Mentors inspire

Mentors inspire

When we are in pain or experiencing discomfort, we usually go to the hospital to consult doctors to find out what is wrong. We needed someone to tell us what we should do to feel better. Same goes with mentoring. Mentors are the doctors who can advise micro and small entrepreneurs on what should be their next step to scale up.

During the last Filipina Summit, we integrated the mentoring session as an important part of the summit. We felt that with our continuous effort to promote mentorship as an essential part of an entrepreneur’s journey, it is a must to have the largest one-on-one mentoring session at the same venue. The summit was, of course, a mentoring session, but this time, we had a mentoring café which became a hub for both mentors and mentees.

Around 200 mentors from all over the country with expertise in different areas of entrepreneurship gave them time and effort to guide aspiring participants and micro and small entrepreneurs who lined up and waited for their chance to be mentored. I was told that aside from the registration area for the summit, the lines for the mentoring session was so long that they had to manage the crowd.

I asked some of our mentors to share some of their experiences at our first mentoring café.

Rex Daryanani, president of the Indian Chamber of the Philippines, shared that he had four mentees who came from different backgrounds. One was a student who wanted to start her own business. Another one was a wife of a fisherman, then another was an entrepreneur who wanted to innovate and be different, and the last was a service provider to large companies.

Rex said, “I truly realized for the first time that a one-on-one mentoring is the most enriching and fulfilling experience for a mentor. It is way better than just talking to a big crowd because one is able to tailor the advice to the specific needs of the mentee.”

Mentor couple Jorge and Jenny Wieneke also shared their experience at the mentoring session. For Jenny, it was a wonderful experience to hear stories of women hungry for mentoring and learning. Jorge, on the other hand, has always been a mentor for the past years during summits. He  is always willing to be of help to the mentees he meets even after the summit. Like the past mentees, he has become a long time mentor and a friend to all of them.

For mentor Anne Francisco of Ferino’s Bibingka, mentoring shed a light of encouragement for mentees. One of her mentees is a professional employee turned entrepreneur and has a thriving peanut butter business in Central Luzon. She said that the mentee cannot add volume to their production because of lack of funds. Anne then informed her to get loans from banks with lower interest rates for MSMEs. She also advised the mentee to properly document tax regulation and other local government permits so she can present it to the banks upon request for loans.

Majella Villaroman, one of our pioneer mentors in agriculture, met two mentees who have the resources to start an agribusiness. With their land properties, Majella introduced agri business models. She said, “It stimulated their ideas on how to start a business and explore growth opportunities.”

For mentor Maylene Navalta, the mentoring session validated the action taken by the mentees. All they needed was someone to guide them to focus on what needs to be done.

Butz Bartolome said, “Mentorship has gone a long way. There is openness in reaching out for assistance.”

All these were justifications of how mentorship is important for our micro and small entrepreneurs.

One of the participants messaged me on Facebook, “I just dropped by to say congratulations to the success of the Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit last March 6 and thank you very much for making it free for teachers like me. I’m looking forward to your next activities. I’m also done reading your book about 21 Steps (on How to Start Your Own Business) and I also want to thank you for writing such an easy to understand book. Now I am more encouraged to pursue my entrep dream. Continue to be a blessing to every Filipino. God Bless.”

Messages like this fuels our drive to continue and pursue the advocacy more. It ignites our spirit to empower more Filipinos to become enterprising and entrepreneurial. It stirs our desire to do more, and do better.

We will soon roll out more one-on-one mentoring sessions nationwide with the help of our partners.

The biggest women negosyo summit!

The biggest women negosyo summit!

More than 15,000 participants attended the 10th Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit held at the World Trade Center, Pasay City.

More than 15,000 participants attended the 10th Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit held at the World Trade Center, Pasay City.

From one mentors’ conference to the biggest mentoring session, we are proud to share the success of the 10th Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit. A record-breaking 15,000 participants attended the summit which aims to empower our Filipino women and the youth to venture into entrepreneurship. This is the biggest crowd we have had over the past 10 years of holding this special summit for Filipino women.

