Kapatid Mentor Me Program Works!

The 2018 Citi Microentrepreneurship Awardees together with Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc. Chair Fr. Jose Victor Lobrigo, Bangko Sental ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier, Citi Philippines CEO Aftab Ahmed, Marixi Prieto and PA Joey Concepcion.

I was surprised to find out that four out of nine awardees of the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards are graduates of the Kapatid Mentor ME (KMME) Program, which is the mentoring sessions that we are doing with the Department of Trade and Industry. The microentrepreneurs are part of more than 4,000 graduates of the KMME Program. Considering that almost half of the awardees are Kapatid mentees, it is a testament that the mentorship program work.

This year’s awardees include Estrella Balnao and Romeo Ponio who got a special award in agri micro-business; Jessette Oquendo  for community leadership; Marisa Ganding for startup micro-business; Mary Grace Bayalas for the youth microentrepreneur of the year; regional awardees were Maria Elena Estadola, Rosario Amoroto and Arnold Viado; and the national awardee, Erwin Ramos for the Citi Microentrepreneur of the Year. Balnao, Oquendo, Estadola, and Amoroto were part of the KMME Program.

All of the awardees have their share of success stories that put them under the spotlight this year. The grand winner, Erwin Ramos, owner of Erwin and Lanie’s Fishball, discovered a breakthrough in the year 2011 when he eventually developed bidbid fish into various products. Ironically, bibid is considered as a pest for bangus growers, but through his innovation, he was able to diversify all of his products.

Another awardee is KMME graduate Maria Elena Estolada, owner of New Life Crafts – Infinito. She made use of the abundance of coconut twigs in her hometown in Sorsogon and crafted it into good business with an initial loan of P5,000 from People’s Alternative Livelihood Microfinance Foundation of Sorsogon Inc. Elena owes her success to market research, product innovation, and effective marketing strategies.

Rosario Amoroto, who was part of the KMME in Eastern Samar, is the owner of the Island’s Best Food which is into calamansi processing. With her advocacy to help her community, she thought of ways on how to help farmers in her hometown in Homonhon Islands who were struggling with an oversupply of calamansi during harvest season. Luckily, she underwent training facilitated by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). Afterwards, Rosario took an interest in making ready-to-drink calamansi juice. In 2013, Rosario became a member of CARD Bank Inc. and was granted a loan of P3,000.

After the awarding, I talked to the winners and invited them over to my house for an appreciation dinner together with some of our mentors, partners, and advocates. I am proud to say that four out of the nine Citi awardees came from our KMME Program.

Sec. Ramon Lopez also commended them. “They’ve been very inspiring and became role models to fellow microentrepreneurs and to us also. We’re happy to say that many of them were graduates of Kapatid Mentor Me, our free seminar that we jointly do with Go Negosyo which we do nationwide over several provinces. Many of them have borrowed from Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso.”

The Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards is organized by Citi Philippines in partnership with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Citi Foundation, and Microfinance Council of the Philippines Inc. (MCPI) recognizes outstanding microentrepreneurs across the Philippines.

I was part of the National Selection Committee together with Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Nestor Espenilla and Citi Philippines country chair Aftab Ahmed who served as co-chairpersons, and committee members such as SM Investments Corp. vice chair Teresita Sy-Coson; Ayala Corp. president Fernando Zobel de Ayala; GMA Network Inc. chairman and CEO Felipe Gozon; Philippine Daily Inquirer former chairperson Marixi Rufino-Prieto; Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez; SPARK! Philippines trustee Imelda Nicolas; Voyager Innovations Inc. president Orlando Vea; National MSME Development Council – Mindanao Private sector representative Mary Ann Montemayor; and University of the Philippines Diliman chancellor Dr. Michael Tan.

Together with the government and private sector partners, we are working hard to provide development programs for our MSMEs. During our recent Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Council meeting led by Sec. Mon, we had a comprehensive review and report on the accomplishments, strategic goals and plans for the MSMED Plan 2017-2022 with the government and private sector council members.

