Choosing the Right Leaders

Candidates: Bong Go, Sonny Angara, Cynthia Villar, Grace Poe and Bam Aquino.

It is election season once again and many of the senatorial candidates are visiting different cities and provinces to do their campaign runs. While there are many platforms and projects, our entrepreneurs would want to hear their stands on micro, small, and medium enterprise development, youth and women empowerment, and other areas that would support the booming growth of the business environment in the country.
Many of the senate candidates have long been part of the Go Negosyo advocacy.

Former special assistant to the president Bong Go is a proud advocate of entrepreneurship. In our recent Mentor Me On Wheels last January, he shared, “Napakalaking tulong itong programang ito (Mentor Me On Wheels) ni PA Joey Concepcion para sa mga maliliit na negosyo at negosyante. Mahalaga para sa akin ang kabuhayan ng ating mga kababayan lalo na ang mga micro, small at medium enterprises. Sinusuportahan ko ang mga kababayan natin na nagnanais na magtayo ng negosyo upang mai-angat ang sarili at ang pamilya. I am really honored to speak before you and to be invited here at Mentor Me. Asahan ninyo na patuloy nating susuportahan ang programa ng Go Negosyo. Papalawigin natin ang pagkakaroon ng libreng seminar at training gaya ng adbokasiya ng Go Negosyo.”

Aside from this, Go supports the programs of my office as presidential adviser for entrepreneurship by treating the programs as priority in President Duterte’s agenda which supports the mission of inclusive growth in the country. President Duterte has attended many entrepreneurship-related engagements that support the growth of entrepreneurs in the country. These program are also  being implemented by the Department of Trade and Industry led by Sec. Ramon Lopez.

While the TRAIN Law is seen as an additional burden to many, Sen. Sonny Angara shared that it is actually pro-small enterprises because it helps enterprises grow. In his speech during the Mentor Me On Wheels, he said, “Under the TRAIN Law, if you are making 250,000 net income, you don’t have to pay any taxes kaya pro-small enterprises po siya. Then if you are making gross sales or earnings a year above P250,000 and below P3 million, you have a choice under the TRAIN Law. Either you can pay a flat tax of a percent based on your gross or you can pay the personal income tax raised where they deduct your business operation gross and expenses.” Angara is also a staunch supporter of Go Negosyo.

Sen.  Cynthia Villar and Grace Poe both supported our women empowerment and entrepreneurship programs. They have been invited to several Go Negosyo Summits in which they have inspired and empowered the MSMEs. Sen. Villar also support the agri-entrepreneurs in the agriculture sector. She authored the Farm Tourism Development law which promotes farm tourism as a viable new venture for agriculture.

Senator Grace Poe, on the other hand, joined us recently for the Youth Entrepreneurship Summit. She shared that she supports digitalization through the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act, which she sponsored, which will help our entrepreneurs reach a wider market and access to money platforms and online mentorship. She said during the program, “Entrepreneurs can work anywhere for as long as there is a wifi signal, and connectivity is good and fast. We are really pushing for this because it is vital for us to be able to compete kahit na ang mga negosyo ninyo na naka-base halimbawa sa Tuguegarao, ay pwede na ring maging tanyag kahit saan sa Pilipinas o sa buong mundo kung maganda ang connection ninyo.”

Of course, we also have Sen.Bam Aquino who was a social entrepreneur himself prior to becoming a public servant. He authored the Go Negosyo Law which paved the way for better support for MSMEs in the country. This also helped establish more than 1,000 Negosyo Centers nationwide, which supports aspiring and existing entrepreneurs. Bam also supported entrepreneurs through his Microfinance Institute Act and also the Youth Entrepreneurship Act. But aside from this legislative support to our entrepreneurs, his recent achievement is dedicated to many students. The Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Law made education free to many of our youth today.

In his speech in one of our mentoring programs, Sen. Aquino shared, “We will continue  to support Go Negosyo and DTI, our Mentoring on Wheels, and we are here to make sure na lahat ng mga kailangan ng MSME’s  makukuha po ng ating entrepreneurs.”These are just some of the candidates who support MSME development. While we do not campaign for anyone, we value the support that they extend to the advocacy. We do need a partner in the government as we continue to help our micro and small entrepreneurs. May these programs be helpful as you decide who to vote for this coming elections.


The YES Attitude

More than 15,000 participants joined the Youth Entrepreneurship Summit 2019 held last March 8, 2019 at the World Trade Center and simulcast in 10 schools and universities nationwide.