As early as 5:30 in the morning, we saw buses of students arriving, and soon the lines to the entrance were crazy. We saw eager participants hungry to learn from our speakers.

US Ambassador Sung Kim was among the first to arrive. He was stunned to see the large crowd inside the World Trade Center. Other ambassadors who attended include Amanda Gorely (Australia), Raszlan Bin Abdul Rashid (Malaysia), Win Naing (Myanmar), Kok Li Peng (Australia), Ly Quoc Tuan (Vietnam), John Holmes (Canada), Harald Fries (Sweden) and Igor Khovaev (Russia). All of them were amazed on what we do to empower women and the youth.

The keynote forum was star-studded with women entrepreneurs such as Tessie Sy-Coson, Vicki Belo and Natividad Cheng who all shared their stories of growth and success over the years. Lizzie Eder Zobel and Clarisse Delgado also shared their experience and how their social enterprise Teach for the Philippines aims to provide relevant and excellent education.

When our hosts Chal and Mike announced the name of Georgina Wilson and Anne Curtis, the students all shouted and cheered for the celebrity entrepreneurs. They shared how they started their own businesses out of their passion. Georgina related that for their first branch in SM Mall of Asia, she personally arranged their stocks on the shelves.

As for Anne, she appreciates her business partner and mentor Jacqe Gutierrez who has guided her through the whole process of setting up her own business, BLK Cosmetics. Micro entrepreneur Merle Paete also inspired many as she shared how she started her business with just P2,000 as capital. Now, her pili pulp oil is slowly gaining traction in the market. Even Vicki Belo revealed that she was once bullied in her younger years for her looks, that is why she made it a mission to make Filipinos beautiful.

But more than being the biggest women negosyo summit, we also had the biggest mentoring session through our first mentoring café, which had around 200 mentors who volunteered and tirelessly gave advice and business tips to the attendees in the audience. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., people lined up to get their chance to be advised by our mentors in different areas of entrepreneurship. In fact, some of the participants even brought their own products during the mentoring.

One of our mentors, Thelma Dumpit shared, “I mentored four from varied backgrounds. The first was a nurse who had inherited a lot from her father. The second was a manufacturer who wanted to expand her product lines. The third was a writer who needed help in getting published. And the fourth was from the academe, but has an existing farm she does not know how to run as a business. Quite an interesting lot!  More importantly, I realized I had a lot to share and they were all so grateful.”

The keynote forum featured Georgina Wilson, Merle Paete, Clarisse Delgado, Anne Curtis, Natividad Cheng, Tessie Sy-Coson, Lizzie Zobel and Vicki Belo. Joining them in the photo are PA Joey Concepcion, Filipina Summit co-chair Alice Eduardo and forum moderator Issa Litton.

The keynote forum featured Georgina Wilson, Merle Paete, Clarisse Delgado, Anne Curtis, Natividad Cheng, Tessie Sy-Coson, Lizzie Zobel and Vicki Belo. Joining them in the photo are PA Joey Concepcion, Filipina Summit co-chair Alice Eduardo and forum moderator Issa Litton.

Max Yap, another mentor shared, “A lot of people still wanted to come. Also some came from Bulacan and even the Visayas! They wanted more, they queued and wanted a one-on-one.”

One of the highlights of the summit was the awarding ceremony for this year’s Inspiring Filipina Awards, which was graced by no less than President Duterte himself. We awarded 20 Filipina awardees, including legacy awardees Dr. Lourdes Montinola and Helen Yuchengco-Dee, for their leadership in Far Eastern University and Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., respectively.

When President Duterte saw the attendees, he was glad to see the number of people who attended. In his speech he said, “I thank Go Negosyo for its effort in providing opportunities for the country’s MSMEs, particularly for women entrepreneurship to expand and improve their business.” He added, “I assure everyone that in line with the theme of this year’s National Women’s Month celebration, government is supportive of the initiatives to make change work for women.”

