: The Balance Between a Unique Vision and Exemplary Execution

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Two is definitely better than one in the case of the award-winning barbershop Macho Mucho by siblings Ralph and Kaye Layco. Go Negosyo crossed paths with these two at last year’s Youth Entrepreneurship Development Workshop (YEDW), a project in partnership with the U.S. Embassy, wherein Kaye ultimately took home one of the top prizes. Today, their verging enterprise is taking the men’s grooming services and products by storm – filling up a market that few entrepreneurs have successfully garnered or even considered.

The vision behind Macho Mucho was Ralph’s initial problem with finding the ideal and affordable barbershop for men like him. This frustration turned into the inception of Macho Mucho – a hybrid barbershop that combines the masculine and detailed stylings of high-end barbershops and the service & pampering that salons offer, all at an affordable price.

Packed with this vision and the marketing experience, there was only one thing that stopped Ralph from making Macho Mucho a success: the operational know-how. This problem pervaded in his other initial business ventures as well. He shares that it led him to an existential crisis, “I asked – why were my businesses failing?”

Siblings Ralph and Kaye Layco. Photo courtesy of Entrepreneur.

Siblings Ralph and Kaye Layco. Photo courtesy of Entrepreneur.

Enter in his younger sister, Kaye – an industrial engineer and natural problem-solver. She never saw herself owning a business but a slip of fate and extra cash led her into the world of entrepreneurship – becoming the essential piece missing in Macho Mucho’s success.
With Ralph’s marketing prowess and Kaye’s knack for operations, the pair decided to team up and formed what would eventually become SAM Asia, Inc.

With Ralph in charge of marketing and Kaye at the head of operations, the two proved to be an unstoppable duo. The siblings’ respective strengths were brought to a new level upon collaboration – leading them to commercial success first in General Santos and then in Davao.

However, the two believe it was their involvement with Go Negosyo that served as their launch pad to greater success. It doesn’t happen all that often wherein a brand from the provinces is able to successfully enter the very competitive Manila market. But armed with a unique vision matched with exemplary execution, Macho Mucho has proven itself to be a force to be reckoned with especially when they joined YEDW.

“Go Negosyo took away a lot of our doubts – it made us feel that we are capable. We had a probinsyano complex before – we thought our reach was only in Mindanao. It was during YEDW when we talked with the mentors and our peers that we realized we could make it in Manila,” Kaye shared.

Today, Macho Mucho has expanded to Manila with a franchise in SM North EDSA already running and one in Mckinley Business Center about to open soon – something the two Mindanao natives consider a personal success.

“We used to get comments from our earlier customers in Mindanao that they thought we were a franchise from Manila and even from abroad, which we chalked up as just compliments but not something we could achieve,” Kaye shares.

Ralph believes that the validation they received in the Go Negosyo community proved to be invaluable in expanding their business. “But it’s not because of pride or ego. It’s more of the consistent network of support that celebrated what we were doing and showed us we weren’t alone in our struggles.”

Kaye was also grateful for the wisdom mentors imparted to them. “A lot of what the mentors share is inspiring and practical. But I remember Sir Edwin To (Owner, Budgetwise) and his talk on business being about practice and innovation. It really taught me that success doesn’t happen overnight.”

Ralph happily shares that they’re passed the point of doubting. “At the start it’s natural to have lots of doubts. But thankfully we’ve found a formula that works for us. So, we’re now at the point where we can be more creative and think about our social impact.”

Looking forward, the future looks bright for the Layco siblings.

“We have this vision of waving the Filipino flag – we want to dream big and go global. Also, in some way, we want to do what Go Negosyo has done for entrepreneurs like us. We want to validate other young people’s ideas – that they can do what we were able to,” Ralph shares.

Kaye added that although the vision of going global seems farfetched right now, she will do what she does best by stitching everything together for the bigger picture. “We have a small, but talented and driven team. We have a vision; we stick to it but we also play around with it. I see my role in that – being the one to put everything together and keeping my team in line.”

Microentrepreneurs Level-up through Microfinance

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Every year, I am glad to be part of the National Selection Committee of the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards organized by Citi Foundation in cooperation with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Microfinance Council of the Philippines, and Citi Philippines. They award microentrepreneurs who have been successful and slowly making their way up with the support of microfinancing.