Our Youth Entrepreneurship Summit 2019 was a huge success! With more than 15,000 participants who joined us in World Trade Center, Pasay City and the simulcasts done in 10 schools and universities, the summit provided valuable insights on digitalization for both students and entrepreneurs.

During the summit, I highlighted the value of having a Yes attitude. The Yes attitude is a positive attitude that must be possessed by anyone, whether you are a student, a part of the working group, or an entrepreneur. A positive attitude in life is what propels many people to become successful.

Such an attitude is what people like Anthony Tan, CEO and co-founder of Grab, and many of our speakers in the summit possessed which led them in creating efficient digital businesses. Despite the challenges in the industry or market, or the struggles in developing the business itself, when one has a winning Yes attitude, he can achieve success. I believe that problems will always be part of our lives, but it is how we look at problems and turn them into opportunities.

Many entrepreneurs look for problems because it is where business models will emanate from. And hopefully many of our youth will learn, be inspired, and in the future, be like our successful entrepreneurs.

I appreciate how Anthony Tan recalled how Grab, the leading ride-hailing application, started. In fact, Grab or originally GrabTaxi initially started here in Manila. Together with Brian Cu, president of Grab Philippines, he would visit areas where taxi drivers would often eat or take breaks just to invite them to be part of Grab. Many were hesitant then, but because of the advantages that they offer, many drivers joined their group.

Fireside chat between Grab CEO and Co-founder Anthony Tan and Issa Litton.

He highlighted that the problem they wanted to solve was the safety of women in taxis here. The goal of Grab is to provide convenient, affordable, and safe rides for both riders and drivers. From then on, Grab continued to improve their services and expand their offers.

Grab is now in 336 cities and has helped uplift lives of many riders who are also micro-entrepreneurs! Tan said that helping the driver not only provided sustainable income, but also boosted their morale and their pride. “It’s not about giving you fish, but giving you the best fishing rod so you can go out and catch fish.

Grab did not stop there. They are also into delivering food through GrabFood, and creating a financial inclusive society through GrabPay. This is their way of focusing on the problem and creating a solution for it.

He encouraged the students and start-ups to apply for their Grab Ventures Velocity program which is an incubation program that goes beyond mentoring as they will also invest in startups. Through the creation of the program, it will allow more startups to be exposed to the wide reach of the Grab platform. Anthony highlighted the important qualifications: first, they have to make lives better, and second, it must create social impact.

In closing, Anthony shared, “if you can create economic wealth and create social impact at the same time while doing what you absolutely love, then there’s no better deal out there. There’s no better thing but to invest all in … and execute like hell.”

These were just some of the nuggets of wisdom from the Youth Entrepreneurship Summit. There were more valuable insights from the different digital platforms and technology players during the summit.

For us who are in their 50s or 60s, we may have to learn more about the digital world, but many of our youth today who are born in this digital era can easily take full advantage of its benefits. Digital is indeed a great equalizer which can help many scale up their products and services. I advise all of Yes, it is possible to be successful in life. Never think that you do not have the chance. That is why we in Go Negosyo are creating programs anchored on 3Ms: Mentorship, money and market in order to equip everyone with knowledge, skills, and most importantly with the positive mindset and attitude towards entrepreneurship.


Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir meets RP business leaders

ASEAN Business Advisory Council Philippines and business leaders met with Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad (seated left) and his selected economic officials last March 7, 2019. In photo: (seated right) ASEAN BAC Philippines Chairman Joey Concepcion. (Standing L-R) Gil Gonzales, Executive Director of ASEAN Business Advisory Council; Henry Lim Bon Liong, President and CEO of SL Agritech Corporation; Daniel Zuellig, Managing Director of F.E. Zuellig Inc.; Alice Eduardo, President and CEO of Sta. Elena Construction and Development Corporation; Dennis Uy, Chairman and CEO of Udenna Corporation; Manny Villar, Chairman of Vista Land Corporation; Tessie Sy-Coson, Vice Chair of SM Investments Corporation; William Belo, CEO and Founder of Wilcon Depot; Josephine Gotianun-Yap, President and CEO of Filinvest Land Inc.; Rosalind Wee, Co-founder and Vice Chairman of W Group; Sandy Prieto-Romualdez, President and CEO of Philippine Daily Inquirer; Ginggay Hontiveros-Malvar, Adviser on Agripreneurship of Go Negosyo; and Josephine Romero, Senior Adviser to the ASEAN Business Advisory Council Philippines Chairman.