During the session, future plans for MSME development with access to finance, technology and market were discussed. I gladly relayed private sector initiatives such as the Mentor ME E-Learning together with Singapore Polytechnic and the Youth Entrepreneurship Summit lined up next year.

It will be an exciting year ahead for all our micro entrepreneurs.

Some of the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awardees who are also Kapatid Mentor Me mentees together with PA Joey Concepcion and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

The Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise Development Council after their meeting last Dec. 11.

Sharing blessings and success

The Outstanding Filipino Awardees 2018 include presidential adviser for entrepre- neurship Joey Concepcion, Fr. Benigno P. Beltran, SVD for Humanitarian service, Raul V. del Mar for public service and Hilly Ann Maria Fernandez-Roa Quiaoit.

To be recognized as one of the Outstanding Filipinos is truly an honor. Last night, I was given this recognition by the JCI Senate Philippines. Other awardees include Fr. Ben Beltran, Rep. Raul del Mar and Dr. Hilly Ann Roa-Quiaoit. I share this recognition with the Go Negosyo community.

“To all our kapatids, thank you very much. This is an award for all of us including our partners in the government most especially our President Duterte who made micro, small, and medium enterprises development a top priority. Thank you also to the Department of Trade and Industry led by Sec. Ramon Lopez; Department of Agriculture led by Sec. Manny Piñol; former special assistant to the president Bong Go; our legislators Sen. Bam Aquino (who started the Go Negosyo law during the previous administration which led to the establishment of 1000 Negosyo Centers nationwide), and Senators Migz Zubiri, Sonny Angara, Grace Poe, and Cynthia Villar for the legislative support for our MSMEs. I also would like to thank the DTI team from its undersecretaries to regional and provincial directors who are under Sec. Mon’s leadership. Our micro, small, and medium enterprises are indeed a priority now.

Thank you also to our sponsors, conglomerates and Go Negosyo big brothers who believe that inclusivity in the economy is the right path to take. And most especially to more than 800 Go Negosyo mentors who continue to inspire and impart knowledge to our mentees. All of you are great partners in the advocacy. Thank you for helping our micro and small entrepreneurs.

I believe that this is our way of putting more meaning into our lives and sharing the blessings and success that we have been receiving.”

Speaking of sharing our blessings, this Christmas season, we welcome back thousands of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who have all sacrificed for their loved ones here in the Philippines. It is during this season that all of them who have worked for months and years fly back to spend time with their families. While some of them are still bound by contract their employers abroad and will be back after some weeks, many of them are considering staying here in the country and starting a business for their family.

As this year comes to a close, our free mentorship also had its last roll out this year in SM Mall of Asia last Monday, Dec. 3 — the same venue of the first launch of the Mentor Me On Wheels (MMOW).

The fulfillment that we get from helping our MSMEs is truly rewarding. This, I think is the best Christmas gift we can give to our OFWs and seafarers for the sacrifices they are doing not just for their families, but also for the country. Indeed, they are worthy to be called our “modern day heroes.”

I also appreciate our entrep-mentors, including Sec. Ramon Lopez, Sen. Cynthia Villar, and Amb. Carlos Salinas who took time despite their busy schedules to shares ideas and knowledge to our mentees. The experiences we had in our own entrepreneurship journey is something we can share so that they too can learn from our mistakes and triumphs.

Pruds Garcia, one of Go Negosyo’s trustees and CEO of Mekeni Corp. who is also a former OFW, said “The reason why I joined Go Negosyo, aside from being invited by PA Concepcion was to inspire our OFWs. Working outside (the country) is not permanent, but it is just a process, so before they go home they have to prepare their family so that going back to the Philippines will easy. There is a challenge for them in terms of entrepreneurship, that is why this free mentorship is really a starting point. An event in which one can meet mentors who share their success and achievements in business.”

Among the hundreds of participants during the mentoring session was Felipe Preciado Jr., a 39-year-old entrepreneur and owner of ACE Electrical Trading and Services which was established just six months ago. He pushed his luck and traveled from Tagbilaran, Bohol to Pasay City to be mentored. Opportunely, he was mentored by Alice Eduardo, president & CEO of Sta. Elena Construction and Development Corp.

