PGMA the Entrepreneur

January 11th, 2007

What is the definition of an entrepreneur? According to AIM professor and entrep guru Andy Ferreria, entrepreneur originated from a French word which means “to undertake, to be in charge of, accountable for, or responsible for”. It does not necessarily mean owning a business since entrepreneurship is a way of life—a state of mind. Some may not agree with Andy since others believe the entrepreneur still needs things like capital in running the business. But instead of capital, it can also be the amount of time spent or the creativity a person uses in innovating or spotting opportunities in the market.

Then we also have intrapreneurs, those working within or for other organizations but having the traits of an entrepreneur who are basically innovators and those good in finding opportunities and pursuing them with passion and hard work.

So how can PGMA be an entrepreneur or an intrapreneur? Last Thursday I had a lunch meeting with the hard working Cerge Reymonde who was back to work even before the Christmas holidays and despite being in a neck brace after a spinal operation. PGMA appointed Cerge as the person in charge of developing MSMEs (micro-small and medium enterprises).

At 10am that day, I got a call that the President will join the lunch. During our lunch, it was my first real working encounter with PGMA and seeing how she really does possess the traits of an entrepreneur in running this country. One could see she was very passionate in pushing forward her vision for MSMEs. She truly wants to see this country move and become one of the most respected Asian countries before her term is over.  She is very hands on too since she could have just let the meeting with me and Cerge proceed but decided to be present in the first meeting.

Hands-on management is one of the key traits of many successful Chinese-Filipino entrepreneurs. As CEOs or entrepreneurs, we are also normally present in critical meetings. This is why you see Socorro Ramos going around her bookstores and personally inspecting each one even at the age of 80. You also see Henry Sy going around making sure that things are in their proper order in his malls and supermarkets.

Creativity is another important trait that I saw in PGMA. To me, creativity is a God given talent, it’s either you have it or you don’t. Also very much like an entrepreneur, she is able to identify business models that will differentiate and would create value.

She has clearly set a vision for the Philippines with micro small and medium enterprises serving as the backbone of the emerging economy. We see this in the USA and many Asian countries like India and China.  As more negosyos are created, more jobs are created.

PGMA is just like any other person who has strengths and weaknesses, but I can say that PGMA does possess what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur in her role in leading the nation as its Chief Executive Officer, and building an enterprising culture among Filipinos. It is very important for the CEO to be enterprising and instill that kind of culture in the organization.

The Philippines Inc is and should be run like a corporation. Its shareholders are the Filipinos, its operations managers are the executive branch and its board of directors are basically two sets:  the senators and congressmen. It would be ideal to have only one set of board of directors, like in a corporation, as it can speed up and facilitate the discussions that would lead to faster decision-making for a more progressive Philippines Inc. If the structure is too heavy, where you have two separate bodies who act as the board of directors, this will ultimately slow down the organization.

The reason young and smaller corporations are able to rise faster is that decisions are made quicker with less bureaucracy. Some say that is the main reason why Singapore and other Asian countries have accelerated as fast as they did.

In line with this, we must also do our share as Filipino citizens. Let’s have a more positive attitude and entrepreneurial mindset. Let’s continue to search for market opportunities and innovations. If we all think this way, we will definitely continue with our country’s upward momentum. Here is a continuation of how entrepreneurs view 2007. Just like the previous batch, they share the same positive vision of the Philippine economy.

FRANCIS LIM (President, Philippine Stock Exchange)
The 42% rise in the stock market in 2006 is a testament to the economy’s growth and investor confidence. Corporate profits have gone up during the first nine months of 2006 by 32.5% under a more stable and healthy business environment and higher consumer demand. 

We share the same outlook of the government and international agencies of higher GDP growth for the country. The inflation rate is expected to go down further and interest rates to be stable if not going lower with lesser inflationary pressures and better fiscal management. Also, the continuous inflows of overseas remittances should continue to provide impetus for higher consumer demand.

A critical factor to sustaining growth this year is the holding of peaceful elections and the challenge to keep government spending according to program even with the said elections.

Overall, we believe that the basic economic fundamentals are in place to allow the private sector to continuously expand and even absorb any possible temporary setback to growth coming from political developments here and abroad.  We trust in the ingenuity of the private sector to continue improving their goods and services to top the profits they have attained in the past years.

