Poverty is the problem

March 22nd, 2012

The much talked about mining debate took center stage, briefly rating better than the trial on the chief justice. The real issue here to my mind is poverty; this is the country’s biggest problem. The Philippines must tap on its vast resources, and this would include tapping mining sites, and we should just ensure that we have responsible miners.

It’s easy to determine which locations in the Philippines have potential for tourism as investors wouldn’t buy into an area where there’s no tourism potential. So potential for tourism and mining shouldn’t clash, neither should it interfere with the environment. Sometimes, environmentalists are pushing things to the extreme.

This coming July, as the Habagat season arrives, we’d witness trash accumulate in the Manila Bay. All the trash coming from the Pasig River will start to build up into small islands of trash. This is an annual problem. Those living around the Laguna Bay and Pasig River just continue throwing their trash in the water.

Poverty is the Philippines’ biggest problem and is the root cause of all these issues that concern the environment. We should develop more responsible miners as well as encourage better revenue share for the government. In a chat with Sec. Cesar Purisima at a cocktail, he mentioned that they’re looking prospectively on a new revenue share that’ll allow new mining investors to get their capital back first, and the profits are to be shared equally with the government. Investments in mining are huge and risky. We need to bring the big guys from Australia, Canada and China to invest here.

Just the other day, I had lunch with Mang Inasal founder Injap Sia. He started his business in Iloilo with humble beginnings. His parents and his own family didn’t travel while they were busy building their business. Talking to him is like hearing myself 15 years ago.

Injap continues to support Go Negosyo. We’ve recognized him as an entrepreneur about four years ago and he still remains as an active trustee. He plans to start visiting countries he has never been to and take his parents as well who have not had the chance to do so. I told him that he would get so many new ideas as he visits many countries and he may bring them back home. His latest baby project is Hotel 101. Hotel 101 is an innovative concept that aims to provide basic, no-frills hotel services (thus the name suffix 101), providing clean and comfortable rooms with basic amenities, uniformly sized (about 24 sq.m.), and uniformly priced.

This March, Injap will also receive his doctorate degree from his alma mater. This is quite remarkable for someone who didn’t finish college to get a well-deserved doctorate, a recognition for his exceptional achievement at a young age, applying everything he has learned and by being very street smart. I, too, haven’t finished college. Maybe I might get a doctorate degree one day as well. Just kidding.

Success is a great feeling and we at Go Negosyo are happy for those who achieve this through hard work and great passion. But with this success also comes bigger responsibility. Those who have made it to the top would do well to pay it forward by helping others attain the same.

About two years ago, Go Negosyo has intensified its efforts in bringing more attention to social entrepreneurship and corporate social innovation (CSI). We believe that as we promote the spirit of entrepreneurship, aspiring Filipino entrepreneurs should look as well at interesting business concepts that help solve a social issue or help underprivileged sectors in our country. We have been inspired to see a growing number of social entrepreneurs, and we see many more opportunities in this field.

Last March 1, we asked Angelpreneur and author Pax Lapid to represent Go Negosyo in Thailand for the 1st Asia Summit on Social Entrepreneurship. The summit was attended by 74 social entrepreneurs from 14 countries.

The highlight of the event was a message from keynote speaker Dr. Kriengsak, who expressed the importance of businesses (private enterprise), the government and civil society in working together to solve our social problems. Dr. K shared the key success factors for social enterprises to be sustainable: it must be a reputable organization with a proven track record; have extensive reach among its target beneficiaries through branch offices or alliances; and most young social enterprises should address the lack of business management skills, which must be developed sufficiently for capacity building.

Coming home, Dean Pax Lapid says he’s even more inspired to take Go Negosyo into the next horizon, where Angelpreneurs can help build more social enterprises (through education, mentorship & incubation). This will play a vital role in improving communities (focused marginalized segments of society) towards better living.

Similarly, our Executive Director Mon Lopez was invited to be a panelist in the recently held Philippine Social Enterprise Forum organized by ADB. The forum discussed the characteristics of successful social enterprises, where Go Negosyo was also cited as a thriving social enterprise in the advocacy of transformation and enabling other marginalized sectors by being entrepreneurial. Other speakers were Hapinoy co-founder Bam Aquino, as well as Professor Harvey Keh of Ateneo and Dr. Alip of CARD-MRI.

There’s definitely a growing number of social enterprises. In Go Negosyo, as we promote entrepreneurship, we challenge groups to try developing negosyo concepts that redound to benefit a particular sector. We believe that SE’s must primarily help address a social issue, but it also must still be sustainable with products that can really sell. The enterprise must be competitive, have a clear vision and unique positioning, serving unserved or underserved markets, and must continuously be innovative. Sounds like a real business? Yes, because it still is an enterprise. But to us, doing business while doing good is good business and this is now an emerging trend around the world.

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Watch out for the next PLDT- SME (Success Made Easy) Forum in Oakridge Pavillon in Mandaue, Cebu on March 27 at 3pm. I’ll be joining the other PLDT SME Nation Bossings in an interesting dialogue and mentoring sessions with our entrepreneur friends in Cebu.