Go Negosyo salutes women of SMEs

March 14th, 2011

Last week, over 25,000 women (and men) celebrated with us at the World Trade Center for the Go Negosyo Women Entrepreneurship Summit and Expo, entitled Babae: Kapuso Ka ng Bayan, an event presented in partnership with the GMA Kapuso Network and The Philippine Star.

We kicked off the three-day summit with the awarding of this year’s Filipina STARpreneurs. It was a privilege for me to personally present them the recognition for bringing inspiration to our fellow Filipinos and for proving that women are naturally great negosyantes.Let me share with you the inspiring stories of the womenpreneurs we recognized in the SME category…

Teresita “Tess” Ngan-Tian, the President of Lot’s A Pizza, is one of the women we honored for her success in turning a small family food stall in to a successful franchise system here in the Philippines. She started her negosyo in 1987 with her husband, Eduardo. With their small savings as capital, they rented out a small space in Mendiola to sub-lease stalls. When no occupants leased three of the stalls, Tess came up with the idea of offering something different and affordable to the students, their usual patrons. That was the beginning of Lot’s A Pizza.

For Tess, it’s important to serve her customers good food that has lots of value, flavor and satisfaction in every slice. Today, Lot’s A Pizza has more than 112 outlets nationwide, which also provide employment to hundreds of workers.

Mary Grace Dimacali, the President of Mary Grace Foods, is a devoted mother and homemaker with a passion for baking. That’s why her successful negosyo of decadent cakes and baked goodies started and flourished right in her own home. Her home-based business allowed her to follow her passion and still have time for raising her children.

She started out as a holiday entrepreneur — baking fruitcakes, ensaymadas and cheese rolls, which she sold to her own neighbors during the Christmas season. Eventually, she joined Christmas bazaars; and that’s where foodies have grown to know Mary Grace’s delicious creations. Currently, Mary Grace has seven cafes and nine kiosks all over Metro Manila. Aside from being hardworking and passionate, Mary Grace is also very entrepreneurial. She took a Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship at AIM where she learned how to grow her negosyo in five years.

lydias-lechon-founder-and-owner-lydia-de-rocaAnother womenpreneur who started small and worked her way to success is Lydia De Roca, the founder and owner of Lydia’s Lechon. With just 500 pesos, she launched the first retail stall of Lydia’s Lechon near the Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Pasay City in 1965. Due to their signature Cebu-style lechon, excellent service and the cleanliness of their stall, churchgoers and other patrons kept coming back for more.

In 1987, Lydia welcomed customers to her first restaurant, which offered native dishes and their signature lechon, along Roxas Blvd. She also introduced to their patrons the boneless lechon stuffed with seafood paella, which became an instant hit. In 2005, Lydia opened Lydia’s Lechon for franchising. Since then, her negosyo has become the leading lechon wholesale and retail restaurant with more than 23 branches in the Philippines.

One woman who has changed the world of beauty and wellness in the country is Dr. Emma Guerrero, the President of Bioessence. She started her company as a three- bed clinic in Davao City in 1994. Her big dreams were her inspiration to work harder and to expand her negosyo. By 1998, she took Bioessence to Manila and opened six branches to bring beauty closer to more Filipinos.

Dr. Emma, who has a Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship, is an entrepreneur by heart who’s always thinking of ways to further and improve and grow her negosyo. In 2001, she opened Bioessence for franchising in response to the demand for relaxation and beauty services in the country. Today, Bioessence is considered a leader in the beauty industry for promoting beauty, wellness and a better lifestyle to Filipinos. It now has 44 branches all-over the Philippines, which provide employment to more than 600 workers.

For Grace Gupana, sweet success came in the form of bitter herbs. Grace is the Founder and CEO of ABS Gen Herbs, the leading player in supplements companies here in the Philippines. Grace has tried and failed in many negosyos, but a blessing came in 1999 when she learned about the natural healing benefits of ampalaya in treating diabetes and other ailments.

Since then, she devoted most of her time in studying and developing her negosyo that God intended for her to be able to supply for her family’s needs and to bring wellness to others. She has also become an advocate of promoting and spreading wholistic wellness here in the country through her products and health screening programs. For the future, Grace is aiming for more. She plans to continue to market the healing benefits of bitter herbs and hopes to expand her negosyo overseas.

Another inspiring Filipina we recognized this year is the young but successful Sara Black, the owner of Sara Black Photography – one of the most sought-after photography studios in the country today. Sara has graced the glossy pages of magazines and has appeared in a number of television commercials, but it was behind the lens that she found her passion and success in entrepreneurship.

Sara has always been fascinated with photography but the idea of making it into a negosyo came after she finished college. Eager to be one of the best in the industry, Sara read books on photography and tirelessly practiced the principles of capturing breathtaking photos. She also sought the guidance of veteran photographer Pancho Escaler, who helped her learn what she needed to know in putting up her own studio. Sara also draws ideas from her experience as a model to improve her negosyo, as it gives her insight on how to bring the best out of her subjects and models.

An inspiring womanpreneur who has helped hundreds of students excel and reach their full potential is Merle Alferez, the Founder of MSA Academic Advancement Institute. Merle started her tutorial business with just 240 pesos as capital in 1988. She used up the money to put up a signboard outside her home, which became the start of her successful negosyo. She helped her first student increase his Math grade from 63 to 87; and soon, students kept coming in. Merle knew her real capital was not money, but her knowledge and skills and her desire to improve the education system in the Philippines.

Today, Merle already has eight branches of MSA and a pre-school. Her company has also earned an ISO Certification, a first for a tutorial center here in the Philippines. Despite all the success, Merle has kept her priorities in check and has continued to improve the way she runs her negosyo. She sees to it that she not only shares her knowledge to others but her blessings as well. She donates books to public schools to help more Filipino children get quality education.

Marlyn Montano is another inspiring Filipina we honored last week for her achievements as an entrepreneur and her contributions to the world of animation. Marlyn, an artist with a Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship, is the Managing Director and Co-CEO of Holy Cow Animation, Inc. For more than 20 years, she has shared her talent and vision through animation productions for television shows, commercials and feature films here in the Philippines and oversees.

In 1999, she launched her company, Holy Cow Animation, Inc., to pursue her passion in creating world-class animation that would feature the talent of Filipinos. Marlyn vows to promote creativity and to help support and uplift Filipino artists and writers by acknowledging their original ideas. Through her company, she also aims to encourage aspiring artists to venture into animation and showcase their talent to the world.