An international study on entrepreneurship revealed that 70% of SME business startups in the Philippines are started by women, and this strong number is giving us the impression that women are more entrepreneurial. To sustain this, we at Go Negosyo continue to further encourage our Filipinas to take the entrepreneurial route, and eventually to create a nation of entrepreneurs that will finally end the evil spell of misery of poverty that has been with us for quite sometime.
On March 1, Go Negosyo will be mounting the fifth Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit at the World Trade Center Manila. In keeping with tradition, Go Negosyo has selected a pool of women entrepreneurs and enablers to recognize their valuable contributions in their respective fields, as well as to promote their stories to inspire aspiring entrepreneurs that they can also make it in life. The two Go Negosyo Women Entrepreneur Icons and the 11 Filipina Entrepreneurs of 2013 came from diverse backgrounds such as education, retail, agriculture, fashion, and medicine, and this shows us that Filipinas can actually carry their multiple burdens and succeed in their chosen fields. Let me share the stories of the inspiring women awardees that we will be recognizing next week.
One of Go Negosyo’s Women Entrepreneur Icons is Dr. Helena Z. Benitez of the Philippine Women University. She is probably the oldest active woman enabler in the country because despite being nearly 99 years old, she remains to represent PWU as its chairperson. Her life has been a constant source of inspiration for many women educators, mainly due to her efforts of leading PWU to reach its iconic status of being the premier institution of learning for women. As a senator and as the Philippine representative in the UN Commission on the Status of Women, Dr. Benitez has made her mark in the national and international community for her proactive approach in promoting education, youth development, and women empowerment in the mainstream.
So much is written about National Bookstore’s Socorro Ramos, who is the other recipient of Go Negosyo’s Women Entrepreneur Icon. Her humble beginnings as a bookstore salesgirl became her foundation to start her own negosyo, which has surpassed fires, typhoons, and even the Japanese Occupation, during its early years. Nanay Coring is an iconic figure that inspires all of us that even a lowly employee has the capacity to succeed in life through hard work, passion, and faith in God.
Another woman entrepreneur who has bravely faced the odds and succeeded in her field is Hyundai Asia Resources Inc.’s President and CEO Maria Fe Perez-Agudo. Fe, who we got to know as a marketing head and was an early Go Negosyo sponsor due to Richard Lee’s interest in helping the entrepreneurs, rose from the ranks. She was given a huge challenge to turn around an unknown automobile company in a male-dominated industry into one of the top brands in the Philippines, and through her efforts, Hyundai has grown from four to 41 dealerships, with 2,500 employees under the company’s wing.
From being a college professor and an entrepreneur, Cynthia Villar diverted her focus to social entrepreneurship through The Villar Foundation in 1992. The organization has helped thousands of families, from the OFWs to the mothers living in the poor communities, by teaching them an alternative and sustainable means of livelihood. We have been partners with her for quite sometime now, teaching the advocacy to the OFWs to help them invest their hard-earned money wisely.
What was once a hobby back in 1977 became Charita Puentespina’s avenue to success. Puentespina Orchids and Tropical Plants, Inc. was the result of her passion for horticulture, as her efforts to improve her own flowers through hybridization became the industry standard of quality.
Amb. Preciosa Soliven is a social philanthropist who brought the Montessori method of learning to the Philippines. Through the establishment of OB Montessori, Inc., she was able to introduce an alternative means of educating our youth by exploring their other talents and apply it in real-life situations.
Under the helm of Siu Ping Par, PR Gaz Holdings, Inc. became the industry leader in LPG retail in the country. Through her initiative, LPG became more accessible and affordable to the masses. Her drive to franchise the brand has assisted around a hundred franchisers to have their business of their own—a perfect picture of an entrepreneur helping other people to become entrepreneurs as well.
Tina Maristela-Ocampo has carved her niche not only in the Philippine fashion industry, but in the international scene as well. Her Celestina brand of bags became the mark for the foreign market to notice the innate creativity and world-class quality that Filipinos can offer.
Her love for Philippine cuisine inspired Glenda Barretto to establish Via Mare, a restaurant that has earned recognition by giving a classy and refreshing take on the classic Filipino dishes that we loved. She was able to cater to a lot of major political, social, and cultural affairs of the country in its 38 years of existence.
Dr. Eleanor B. Tan of Healthway Medical is one of the pioneer institutions that literally made healthcare accessible to the people by opening clinics in malls. Her vision of promoting wellness has been the driving force behind the company’s expansion, which now has seven clinics in major malls across Metro Manila.
Concertus Manila, one of the country’s premier events management company, is run by a woman in the person of Bambi Verzo. Her passion to promote the arts has paved the way for Concertus to bring world-renowned plays and foreign acts such as “Cats”, “The Phantom of the Opera”, and “Mamma Mia” to the local audience.
Coming from a long line of ophthalmologists in her family, Dr. Vivian Sarabia of Vivian Sarabia Optical was able to make a name for herself by introducing style and fashion to the otherwise dull eyewear. Her creativity is extending towards the quality of service that she provides, making her a favorite among her high-profile clients.
Lastly, Heny Sison of the Heny Sison Culinary School began teaching cake decorating at their home in 1985. She was able to establish not only a pristine reputation for her school, but she was also the mentor of some of the country’s best chefs and food entrepreneurs today.
As we welcome them to the Go Negosyo community, we are hoping that they can actively push the entrepreneurial advocacy forward by inspiring Filipinas that they, too, can reach for their dreams in life through the Go Negosyo mindset.