As Felipe looked back on his starting months as an entrepreneur, he shared that the business did not go well at first. He had a hard time finding suppliers. As luck would have it, after his free mentoring session with Alice, he was invited by Alice to meet with the company’s electrical engineers and guide him with regard to his concerns in supply management. His passion fuels his drive to become a successful entrepreneur in the future.

I genuinely believe in what Sen. Cynthia Villar said during the MMOW, “Hanap-buhay at negosyo, ‘yan ang kailangan ng ating mga kababayan upang makaahon sa kahirapan at upang maging tuluy-tuloy ang pagsulong ng ating bansa. ‘Wag mamaliitin ang maliit na negosyo. Malaki ang aking tiwala na ang small and micro industry ang magdadala ng progreso sa ating bansa.”

Through our mentorship advocacy, we have come across many people who have been a source of inspiration. We have cross paths with many of our kapatids who championed their respective industry. They are truly an inspiration to me and many people. The story of one of our mentors, Marx Melencio who was robbed of his sight 15 years ago, but is determined to help blind people see through an artificial intelligence technology is truly inspirational. Most people who are perfectly healthy, with complete senses and abilities have so much fear and pessimism, but for Marx, he is determined to contribute to their progress.

I met Marx during the early years of Go Negosyo during the 1st Technopreneurship Summit. Despite being visually impaired, he still continued his entrepreneurship journey by founding his own company, Grayscale Business Consultancy and Management Services which offers multimedia marketing and tele-sales services for public and private organizations worldwide. They also have initiatives on research and development for wearable products with artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning technologies for persons with disabilities.

I am glad that he joined us during the MMOW last Monday. I can say that if Marx can do it, I bet that many people can also be successful.

Prosperity and happiness

PA Joey Concepcion was invited to an intimate dinner with Singapore Deputy Prime Minister and coordinating minister for economic and social policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam hosted by Singapore Ambassador to the Philippines Kok Li Peng. Also present at the dinner were former Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco, Nestor Tan, Justo Ortiz, Josephine Gotianun-Yap, and the entourage of the deputy prime minister.

I arrived yesterday from Malaysia after attending the ASEAN-India Business Summit which was chaired by fellow ASEAN Business Advisory Council member Dato Ramesh Kodammal.

After receiving the Padma Shri award, one of the most prestigious award of the Republic of India last April, I was requested to speak about entrepreneurship connectivity between ASEAN and India.

My talk focused on the overall objective of what the countries in the world are trying to do, which is to achieve a level of prosperity in life through wealth and genuine happiness for its citizens. When one has these two components, I can say that a person is fulfilled.

While our spiritual and life mentors guide us to the path of happiness and fulfillment, the world’s governments and organizations are trying to bring about economic prosperity through the establishment of free and fair trade. Whether it’s the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), or Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), or the World Economic Forum, these entities are challenged if the basic element of trust and good relationship do not exist.

This is where mentorship and the sharing of knowledge and best practices are important, which is why we have so many summits and mentoring sessions focused on helping our micro, small and medium enterprises most especially now that we are entering the fourth industrial revolution (IR).

Because of this fourth major industrial era, we are creating a new breed of entrepreneurs who are changing the business landscape through digitalization, thus creating greater access to money and market. Yes, this is a great disruption to the brick and mortar business models which will cause them to modify or adapt to the online platform. But more than being a disruption, the 4th Industrial Revolution creates better and more sustainable access to mentorship, money, and market through different online platforms.

The recent business summit I attended is part of the many initiatives of hundreds of organizations that are pushing for greater connectivity to money and market with prosperity for all as its objective. There will be more discussions and conferences focused on introducing the digital world to more people as we all thrive to be part of this new era.

China President Xi Jinping and PA Joey Concepcion during the state dinner.