President Duterte accommodated all photo requests with the awardees, our partners, ASEAN mentors, selected micro entrepreneurs, and all 105 student representatives.

In my speech, I said, “This administration is pushing for inclusive growth. We want everybody to have better lives. We want the rich to share their wealth to enable many micro and small entrepreneurs, and for them to become one of the next awardees someday. Us, the men in the government, with our President leading the way, will provide the right environment to make this economy robust, as a favorite destination for tourist to come, and as a favorite place for businessmen to invest.”

It was a successful 10th Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit! I was amazed to see that we filled the three halls of World Trade Center. We thought the two halls would be enough for this year, but because of the interest of the people, we had to get all three the halls to accommodate everyone.

With this turnout, I look forward to more businesses managed and led by women who are passionate in what they do, persevering in achieving their goals, and fearless in facing challenges.

Thank you once again to all those who attended the summit!



PNIOT February 15 Photo 1
Today is March 1 and what a great way to celebrate International Women’s Month by recognizing women entrepreneurs who are the epitome of grace and leadership.

Together with our team led by Merly Cruz and Ginggay Hontiveros-Malvar and the 2018 Inspiring Filipina Awards judges led by Marife Zamora (Convergys Philippines), Alice Eduardo (Sta. Elena Corp.), Nanette Medved-Po (Friends of Hope), Rosalind Wee (W Group) and deputy director Kristine Balmes (Philippine Commission on Women) they evaluated and reviewed more than 100 applications for the new batch of inspiring Filipina entrepreneurs.

I am proud to share with you this year’s Inspiring Filipina awardees!

Young entrepreneur Aya Fernandez turned her school science project into an eco-friendly social enterprise. Project Lily PH manufactures Eco-Uling which are charcoals made of water hyacinth, agri-forest wastes and coconut husks. Aya leads a manpower composed of disabled people and women in her community.

Women achieve greater things when they help each other. Jeannie Javelosa of Great-Women and ECHOstore is one of our awardees under the enabler category because of her efforts to provide greater market access to micro and small entrepreneurs for their artisan products. Another enabling women entrepreneur is Mica Tan of MFT Group of Companies. At a young age, Mica is considered as one of the pioneers in venture capital investments. Currently, MFT Group has investments in various industries such as pharmaceutical, financing, real estate, lifestyle products, and investments.

Even in the technology industry, women know their game. Kathleen Yu founded Rumarocket which uses machine algorithms to organize and synthesize data for hiring and talent management of many companies.

If you think the corporate world is still led by men, think of these women intrapreneurs who are leading large corporations. Marcelina Ace Itchon is the president and CEO of Aspen Philippines. She started her career as a promo representative of a pharmaceutical company. Today, she leads Aspen Philippines, a subsidiary of Aspen Pharmacare, one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world.

Another intrapreneur awardee on our list is Flor Tarriela.  She has been in the banking and finance industry for more than 40 years. Currently, she chairs Philippine National Bank, one of the leading banks in the country. Apart from her corporate duties, Flor is also active in environment protection and agriculture. In fact, she has her own agricultural training center named Flor’s Garden.

We are also recognizing micro entrepreneurs who possess qualities of a positive and persevering entrepreneur. First on our micro category is Abdulia Austria who started her entrepreneurial journey with just P600. With that capital, she opened a small sari-sari store and engaged in direct selling. Eventually, she was able to purchase boats and open a small tourist inn named Uno Duz Tourist Inn.

Angelene Calungcaguin started baking cookies for her project “Make Peace Cookies” which is sold to relatives and friends to benefit their charity work in the orphanage and community in Payatas. In 2016, she founded The Make Peace Bakery which is a social enterprise that empowers youth through the art of baking.