Last week, the ASEAN Business Advisory Council Philippines together with some business leaders had the privilege of meeting Malaysia’s Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad. This is the third time that I saw him, following his attendance of the ASEAN Business Awards in Singapore and our meeting in Malaysia led by Tan Sri Dr. Munir Mohamad Majid. PM Mahathir is in the country for an official visit upon the invitation of President Rodrigo Duterte to discuss political, economic and social cooperation between Malaysia and Philippines.

Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad with ASEAN Business Advisory Council Philippines Chairman Joey Concepcion during a bilateral meeting last March 7, 2019. The two first met in Malaysia during the ASEAN Business Awards celebration last year in Singapore. The meeting was also attended by Prime Minister’s selected economic officials and Philippine business leaders.

I was joined by my ASEAN BAC co-member Tessie Sy-Coson together with Manny Villar, chairman of Vista Land Corporation; Henry Lim Bon Liong, president and CEO of SL Agritech Corporation; Daniel Zuellig, managing director of F.E. Zuellig Inc.; Alice Eduardo, president and CEO of Sta. Elena Construction and Development Corporation; Josephine Gotianun-Yap, president and CEO of Filinvest Land; Dennis Uy, chairman and CEO of Udenna Corporation; William Belo, CEO and founder of Wilcon Depot; Rosalind Wee, co-founder and vice chairman of W Group; Gil Gonzales, executive director of ASEAN Business Advisory Council; Ginggay Hontiveros-Malvar, adviser on agripreneurship of Go Negosyo; and Josephine Romero, senior adviser to the ASEAN Business Advisory Council Philippines chairman.

Malaysian Prime Minister met with ASEAN Business Advisory Council Philippines led by its Chairman and Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion and ASEAN BAC Philippines Member and Vice Chair of SM Investments Corporation Tessie Sy-Coson. Other business leaders in the photo are Dennis Uy, Josephine Gotianun-Yap, William Belo, Manny Villar, Alice Eduardo, and Daniel Zuellig.


Henry Lim Bon Liong, President and CEO of SL Agritech Corporation, Tessie Sy-Coson, Vice Chair of SM Investments Corporation and ASEAN BAC PH Chair Joey Concepcion.

Selected members of Malaysia’s economic team also joined the bilateral meeting, which revolved around strengthening the economic relations of Malaysia and Philippines through infrastructure investments, and exchange of goods and services between the two countries.

ASEAN BAC Philippines led the meeting with Malaysia Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad.

I thanked Prime Minister Mahathir for always giving time to meet and support the business sector. I also took the chance to express our appreciation for being instrumental in the peace process.

Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad with ASEAN Business Advisory Council Philippines Chairman Joey Concepcion during a meeting last March 7, 2019.

The Real Revolution

(From Left) Education Undersecretary Lorna Dig-Dino, National Historical Commission of the Philippines and EDSA People Power Commission Chairman Rene Escalante, EDSA People Power Commission Vice Chairman and Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion, and former Senator Heherson Alvarez.

Three years ago, I was asked to be the vice chair of the EDSA People Power Commission. I continue to hold the position since I felt that the generation who experienced the struggle and the triumph was slowly disappearing and that this young generation could no longer relate. This celebration continues to be a national holiday, but it will slowly lose its relevance unless people see the transformation.

Let me share this with you:

For the last 33 years, we’ve been celebrating People Power Revolution. The year 1986 was basically one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever felt in my life. Many of those with us on the stage today come from different generations. Representing my generation, I was then 27 years old back then, a young kid, out of school, just starting work. But the first two years prior to the People Power Revolution basically brought out the courage in many of us to rise up and fight for our democracy and our freedom.

Today, we see a different type of revolution, the transformation from the People Power Revolution that we saw in 1986 is moving forward to a revolution that is creating greater inclusivity for many Filipino people.

Our President Duterte, his pledge to the Filipino people when he was elected was to bring about greater inclusive growth making every Filipino be part of our growing country. What the People Power Revolution thought us was the values that are very important in taking us to where we are today.

The commemoration of the 33rd anniversary of the People Power Revolution was held in the People Power Monument in Quezon City.