Last week, I was invited by Singapore Amb. Kok Li Peng to meet Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the deputy prime minister of Singapore. Singapore is the leader in ASEAN when it comes to digital connectivity. Just recently, they had the largest fintech event which was attended by around 50,000 participants. DPM Tharman clearly understands the 4th IR and knows what Singapore has to do. Leadership is key to getting the country prepared for such revolution. Although Singapore is not a big country with more than five million citizens only, it is prepared for the digital shift. It has no large market, but since they are now in the digital space, they are reaching a greater market which is the whole world. Singapore plans to be an enabler in connectivity globally.

Similarly, Israel, with almost the same land size and population as Singapore, is also a global leader in digitalization. They have banked on education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). It  is a must for the Philippines to step up its play and join the industrial revolution.

On another note, with the recent visit of the China President Xi Jinping, I was lucky to be able to meet and shake hands with him. It gave me an impression that this great leader has a strong vision for China through its One Belt, One Road initiative which creates better connectivity across the world. China’s digital entrepreneurs like Alibaba’s Jack Ma clearly understand that online connectivity is the way forward. Dominating in both offline and online platforms will make the country more inclusive. This will then result to greater prosperity for all.

The importance of strengthening the China-Philippines relationship

China President Xi Jinping during the state dinner in Malacañang last Nov. 20.

Since joining the ASEAN Business Advisory Council as chairman of the Philippines two years ago, I’ve come to realize that being part of an international community demands building good relationships and fostering stronger trust. Before any good starts to happen, relationships must first be built.

This week, we welcomed China President Xi Jinping to the Philippines – a first visit of a China president in 13 years.

Ever since he was elected, President Duterte has taken a different approach with regards to our relationship with our Southeast Asian neighbor. This has led to many issues and arguments which concern our claims over islands and reefs. I think President Duterte did the right thing in fixing our relationship with China in a more diplomatic manner. In a statement last Monday, President Xi even said, “Our relations have now seen a rainbow after a rain.”

Last Tuesday, I was invited to be part of the state dinner to welcome President Xi to the Philippines. President Duterte introduced him as his “good friend,” and added that in the past two years, the Philippines has “resumed bilateral dialogue with China and deepened our relationship through positive engagement.”

President Duterte also expressed hope that the relationship will continue to flourish in the years to come: “I am hopeful that through our cooperation, opportunities for greater collaboration will further promote the prosperity and success of our nations, and contribute to lasting peace and stability in the region.”

During his speech, President Xi expressed his gratitude to President Duterte for the warm welcome accorded to him and his delegation. He shared that he laid a wreath at the monument of Dr. Jose Rizal, whose ancestry can be traced back to China. He also thanked President Duterte for the improved relations and the positive approach.

President Xi also said, “Earlier today, the President and I agreed to elevate the relationship to one of comprehensive, strategic cooperation. This decision, which will mark a new milestone in our relations speaks of our shared determination to be good friends and good neighbors. We are truly pleased with this decision.”

I had the rare chance to greet him and shake his hand after the dinner. I felt that he was approachable as he had a friendly demeanor towards the guests.

Our relationship with China  – to put it mildly–  has been contentious. But I’ve always believed in diplomacy. Because of China’s size and military power, war is not an option. This is why the ASEAN must find a solution that will foster amicable relations and bring about a stronger ASEAN with China seen as an ally and friend. Keeping a good relationship with China is a must to keep our future vibrant.

As a key player in the region, China can help boost Philippine tourism and economy, and can create many entrepreneurs. While we build strong relationships with China, we should not overlook our relationship with the US. The US has been and should continue to be a strong ally of the Philippines. They have consistently helped the country in times of our need. This relationship has also brought in a lot of business opportunities and investments the past years.

We must strive to maintain good relations built on trust with both powerful nations as this will ensure greater prosperity for our country.

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Last Saturday, the Philippine Embassy in Indonesia, led by Ambassador Lee Hiong Wee and his wife, Go Negosyo trustee and long-time advocate, Rosalind Wee, hosted a gathering of the Filipino community for the Mentor Me Launch of Go Negosyo in Jakarta, Indonesia. The objective of the event was to inculcate the values of an entrepreneurial mindset and promote awareness and business opportunities through the Go Negosyo advocacy.