KEVIN BELMONTE (President, Philstar.com)
I am bullish on our country’s prospects for 2007 and beyond. But beyond the obvious factors of sustained and consistent fiscal and economic reforms, peaceful elections, execution of lasting infrastructure programs, and enhanced security, we need to get serious about solving our overpopulation. Also, the gap between rich and poor continues to widen. We need to see more wealth trickle down.

ATTY. FELIPE L. GOZON (Chairman, President and CEO, GMA Network, Inc.)
Year 2007 opens the gateway for better opportunities in the market. A more creative business strategy is what is needed to help sustain our economic growth. Equally indispensable is the strong commitment to forge alliances in the business sector to obtain a globally competitive advantage in the world market. This can be made possible by adapting to new technological trends, risk-taking, in-depth market analysis, and a more customer-focused marketing strategy.

DENNIS MENDIOLA (CEO and President, Chikka Asia)
The peso will continue to hold value due to increased OFW remittances. This will also help contain fuel led inflation and lead to more disposable income for consumption. Election spending will also increase money supply which domestic entrepreneurs should take advantage of. The improved fiscal condition of the Philippines could lead to stable banking rates which would benefit local negosyantes. Stay the course. Muffle the political noise. Then we should be relatively ok.

DONNIE TANTOCO III (Executive Vice President, Shopwise Supercenter)
I believe that our macroeconomic situation will continue to improve in 2007. We should protect ourselves, however, from two main potential and external risks: a sudden increase in the price of energy and a sharp downturn in the US economy. Internally, a turbulent political environment will hurt business confidence and also derail past gains and continuing efforts to stabilize our country’s fiscal position.

The government and private sectors need to work harder and more effectively together to address longstanding and fundamental weaknesses such as infrastructure, law and order, security, and education. Beyond the remittances from OFWs, there needs to be other and equally meaningful ways to trickle down the benefits of a growing economy to the majority of Filipinos.

GOV. LUIS RAYMUND VILLAFUERTE JR. (Camarines Sur)
2007 is the year to reap gains brought by the strong resilience and resurgence of the economy in 2006. The peso is on an upsurge, unemployment is low, the influx of tourists is encouraging, exports and agricultural activity are up, our credit rating is positive and investor confidence is stronger than ever. We are on the verge of a significant economic take-off and this year will be the realization of that. I foresee more long term investors taking a serious interest in the Philippines and a definite improvement in our image as an ideal hub for business.

What is needed to sustain this is a better appreciation of what the national government has been doing to give our people a more stable economic climate. We are slowly but steadily reaping the benefits of sound fiscal policies and we are certainly on the right track. What we must then do is to instill a keener sense of collective and united Filipino pride amongst our people.  Let’s be positive, optimistic and hopeful because surely, better things are yet to come.

DOYEE TUMPALAN (President and CEO, First Quadrant Philippines Inc)
The economy is moving towards a positive direction. There is renewed investment confidence among businessmen and the spending power of the common Filipino has strengthened. The key to sustainability lies mainly in improved perception. The Philippines needs a renewed image away from too much politicking which breeds an impression of instability.  We need a fresh start with the new global Pinoy at the center stage.

MYLA VILLANUEVA (Managing Director, MDI Group Holdings, Inc.)
I am very optimistic of continued progress towards economic growth and stability, and I would like to believe our political leaders know that responsible and stable governance is a requisite for this.  I am hopeful and have faith that our government can deliver finally on our constant potential, with the cooperation of economic leaders as well.

MR. ALOYSIUS “NONOY” COLAYCO (President and Chairman, Level Up International)
2007 is likely to continue with strong growth. Main drivers will be OFW remittances, BPO service exports, higher corporate profits generally, and middle income housing. It would certainly help if the government is able to launch infrastructure projects as planned and the agricultural development initiatives.

RICO HIZON (Business and Financial News Anchor, BBC World News)
Developments in the political and economic reform fronts will play a crucial role in further spurring growth in the economy and bullishness in the stock market in 2007. The country is in an election year, and according to many regional strategists I have interviewed, given the current economic fundamentals which are positive, they hope that the Philippine’s political leaders will understand that the market can sustain its growth in 2007 and going forward, only if we can keep in place correct, sober and stable political and economic policies.

VICTOR TAN (President, Crolific Garments Manufacturing, Corp. maker of Bobson Jeans)
I’m positive on the momentum of our Philippine economy. We need political stability and lower deficits to sustain economic growth. We also need to focus on family planning as a means to regulate population growth. Let’s unite and move to the new era of the entrepreneur!