Citi Philippines CEO Aftab Ahmed mentioned that there are more than 100 nominations submitted this year which was then trimmed down to 15 finalists. From these stories of trials and success, eight were recognized as winners.

BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. shared that the winners proved that through an inclusive financial system, they were given “better access to financial products and services that empower individuals and enterprises to seize economic activities.”

Back Row (L-R): Youth Microentrepreneur of the Year Kevin Pacatang, Special Awardee for Green/Sustainable Business Manuel Iwayan, University of the Philippines Chancellor Michael Tan, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco, Ayala Corporation President Fernando Zobel de Ayala, Philippine Airlines Inc. Independent Director Antonio Alindogan, Citi Philippines CEO Aftab Ahmed, Special Awardee for Community Leadership Wiberto Dagame and Special Awardee for Agri Micro-Business Renato Mercado. Front Row (L-R): CMA Regional Awardee from Visayas Angelita Dagoc, CMA Regional Awardee from Luzon Richiel Vargas, CMA Microentrepreneur of the Year Honie Navor, CMA Regional Awardee from Mindanao Marcelina Occeña and The Philippine Daily Inquirer Chair Marixi Prieto.

Back Row (L-R): Youth Microentrepreneur of the Year Kevin Pacatang, Special Awardee for Green/Sustainable Business Manuel Iwayan, University of the Philippines Chancellor Michael Tan, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco, Ayala Corporation President Fernando Zobel de Ayala, Philippine Airlines Inc. Independent Director Antonio Alindogan, Citi Philippines CEO Aftab Ahmed, Special Awardee for Community Leadership Wiberto Dagame and Special Awardee for Agri Micro-Business Renato Mercado.
Front Row (L-R): CMA Regional Awardee from Visayas Angelita Dagoc, CMA Regional Awardee from Luzon Richiel Vargas, CMA Microentrepreneur of the Year Honie Navor, CMA Regional Awardee from Mindanao Marcelina Occeña and The Philippine Daily Inquirer Chair Marixi Prieto.

The national winner is a young female entrepreneur from Iloilo City. At 26, Honie Krizia Navor already owns a multi-million-peso enterprise. It may not be as fashionable as those favored by her peers but, through dedication and hard work, she’s now a wholesaler and retailer of granite tiles, stones, and marble stones. Thanks to her clients’ support, she has also expanded to related businesses such as hauling and construction. The renovation of the University of San Agustin in Iloilo City is currently her biggest project. All of her employees, save for her mother and her secretary, are all male and several years her senior but this does not deter her. She takes pride in running a business that not many women think of entering.

Richiel Vargas won the Regional Award for Luzon. Richiel began her garment manufacturing business with a single sewing machine. Using her ten years of factory sewing experience, her enterprise now makes garments such as armbands, gloves, bonnets, face masks, and motors masks designed specifically. When starting out the business, she took a hands-on approach by directly going to vendors in Baclaran and Divisoria who were willing to sell her products. Product quality is one of her top priorities; at the end of each production day, her husband and she does quality checking themselves.

Frangeli Guitars is known for selling the “Best Guitars” in Cebu City. Angelita Dagoc, regional awardee for Visayas, initially started as a construction materials retailer. However, it wasn’t successful or sustainable. Using the leftover lumber from the old venture, they took another shot by making wooden handicrafts and string instruments. Business boomed. Their willingness to join trade fairs and market their products from different parts of the country also helped increase their reach abroad—even as far as to export consistently to Fiji, Hawaii, and Tahiti. Apart from the perceived sustainability, her discipline to continually re-invest savings to build her capital helps her grow the business.

Also, Marcelina Occena, regional awardee for Mindanao, uses a combination of 36 different herbs to provide an all-natural remedy to UTI, stomach aches, body pain, muscle fatigue, coughs and colds, and migraine to poor farmers and families who cannot pay costly hospital bills. Unlike other products in the market, her herbal oil is orally consumed in order to experience the effect faster. Furthermore, she consistently delivers to farmers in her community whom she believes needs her herbal oil the most after a grueling day’s work. In the future, she plans to diversify her business by adding a cacao farm and supplying fruit juice ingredients.