This spells exciting times as the objective of Go Negosyo has never been to simply contain its influence within the country. We think local, but act global. We are here to help every Filipino, in every part of the world.

* * *

We would also like to congratulate another Go Negosyo trustee, Alice Eduardo of Sta. Elena Construction and Development Corp., for being one of the Filipinos included in the Forbes Asia list of Heroes of Philanthropy. Thanks to her efforts, she has helped build an isolation ward in the Philippine General Hospital, the biggest government hospital in the country. She has also built a nearby dormitory for the patients’ families. Aside from these, she has always been active in supporting the Go Negosyo advocacy, even mentoring some micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs. She even helped one micro entrepreneur who had attended our Filipina summit back in 2014. Today, that micro entrepreneur is now earning through her sustained enterprise in Tacloban. Alice is indeed worthy to be called a hero of philanthropy. Congratulations, Alice!


Building a more resilient ASEAN

ASEAN Business Advisory Council together with the Asean leaders during their interface held last Nov. 13.

This year, under Singapore’s chairmanship, led by Robert Yap, ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2018 revolved around the theme of “Building Tomorrow, Connecting Today,” which encapsulated ASEAN-BAC’s vision to adopt innovation in building a more resilient ASEAN. It also signifies the organization’s will to take immediate action in working towards ASEAN’s brighter and more competitive future.

I joined one of the forums at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit last Nov. 12, at Marina Bay Sands. Together with Shinta Widjaja Kamdani (Sintesa Group), Tony Cripps (HSBC Singapore), Chia Boon Chong (Singtel) and fellow ASEAN BAC chair Oudet Souvannavong (ASEAN BAC Lao PDR), we focused on the topic: Responsible Business for a Resilient ASEAN. At the forum, we discussed sustainable business practices that could help MSMEs address the challenges and opportunities of the changing global economic climate.

Trade Sec. Ramon Lopez did a great job in explaining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership during his forum with Singapore Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing and Malaysia International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking, who are both quite young. I commend our partner countries in bringing in new and young blood to the government.

Aside from the discussions, the Philippines bagged the most number of awards at the recently concluded ASEAN Business Awards 2018. Eight out of 21 awards were given to our Filipino entrepreneurs and their companies including: Pioneer Adhesives Inc., Seaoil Philippines of Glenn Yu, Jollibee Foods Corp. of Tony Tan Caktiong, International Container Terminal Services Inc. of Enrique Razon, Wilcon Depot of William Belo, CARD MRI of Jaime Alip, and Coffee for Peace of Joji Pantoja. The grand award for family enterprise across ASEAN was given to Century Pacific Foods Inc., led by its founder Ricardo Po Sr. who personally received the award.

We actually had the most number of nominations this year. Through the help of the Go Negosyo team, we were able to send more than 100 nominees out of the 280 total nominees in ASEAN. And with the help of our Pilipinas Angat Lahat Alliance, especially the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, all our efforts to showcase Philippines’ ingenuity and excellence are paying off.

From these achievements, we can see that the momentum in entrepreneurship development is moving at a much faster pace. With the help of the government through Sec. Lopez and the Department of Agriculture with Secretary Manny Piñol, we are moving in the right direction. We still have a long ways to go, but with the continuous support of our alliance of business organizations and chambers, we will succeed.

Yearly, the ASEAN BAC has the opportunity to discuss matters and concerns with the leaders of every member country in ASEAN. I shared with the leaders the efforts of the Philippines legacy project last year, which is the ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network (AMEN).

ASEAN Business Advisory Council Philippines chairman Joey Concepcion, Century Pacific Food’s executive chairman Chris Po and chairman emeritus Ricardo Po, together with Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad.

ASEAN BAC also recently signed an agreement with Singapore Polytechnic to bring an online entrepreneurship program to universities and colleges across the region. The Philippines will be the first to implement the program which aims to prepare the youth for the fourth industrial revolution. I am sure that this is a game-changer that other countries can also adopt in the future.

