Solutions to Hunger (Part 2)

April 12th, 2007

It seems my column entitled “God’s Greatest Gift” which was written two weeks ago when my daughter Maria Isabella Alexandria was born has elicited a lot of response. Thanks to those who sent kind emails/messages. In a way, I guess we have also inspired those still trying to have children above 40 years old. My wife mentioned to me that this is one gift that you cannot buy even if you wanted to. Seeing my newborn daughter every day is absolutely priceless.

I also discussed a very timely and important topic last week which was about hunger. To those who have not read that column that came out last Maundy Thursday, let me point out some key points.

Hunger is one of the most prevalent and age-old problems that our country is suffering until now. The root of the problem I believe is the lack of “responsible parenthood” where some would have too many kids, not knowing how they can adequately provide for their bright future like the right kinds of food, shelter and good education. I guess many still rely on others like government for support and doleouts from other sectors. While there are programs of government that take care of these, the number of dependents simply multiply geometrically that it would become impossible to service everyone. And it is also this practice that perpetuates that cycle. And to those not happy would simply complain and blame everyone except themselves.

Thus, it is this cycle that we must aim to break. We must create that mindset of optimism, a can do- winning attitude that would make them do something productive and take control of their lives, no longer relying on others for support. Spreading a culture of entrepreneurship I believe is one of the ways we can solve this problem. And as we advocate entrepreneurship, let it be not simply getting into business. I think we can see many Pinoy entreps but mostly considered survival entrepreneurs. What we must advocate is the kind of entrepreneurial mindset that always seeks for unserved demand, one that develops better concepts and innovations that have better market opportunities. Being different pays as long as their creativity translate to products or services that are very relevant to and affordable for the consumers. If we are able to create this generation of enterprising Pinoys, then I absolutely do not see any reason why Filipinos will go hungry.


* * * * *


Here are other contributions from entrepreneurs on how we should solve the hunger problem in this country:

DRA. VICKY BELO
(Owner and Medical Director, Belo Medical Group)
It starts with family where an entrepreneurial mindset is molded by our parents. From the age of 5 my mother would bring cute things from the US for me to sell in school. It inculcated in me the joy of entrepreneurship.

Our educational system should also refocus its thrust and undergo a certain entrepreneurial renaissance. There should also be a major Government advocacy in encouraging and recognizing entrepreneurship.

Another way is to provide incentives and increase small and medium scale financing programs. We should move from a nation of managers to a nation of owners. Being entrepreneurs satisfies our personal needs for freedom, flexibility, variety, creativity, responsibility, control and authority.

JOHNLU KOA
(Founder and CEO, French Baker)
The development of a culture of entrepreneurship among Filipinos must begin with the belief that risks are attendant to any business venture. Failure should be taken as an opportunity for learning and not a reason for quitting. The Filipino entrepreneur must always be able to constantly draw insights from their target consumers on how to better serve their needs. Short-term benefits for himself must give way to long term goals of the enterprise such as ploughing back profits into the business for expansion. Finally, government must create an environment conducive for business. It should not only regulate but also promote business activities.

USEC. ZORAIDA “MEL” ALONZO
(DTI Undersecretary for Small and Medium Enterprises Development)
We should start with the youth: with the help of educators, especially entrepreneurship educators, we should make entrepreneurship a more popular option for the youth who are planning their future, and will be shaping our country’s future as well. We must stress the enormous potential of entrepreneurs to generate not only their own income but jobs for others as well. The DTI, for instance, through the SME Development Group, has partnered with colleges and universities for its Campus Tour—Entrepreneurship Series, which coaches student participants on the basics of entrepreneurship. We have also embarked on a project with the Department of Education’s Youth Entrepreneurship and Cooperativism in School. Although a module on entrepreneurship had already been included in the curriculum of primary and secondary schools to give students income options at an early stage, this module covered skills development, and not much emphasis was given to business management, business planning, work values and attitudes. So we seek to address this gap through the training of teachers, principals and division heads on these aspects of business, after which they are expected to turn around and pass on their learnings to their students under the existing class module on entrepreneurship.

MERNARDO “BUTCH” JIMENEZ (Senior Vice President, PLDT)
Entrepreneurship is a combination of good business sense and creativity. The first one can be learned, the second Filipinos are already born with. So definitely, Filipinos have what it takes to become entrepreneurs. Developing a culture is a long process, and experts will tell you the most effective way to develop a culture is to catch them while they are young. So in my view, if we want to develop a culture of entrepreneurs among Filipinos lets start exposing children now to the values of entrepreneurship and we will have a nation of entrepreneurs in less than a generation.

DR. ROLANDO HORTALEZA
(Chairman and CEO, Splash Corporation)
I think we should start them young. Let entrepreneurial education be a part of our school curriculum – from elementary to college. Let’s have more universities offering courses on entrepreneurship. Let’s persuade our successful entrepreneurs to reach out to our young people so that they may become role models to them. Let us build the environment that will encourage our youth to consider entrepreneurship as career instead of just looking forward to being employed in some big firms. To develop a culture we have to plant seeds. And what better way to plant the seeds of entrepreneurship than in the hearts and minds of our future generation.