A young entrepreneur Kevin Pacatang also won the Youth Microentrepeneur award. Kevin has been co-managing his mother’s business as early as 2011, while still studying. As a child, he grew up in the business—tagging along his mother when she sold their products in the community, processing the beans of tablea and coffee, and delivering their goods when he grew older. In 2014, he gained full autonomy of managing the business and he took a Php200,000 loan from Paglaum Multipurpose Cooperative for additional capital. In the future, Kevin plans to expand his business by targeting bigger malls in the region. He also plants on consigning in all pasalubong areas.

There were also special awards given.

Manuel Iwayan was recognized for his green and sustainable enterprise. The idea spawned from his time as a hacienda driver when he saw his employer ordering plant pots made from rubber tires. He notices that, in their community, many old tires were being discarded as garbage. This gave him an idea. With a capital of Php45, he ventured on his own and collected old rubber tires from trash bins to convert them into plant pots. His obras evolved from plant pots to other recycled products such as garbage bins, swing sets, garden sets, and rubber bushing for vehicles.

Renato Mercado won the award for Agri Microbusiness. Starting with a Php5,000 loan from Bangko Kabayan, he bought chicken manure to turn into organic fertilizer which he sold to farmers in his barangay. It’s customary that farmers use synthetic fertilizers because it’s cheaper. Renato, on the other hand, believed that quality produce comes from the quality of their fertilizers so he made his own. On good days, he delivers 3 truckloads with 200 sacks per truck but this number shrinks to 1 truck on rainy days. To prove that his fertilizers is as effective as he claims, he also launched a sideline business in planting corn, tomatoes, pechay and eggplants.

Last but not the least, Wilberto Dagame received the Community Leadership award. Known locally as “Mang Bert”, he started out when their small community became interested in selling Yema. Instead of the normal Yema, he developed yema-based pastries and candy products as well as pastillas to his lineup. He allots 80% of his profits to reinvest back into his business while the remaining 20% goes to expenditures. His plans for the future include incorporating honey and kapeng barako to diversify their product line. Today, he actively works with the Department of Agriculture in Lipa, DOST, and Lipa Beekeepers.

I hope these stories inspire you to start your own entrepreneurial journey!

Employees at DHL Express Philippines Display their On-Going Commitment to Volunteerism

Monday, December 5th, 2016
DHL Express Philippines  Country Manager Nurhayati Abdullah.

DHL Express Philippines Country Manager Nurhayati Abdullah.

DHL Express, the world’s leading international express services provider, has displayed its strong commitment towards giving back to local communities and instilling a spirit of volunteerism through a series of employee-led corporate social responsibility activities within Malabon and Manila.

Last month, in partnership with Food for the Hungry Philippines, a non-profit organization which aims to end poverty for the benefit of children, who are the most vulnerable part of the community, DHL employees across the various functions spent the day with 47 underprivileged public elementary students from Malabon Elementary School. They distributed nutritious breakfast, planted trees with the children within the school compound and conducted a vision workshop that helped the children list their aspirations on the four focus areas of family, friends, school and the future. There was also a donation activity held, and the day concluded with the creation a handprint collage together with the children and employees.

Later that day, another group of employees went to the Philippine General Hospital in Manila to share joy for the children at the pediatric ward, distributing food and goodie bags. A mascot was also brought in to entertain and bring joy to the children.

Earlier this year,  DHL ran an environmental awareness workshop in partnership with Teach for Philippines for 60 underprivileged public elementary students from Quezon City. The workshop comprised various activities and discussions on the importance of reducing, recycling, and segregating waste, as part of the company’s Global Volunteer Day 2016.  Fundraising projects such as replacing coffee with water in vending machines in DHL offices, food and clothing bazaars, and a benefit concert were held. The proceeds were donated to beneficiaries chosen by the employees.

“Over the past five years, we’ve been organizing programs as part of Global Volunteer Day and through these activities, our employee volunteers have been able to contribute back to our local communities. We have ignited a spirit of volunteerism amongst our employees, and am very proud of the dedication and commitment they have displayed. They have not only dedicated themselves at work, but also their personal time for these activities,” shared Nurhayati Abdullah, Country Manager, DHL Express Philippines.

DHL Express Philippines employees with the Malabon Elementary School students during DHL’s cross-functional volunteer day.

DHL Express Philippines employees with the Malabon Elementary School students during DHL’s cross-functional volunteer day.

Nurhayati Abdullah, Country Manager, DHL Express Philippines leads the handprint collage together with the DHL Express Philippines employees to reinforce the spirit of volunteerism within the organization.