Likewise, Vietnam has confirmed to host the next ASEAN Agriculture Summit which the Philippines organized that past two years. We will co-chair it with them. Additionally, Philippines will also launch the ASEAN Tourism Summit in 2019, with Thailand as the co-chair.

AMEN is operating as we had envisioned. Programs are being shared across the region in order to create a stronger network of entrepreneurs that will help our micro, small and medium enterprises scale up.

I want to thank my fellow ASEAN BAC Philippines council members Tessie Sy-Coson and George Barcelon, who, despite their busy schedules, made an effort to be at our events and engagements, both local and international. In addition, Tessie initiated the donation of ASEAN BAC Philippines to Indonesia in response to the recent calamity that hit the country. In my two years serving the council, I understand that the key to ASEAN integration is relationship and trust. Gestures like these will further solidify relationships and build greater trust among countries.

We congratulate Singapore and Robert Yap and his team for successfully hosting ASEAN in their country. As Thailand takes over the chairmanship, we promise to continue to work together with them and seek further assistance on how to boost our tourism and agriculture.


The Philippine Finalists to the ASEAN Business Awards

The Philippine Finalists for the ASEAN Business Awards 2018 to be held at Singapore in November 12, 2018.

Last year, when we hosted the 50th ASEAN Anniversary, 47 companies and entrepreneurs from the countries in the ASEAN region was brought into spotlight as they were commended under different categories in the ASEAN Business Awards (ABA). This year, as Singapore chairs the ASEAN, ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN BAC) will once again recognize companies in the region who have shown exemplary growth and success not only in their countries but also within and beyond the region. Adding to the standard categories is the Family Business Award which aims to recognize outstanding multi-generational family businesses that have sustainable business models and made a significant impact in the ASEAN community.

Since its inception, ABA has become an opportunity for us to showcase Filipino businesses that have navigated their way to success thus becoming significant partners and contributors to regional prosperity.

Last October 18, alongside the gala dinner of the Philippine Business Conference and Expo of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, ASEAN BAC Philippines named the 2018 Philippine Finalists to the ABA 2018!

Our country will be proudly sending finalists – all of whom have passed the stringent criteria of ABA – to Marina Bay Sands in Singapore for the highly-anticipated awards night that will happen in the 12th of November. I wish to congratulate them in advance as they all deserved to win the awards. Watch out for the 2018 ASEAN Business Awardees!

ASEAN Business Advisory Council Philippines Chair Joey Concepcion.


Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Alegria Limjoco.


Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and ASEAN Business Advisory Council Philippines Member Georger Barcelon.

PCCI Chair George Barcelon, PCCI President Bing Limjoco, and ASEAN BAC PH Chair Joey Concepcion together with Jaime Aristotle Alip Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) Inc., Evelyn Lao-Yap of Benby Enterprises, and Leandro Antonio Leviste of Solar Philippines.


Evelyn Lao-Yap of Benby Enterprises, Philippine finalist for Women Entrepreneur category.


Leandro Antonio Leviste of the Solar Philippines, Philippine finalist for Young Entrepreneur category.


ASEAN Priority Sectors category finalists: Jollibee Foods Corporation (Food and Beverage) represented by Joseph Tanbuntiong; International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (Logistics) represented by Arthur Tabuena; Pioneer Adhesives Inc. (Automotive) represented by Edwin Avillon; Wilcon Depot, Inc. (Retail) represented by William Belo; and Seaoil Philippines, Inc. (Transformed Energy) with Glenn Yu.


Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) Inc., Philippine finalist for Sustainable Social Enterprise. Receiving the award is Dr. Jaime Aristotle Alip.


Century Pacific Foods, Inc. named as the Philippine finalist for Family Business category. Chris Po received the award for the company.


Our Philippine Finalists for SME Excellence Awards: Coffee for Peace Inc. represented by Philippines Judge to ABA Atty. Dick Du-Baladad,;Philippine Utility Vehicles, Inc. represented by Rommel Juan; Santos Knight Frank, Inc. represented by Milette Gaurino; and Cinco Corporation of Jose Magsaysay Jr.