From being a public school teacher, Lydia Codiñera decided to become an entrepreneur in 2009. Because of the need for clean water in her community, she formed a company called Samahang Tubig Maynilad which applied for a water meter from Maynilad. Because of her leadership, she was able to organize and facilitate the rationing of water in their area.

Edilee Omoyon of Milea Bee Farm started her business because of her son’s skin condition. She studied about organic products and soon, she started manufacturing products such as soaps, shampoos and balms made out of real honey sourced from their own bee farm.

With only P2,000, Merle Paete started her own pili processing company in 2000. She is one of the first in producing pili pulp oil with her Merle’s Pili and Native Products. Today, her annual sales is around P100,000 and has even helped her community with livelihood opportunities.

We are also recognizing women entrepreneurs in the small-medium category. First is Mary Grace Arboleda-Young, president of Cordillera Coffee. Because of her passion to introduce Cordillera’s art, culture, and coffee, she opened her own coffee business which transacts directly with farmers, cutting out the middlemen.

Olive Puentespina started experimenting with goat’s milk in 2005 which then led to the establishment of Malagos Farmhouse, leading maker of fine artisan cheeses in Davao. Today, Malagos Farmhouse cheeses are enjoyed in over 80 hotels, resorts, restaurants, and airlines in the country.

Rissa Mananquil-Trillo is a popular name in the beauty and fashion industry. In 2013, she co-founded Happy Skin which manufactures skin-friendly cosmetics fit for the Filipina beauty. In a short span of five years, it has garnered more than 50 beauty awards. Rissa was also recognized as Ernst and Young’s Woman Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017.

Warblitz Martinez is also one of this year’s awardees. Warblitz is the president of the Aqua Peace Farm which is a five-hectare aquasilviculture project with fishponds and farm-tourism facilities.

Another entrepreneur to be recognized is Armanda Battad. With her Amanda’s Marine Products, she produces dried fish products such as tinapa, and dilis. She now supplies Chowking, Goldilocks, and Cabalen.

It was in 2005 when Zarah Juan discovered the concept of reusable bags as a substitute for plastic bags. With the help of her husband, she opened Green Leaf bags which manufactures eco-friendly bags for supermarkets and department stores nationwide. Aside from this, she also provides livelihood to multiple communities such as the Bagobo women.

Edelyn Canero perfected the science of cooking nuts through her Edelyn’s Homemade Nuts. Eventually, she expanded her product line by producing savory snacks and delicacies of Pampanga. Today, she is helping 20 families in their neighborhood by asking them to peel garlic for the business.

Apart from these amazing women entrepreneurs, we are also recognizing the leadership and legacy of Dr. Lourdes Montinola and Helen Yuchengco-Dee.

Dr. Lourdes Montinola is the chairman emeritus of Far Eastern University, one of the leading universities in the country. She is also a multi-awarded and well-published author and educator and has been active in various civic, culture, and art engagements.

To complete our list of awardees, we have Helen Yuchengco-Dee who is the chairperson of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. She also chairs Malayan Insurance Company and many other related businesses.

On March 6, during the 10th Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit, these women entrepreneurs will be awarded by no less than President Duterte and they will be honored for their dedication and leadership of their respective enterprises.

Strengthening partnerships

Strengthening partnerships

PA Joey Concepcion (right) attends the 10th Biennial National Convention and 20th founding anniversary celebration of the Chinese Filipino Business Club Inc. Also in photo are Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, Filipino-Chinese General Chamber of Commerce Inc. president James Dy, Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. president Domingo Yap and presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo.

PA Joey Concepcion (right) attends the 10th Biennial National Convention and 20th founding anniversary celebration of the Chinese Filipino Business Club Inc. Also in photo are Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, Filipino-Chinese General Chamber of Commerce Inc. president James Dy, Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. president Domingo Yap and presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo.

Our President Duterte is keen on strengthening ties and partnerships with key stakeholders who can contribute to the country’s mission of development and growth. He has been in talks with various groups and representatives of different countries. I was also part of those engagements as a member of his official delegation in state visits and meetings.