The challenge of which the generation that has come after us do not seem to have the same impact and feeling that our generation went through. It is our duty to make them realize that real democracy is essential in bringing the country to greater heights. But this democracy has to be translated, in my mind, into real economic democracy where the country is not only controlled by the rich, but eventually many of those at the bottom of the pyramid moving to the middle class eventually aspiring to become wealthy. Filipinos were never destined for poverty, I’ve always said that the transformation from the fight of democracy has to turn into a real inclusive economy. The President last week signed and swore in about 80 Muslims and government officials to the transitional committee of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

This is history, this is the next revolution that’s being transformed into what was a military revolution now an economic revolution in Mindanao. This is essential for us to see happened. In this lifetime, for the last 45 years Mindanao was ravaged, with a lot of unrest and military warfare. Finally, we see the chance of peace happening. The private sector and the government in its full force would come together in seeing that this dream of President Duterte is happening in Mindanao. Then we can say that the People Power Revolution in 1986 has really transformed into a real peaceful revolution for the entire country, not just for the Filipino people here in Metro Manila, but also for the rest of the Philippine islands.

And with God’s power, I’m sure that the spirit of EDSA will continue to live forever. Maraming Salamat!


Agripreneurship or Technopreneurship

Last week, my column entitled “Making the Right Decision” discussed whether the rice tariffication bill should be signed into law or vetoed. The President signed the bill and, for me, it was the right decision. The signing was supported by the economic team and even Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol whose concern was the period of adjustment which should be managed as it will take time to deploy the inbred and hybrid rice – both proven to yield better productivity per hectare, ranging from eight to 10 tons subject to other factors.

Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia also told me that the government would advance the money for the farmers to improve their level of competitiveness, thereby, shortening the gestation period. Farmers will have to go through the learning curve, but this is the way to go – capacitating competitive rice farmers and providing better products for the consumers.

The country’s largest hybrid rice producer, Henry Lim Bon Liong, says the bill would force farmers to use the right seeds for improved productivity. This is how we ought to help our farmers move forward as entrepreneurs – by enabling them to compete. This is the long-term solution to take.

With the ratification, the sugar industry should next expect changes. The only problem is the current five percent-tariff protection for sugar which is not enough and can wipe out the entire sector. I believe the next definitive step here is to push for corporate farming. Agri-corporations like Universal Robina Corp. of the Gokongweis and Luisita, which is now owned and managed by Martin Lorenzo and Nando Conjuangco, are doing very well by updating the mills and leasing the land to farmers, or partnering with the farmers.

Farmer cooperatives also serve as a solution, but there might eventually be too much democracy and consensus and this can lead to the failure of quite a number of cooperatives. My team and a group of successful agri-preneurs are devoting time and effort to help our farmers.

We need to reverse the 70 percent drop in enrolment in agriculture degree programs and one way to do this is by showing upcoming graduates that money and success both await them in agriculture.

We can also strengthen the agriculture sector by equipping farmers with digital tools and platforms that can bolster their productivity – and profitability, too. Currently, we are enjoying the benefits of digital technologies behind the major developments we see in various industries. We now have platforms for logistics, food delivery, emergency medical support, transportation and many more. While some have successfully adapted to the digital wave, a lot more people are yet to be introduced to current developments, need to be educated on how to optimize them, and guided through the novelty of it all.

Go Negosyo, in partnership with the US Embassy, will host the Youth Entrepreneurship Summit on March 8 at the World Trade Center, Pasay City.

Go Negosyo in partnership with the US Embassy will be hosting the Youth Entrepreneurship Summit on March 8, 2019 at the World Trade Center, Pasay City.

On March 8, we will host the biggest Youth Entrepreneurship Summit in partnership with the US Embassy. The summit aims to inspire the youth through the presentation of real-life business stories and milestones of many tech-preneurs, which relate how the industry players capitalized on digital transformation to jump-start their business ventures. We will present top of the line speakers to enlighten the youth on the grand merits of innovation and digitalization.

Our theme, “Angat Lahat sa Digital: Achieving Inclusive Growth through Digital Transformation,” is specifically curated to highlight that digitalization is pro-poor and that it would bring inclusive growth across all sectors.

We have invited over 30 digital players and advocates who will share how their respective platforms revolutionized the traditional processes and systems in their industries. We will also be joined by US Ambassador Sung Kim and Anthony Tan, CEO and co-founder of Grab. We are also launching our campaign Angat Lahat sa Digital, which is supported by a group of digital players from the private sector who are pushing for the digitalization of MSMEs towards prosperity.

We are lucky to have technology and enjoy all its benefits. It has indeed helped more Filipinos with the opportunity to improve their lives and become self-earning entrepreneurs.

I am inviting everyone to be part of our Youth Entrepreneurship Summit. Interested participants can register at and learn more how digital transformation can provide solutions to many of our problems.