Nurhayati Abdullah, Country Manager, DHL Express Philippines leads the handprint collage together with the DHL Express Philippines employees to reinforce the spirit of volunteerism within the organization.

DHL Express Philippines employees packing up the loot bag for the recipients in Philippine General Hospital.

DHL Express Philippines employees packing up the loot bag for the recipients in Philippine General Hospital.

Nurturing the Small Farmers to Become Quality Farmer

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

“ I want a training program that is serious and effective, for small vegetable farmers to produce enough food for their family, and earn a decent livelihood from vegetable farming”… these words from Tatang Henry Sy, Sr. still echo in my heart up to now.

Ten years ago, on a Sunday afternoon at his sala, with the NBA basketball game as our backdrop, Tatang crystallized the KABALIKAT SA KABUHAYAN sustainable farming training module for small farmers. Harbest Agritech then was handling season-long, hands-on training on modern, yet simple and doable, agronomic technology for vegetables farming with the Department of Agriculture, Department of Land Reform, NGOs and LGUs for local farmers.

In a few days, Ms. Cristie Angeles, the AVP of SM Foundation, Inc., in charge of livelihood and special projects, called me for a meeting to prepare a working plan for the “trial” project to be conducted at Bacolod City, in cooperation with the Negros Economic Development Foundation, Inc. (NEDF) at their Handumanan Training Farm.  The instruction from Ms. Tessie S. Coson, head of the SM Group was simple.  In case the project is successful, the project will be implemented in other places. The rest is history.

The KABALIKAT SA KABUHAYAN is on its tenth year and has implemented 130 batches all over the Philippines, training more than 13,000 small farmers, LGU agriculturisits and urban edible gardeners.  It has become one of the pillars of SM FOUNDATION’s  corporate social responsibility project aptly branded , People helping people!


The most effective way to train farmers is showing them how agronomic technologies are applied after learning the whys.  Hence, the Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan training, popularly referred to as KSK, is done in twelve weekly sessions on-site.  We refer to the training module as dual-tech, after the effective German pedagogical model of teaching the technology through lecture and power point, then actual hands-on practice is done by each participant, guided by the trainors from Harbest.  It is so common to hear from the trainees t

his comment – “ bakit ngayon lang itong klaseng training?”.

The training starts from land preparation, preparing the soil and making plots with the use of a small hand-tractor and hand tools like rakes, shovel and bare hand.  Then basal fertilizers are applied, mainly organic fertilizer like compost and vermicast.  Plastic mulching film is installed to prevent weeds, leeching, lessen mortality, ease in management and protects the standing crops from heavy rain. Proper seedling technology using seedling trays and nurseries, save a lot on seed cost and labor, producing healthy seedlings all the time. Fertilization, irrigation, pests and diseases identification and control, crops management, fruit monitoring, harvesting and post-harvest handling.

Discipline is instilled to each participant like punctuality, two-absence only policy, attention during training sessions by taking down notes and asking questions, cooperation with group members as the participants numbering a hundred per batch are grouped into 20 to 30 under a group leader, and bringing their own food.

About twenty types of crops are planted.  Leafy vegetables such as upland Kangkong, Petchay, Lettuce and Mustasa.  Pinakbet vegetables – Eggplant, Squash, Tomato, Ampalaya, Okra and Sitao. Watermelon, Melon and Honeydew.  Supersweet corn.  Radish. Succhini. Upo. Patola. Cucumber. Different varieties are planted.

The SM FOOD GROUP staff provides mentoring on packaging, labeling, pricing and market linkages with suppliers to supermarkets.  Consolidators are invited to provide guidance on quality standard, delivery and pricing policies, payment terms. A harvest festival choreographed by the staff turns the day festive, filled with fun games. The graduates are guided by fresh food managers of the SM Supermarket or Hypermart around the fresh vegetables and fruits section on a tour around the clean and air-conditioned market.

Thousands of success stories, which can be covered in another article, have encouraged a lot of farm families to pursue their farming, though how small, and provide for their food on the table and income to support a dignified family life. LGU executives have adapted the program to sustain their own food security objective.

We look forward to another decade of helping farmers help themselves, and helping their neighbors to become quality farmers.

Written by Arsenio Toto Barcelona, President of Harbest Agribusiness Corporation, a happy partner of SM FOUNDATION, INC.