Last Monday, I was invited to join the 10th Biennial National Convention and 20th founding anniversary of the Chinese Filipino Business Club Inc. (CFBCI) which is led by its president William Yap. The celebration was attended by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, China Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Sen. Cynthia Villar, and other Cabinet secretaries and government officials.

The gathering was made special with the attendance of President Duterte who thanked the Filipino-Chinese community for their “untiring toil to help the entire nation in the many catastrophes and crises faced in the past.”

A day after, my good friend and Go Negosyo advocate Rex Daryanani, and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce Inc. had their induction ceremony and oath taking of their new board of directors in Malacañang. It was actually the President who invited them and treated the whole organization to dinner after seeing their efforts in the country’s development.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce Philippines has represented the Indian business community since 1951 and has contributed to nation building ever since.

When we had the Christmas Townhall with the President in December 2016, where we launched the program Negosyo Para sa Kapayapaan sa Sulu, the Indian Chamber was one of the first to respond to the call to help Sulu in its socio-economic development. Because of Rex and their members, construction is underway on the very first Indian Chamber Kapatid Village located in the municipality of Pata, Sulu. Aside from this, they have also provided the seaweed fishermen of Sulu with fishing boats. A total of 110 fishing boats were given to various barangays.

Additionally, they have been supporting the people of Sulu through donations of toys and clothes and through medical missions conducted by the military.

The Board of Directors and members of the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce Philippines, led by Rex Daryanani, together with President Duterte, Indian Ambassador Jaideep Mazumdar and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

The Board of Directors and members of the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce Philippines, led by Rex Daryanani, together with President Duterte, Indian Ambassador Jaideep Mazumdar and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

When Marawi was under siege, Go Negosyo called for the support of Kapatid brothers to help displaced Maranao brothers and sisters. Their chamber was again first in the list of supporters and donors. They sent a 40-foot container van of relief goods and basic needs of evacuees. They also partnered with two schools in Manila to write letters for kids in Marawi. The letters were full of encouragement, hope, love and prayers, wishes that all would end well.

Indians are one of the most charitable people I know. Rex and his chamber have always been a partner of Go Negosyo for its humanitarian efforts and MSME development programs. They also have one of the largest delegation who attended our ASEAN activities last year. And for that, I am always grateful for their support.

I am honored to have been given the Padma Shri Award from the Indian Chamber. As Rex mentioned in his speech last Tuesday, the award “seeks to recognize achievements in all fields of activities or disciplines where an element of public service is involved.”

To end his speech, Rex assured the President that the Indian Chamber is a partner in nation building. President Duterte appreciates the support from the Filipino-Indian community.

President Duterte shared that when he recently went to India and met with Indian President Narendra Modi, they mutually agreed to treat their citizens equally, protect each other and govern with the same compassion.

This is the kind of relationships that we need as our country continues to progress. With the support of different nations and stakeholders, we will all achieve prosperity for all.

Empower women, empower Philippines

Empower women, empower Philippines

PLDT and Smart chief revenue officer and ePLDT president and CEO Eric Alberto, PLDT Chairman Manny Pangilinan, and presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion. Read more at

PLDT and Smart chief revenue officer and ePLDT president and CEO Eric Alberto, PLDT Chairman Manny Pangilinan, and presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion.

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent and yearly, our family attends mass. While it is a sacred day for Catholics, it is also Valentine’s Day for everyone. I think it’s the only day in a year where I see many people wearing red, carrying flowers, or buying chocolates.

I think Valentine’s Day is one of the most celebrated days for women. Maybe because women are more into romantic things. But they do deserve all the love and affection that we can give. Most especially our wives, mothers, sisters and daughters.

In expressing our appreciation and love for them, we should also empower and support them as they pursue their goals and reach their dreams. As a father, I will always give 100 percent support to my daughters as they build their careers and enterprises. I will guide them, nurture them and encourage them all throughout.