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On Feb. 28, we will conduct the 15th roll out for our Go Negosyo Mentor Me On Wheels (MMOW), our free one-on-one mentoring session. After successfully mentoring more than 4,000 mentees last 2018, our MMOW will be stronger this year as it reaches more cities and municipalities nationwide. For this roll-out, we have partnered with Megaworld, led by Kevin Tan, who will host us in one of the busiest malls in Manila – the Lucky Chinatown in Binondo. We have invited a roster of Filipino-Chinese entrepreneurs to mentor aspiring and existing micro, small and medium entrepreneurs.

Making The Right Choice

PA Joey Concepcion hosted a dinner for Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol together with agri entrepreneurs and stakeholders last night. Discussion revolved on the current issues in Philippine agriculture on various commodities such as rice and sugar, programs with big brothers to support farmers, and other concerns. Attendees include: Ginggay Hontiveros – Malvar (Go Negosyo), Winston Uy (Universal Leaf), Edwin Chen (Bounty Fresh), Henry Lim Bon Liong (SL Agritech), Simon Bakker (Kenner Foods), William Dar (Prasad/Inang Lupa), Toto Barcelona (Harbest), Rene Cabati (Universal Robina), Bobby Amores (Philfoodex), Dante Delima (ATISCO), and Cherrie Atilano (AGREA).

Last Tuesday, I hosted our annual gathering with Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol together with the big brothers in agriculture who are in the sectors of rice, cacao, fruits and vegetables, sugar, and livestock among others. We discussed efforts from the government and the private sector and how we can push for poverty alleviation for our farmers through agripreneurship since majority come from this sector.

On a side note, in a separate meeting I had with Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairman Popoy de Vera, he shared that the number of students enrolled in agriculture courses has significantly dropped by as much as 70 percent. This shows that many young Filipinos does not want to enter the agriculture sector. I don’t blame them as I, too, find agri businesses difficult to handle. When my grandfather, Salvador Araneta, was the secretary of agriculture, we were still establishing our company RFM which was into feedmilling and poultry. When I joined the company, I shifted from agribusiness to branded business. What discouraged me in pursuing agribusiness was the uncontrollable factors such as weather, volatility of commodities, disease in livestock and importation of chicken, and many other variables.

Going back, many successful agripreneurs are passionate, focused and totally hands-on in their businesses – the likes of Winston Uy, who is the biggest tobacco producer, Henry Lim Bon Liong who is the leader in hybrid rice, or Tennyson Chen, who is one of the largest poultry integrators in the country. Yes, there is money to be made in agriculture for those who have these characteristics.

One of the biggest issue now is the rice tariffication bill which will allow rice importation. Is it good for the country and our farmers? With the approval of the bill, there will be more competition as rice from other countries will come into the Philippines. Competition is good because it will encourage the sector to be more productive, forcing them to adapt modern equipment, and use hybrid or inbred seeds. The tariff, which will be collected shall be used to support the farmers and equip them to be more competitive. However, the implementation shall take time as many of the farmers work through cooperatives unlike big corporations which mobilize fast as the decision-making is centralized to the owner of the company. So during the transition period, we need safeguards to protect the pendulum from swinging to the extremes that will create an oversupply situation pushing down rice prices.

William Dar, former agriculture secretary, also shared that without the right safety measures, when majority of the rice supply will come from other countries, the local rice industry will suffer. He also shared that some studies show that around 30 to 40 percent of rice farmers would likely get out of the rice industry because of this liberalization. So it is important to have safety nets in implementing the bill so as not to create additional burden to our rice farmers.

In short, I am for the tariffication of rice with all the proper safeguards in place, including the use of funds that would enable our farmers to be better farm-entrepreneurs. This is the way forward that will eventually move them out of poverty. It is not going to be easy. Some might even fail, but again with passion, perseverance and hard work, one will become successful.

Meanwhile, the sugar industry should not be exempted from going through this same process that the rice sector is going through. It will not be fair, as clearly, imported sugar is much lower than locally produced. Something must be done so that our sugar farmers and millers will be competitive.

The Gokongwei Group, as explained by their sugar and renewables general manager Rene Cabati, shared that they have invested in equipment and diversified into other products.

Competition is important to keep us in shape. I give it to our economic team that they are on the right track in ensuring that our industries remain competitive. I also credit Sec. Manny Piñol for his passion in helping our farmers. He has one of the difficult jobs balancing the interest of the consumers and the farmers.

I believe that with the government and private sector collaborating well to improve the sector, we can help majority of our people rise above poverty. The big brothers are willing to support the farmers and help them be globally competitive. Hopefully, in the next coming years, we can have a stronger agricultural sector which can compete with countries like Thailand or Vietnam.