Today, most of the micro, small and medium enterprises are run by women. These enterprises are born out of their passion, their desire to step up, or their goal to help others. When women pour their hearts out to what they do, they create wonderful things.

Look at how women run different industries such as retail, fashion, beauty, technology, agriculture, manufacturing, business processing and even in male-dominated fields such as construction, electronics and automotive. One example of a passionate woman entrepreneur is Alice Eduardo, president and CEO of Sta. Elena Construction and Development Corp. Known as a woman of steel, she led her company to great heights because of her drive and hard work.

PNIOT February 15 Photo 1

Another inspiring Filipina entrepreneur is Marife Zamora who is on top of her game in the BPO industry as she leads Convergys Philippines as country chair.

This is why even at a young age, we must empower our daughters to be goal-driven, determined and confident. When we empower our women, we empower the Philippines.

Go Negosyo will recognize a new batch of empowered women entrepreneurs in this year’s Inspiring Filipina Entrepreneurs Awards. The awarding ceremony will be part of the 10th Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit.

This coming March 6, we are hosting the 10th Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit. This is our annual celebration of successful women entrepreneurs. Our goal is to reinforce the entrepreneurial spirit in them and recognize their capacities to be contributors of change and progress not just in our country, but also globally. This summit will highlight stories of inspiring women and how they have led their enterprises to its success today. This will be the biggest negosyo seminar dedicated for women!

Aside from being the biggest negosyo seminar, we will have the biggest one-on-one mentoring session on site. We have invited more than 150 mentors and experts who can share business tips and advice to the aspiring, micro and small entrepreneurs in attendance.

One of the highlights of the summit is the awarding of women entrepreneurs from different industries who have embodied the characteristics of an inspiring Filipina: passionate, positive and panalo (“can do”) attitude. These women are exemplary at what they do and how their businesses contribute to national development.

Yearly, we invite more than 50 speakers and panelists who can also share their insights, models and trends in the business. I will share with you the confirmed speakers next week. We look forward to a large crowd because yearly, we average around 7,000 participants. I am sure there will be more women attending.

For interested participants, you can still register at

* * *

We have launched another development in the MSME community. Last Monday, Feb. 12, Go Negosyo, together with PLDT and Voyager, launched an SME e-commerce enablement program. This partnership aims to “boost the e-commerce readiness of MSMEs through a program that covers all aspects needed to participate in a digital marketplace.”

Through our partnership, we are extending a stronger support to the Department of Trade and Industry which aims to equip 100,000 MSMEs with digital solutions by 2020. Together with PLDT and Voyager, we are also strengthening the 3Ms: mentorship, money and market by providing business trainings, wider market reach and access to funds and capital.

Because of the digital business solutions and platforms being provided by PLDT and Voyager, we are allowing more MSMEs to grow and scale up. Some of the business solutions and platforms include Takatack, the online marketplace of Voyager, and Lendr, which is a digital lending platform where MSMEs can apply and process various loans.

As Mitch Locsin, PLDT FVP and head of SME Business, have said during the launch, this does not only empower the entrepreneurs by being present online, this also gives them the convenience of going digital and maximizing their potential to grow by fulfilling transactions through the digital solutions.

I believe digital technology is indeed a game changer for MSMEs. It provides them the opportunity to grow online and offline. The digital space will definitely enable them to take better control of their growth and prosperity.

Digital economy is key to inclusivity

Digital economy is key to inclusivity

Joining ASEAN BAC Philippines chairman Joey Concepcion are (from left) Marcus Wallenberg, chairman of SEB, SAAB Group and Foundation Asset Management; Y. Bhg. Tan Sri Datum Wira Azman Hj. Mokhtar, managing director of Khazanah Nasional; Mikael Damberg, minister for enterprise and innovation of Sweden; and Dr. Vu Tien Loc, chairman of Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Joining ASEAN BAC Philippines chairman Joey Concepcion are (from left) Marcus Wallenberg, chairman of SEB, SAAB Group and Foundation Asset Management; Y. Bhg. Tan Sri Datum Wira Azman Hj. Mokhtar, managing director of Khazanah Nasional; Mikael Damberg, minister for enterprise and innovation of Sweden; and Dr. Vu Tien Loc, chairman of Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Every time I am invited to speak in conferences, I always make sure to share the vision that we have for our country. Part of it is sharing the realities of the Philippines’ situation today.

Just last Tuesday, I was honored to be part of the Sweden-Southeast Asia Business Summit held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The conference gathered more than 600 Swedish companies composed of small to large sized enterprises which are present in Southeast Asia. The summit provided a platform for Sweden and ASEAN countries to discuss and share relevant business information and opportunities.

During my talk, I shared how poverty, still one of biggest problems worldwide, has affected growth and progress in many countries, including the Philippines. In fact, in the 10 ASEAN-member countries, at least half of it is considered experiencing poverty.

Poverty, unless solved, creates a lot of complications. In our country, admittedly, our drug problem is so massive that it has hampered a lot of civilians. Many families have been destroyed because of drug addiction. And until now, it is still an ongoing process for our government to reduce, and hopefully, totally eliminate drug abuse.

Poverty, if not addressed, creates insurgencies. In some areas of the Philippines, insurgencies are still present like what recently happened in Marawi. Although very small, it poses a great threat moving forward.

As we look around the world today, poverty causes all of these issues. But poverty is a two-pronged sword. For some it is a problem, but for others, it is the greatest motivator to succeed in life. It is what pushes a person to strive and do his best.

Look at China, once upon a time, they were a struggling economy, but today, they are one of the greatest economies. The Philippines is somehow headed to that direction. Our poverty, in fact, has led to more entrepreneurs.

Today, as I serve the government by helping President Duterte, I believe that the key to a prosperous country is inclusivity.

One of our strengths is our labor sector. We are one of the largest exporters of people in the world. Additionally, next to India, we are the largest in the BPO industry. Poverty motivated them to go into these sectors and strive for a better life. The sacrifices of our OFWs have provided their families and their children with a better chance to move up in life. Because like China, we can use our labor force as a competitive advantage and eventually, even with poverty, our nation can change.

Although we had a fantastic economy during the previous administration, many Filipinos believe that they were not part of the growing economy. So when President Duterte run for the presidency, many people from the bottom of the pyramid looked up to him as someone who would address their concerns and help them scale up. Yes, he is unique. He is the strong handed leader that we need at this time. And since we are more than 100 million already, we need a stronger leadership that will implement discipline.

This is why I strongly promote prosperity for all. If we are to go through the numbers, only 0.4 percent of the business community, composed of large businesses control the country. In fact, to some extent, conglomerates control the destiny of 99.6 percent of MSMEs. Brick and mortar businesses have to pass through supply chains, malls and shopping centers. And we dictate who should be in their market and who should not be. That is the kind of control that we, big businesses have.

But that landscape is changing. Today, with the onset of the digital economy, it liberated MSMEs in this kind of traditional set-up. Through the 3Ms (Money, Market and Mentorship) which I have been advocating, it provides a formula on how we can help MSMEs. Of course, mentorship provides a pathway for MSMEs to be successful. To complete their road to success, it must be coupled with the access to market and money.

We have digital marketplaces such as Lazada, Shopee, Amazon and Alibaba, which allows MSMEs to bypass traditional market and reach a wider market. Digital payment solutions and funding are also being developed for MSMEs.

Digital economy has paved the way for everyone, most especially MSMEs, to play with large corporations. It is the game changer which gives MSMEs a greater chance to succeed. Rich economies, large companies, and privileged people must embrace inclusivity and help those who are at the bottom of the pyramid.

With these kinds of collaboration, we are creating better relationships through trust. And when trust is evident, we are on our way to a greater community.