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First of all, I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year, most especially those who have helped us reach significant milestones in our advocacy last 2019 – Go Negosyo advocates, mentors, sponsors and supporters who are part of the ecosystem of Mentorship, Money and Market.
We have a lot in store for our MSMEs this 2020 as we, Go Negosyo, celebrate our 15th anniversary. The new year spells greater growth and opportunity for our country as economic activity is predicted to remain robust.
Looking back, 2019 was a bountiful year, a testament to our clear vision and our want for unity and strong partnerships. We’ve put inclusive growth and micro and small entrepreneurs’ development at the forefront of our mission.
In the past decade, I have served two presidents as presidential adviser for entrepreneurship, a pro-bono role that has led to the creation of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, also known as Go Negosyo.
Go Negosyo’s primary quest towards MSME development is grounded on the 3Ms – Mentorship, Money and Market – which have inspired many of our initiatives and programs.
Last year, more than 50,000 Filipinos joined our entrepreneurial revolution, participating in our large-scale summits. We also have 2,316 mentee-graduates, who came from the 106 batches of the Kapatid Mentor Me Program (KMME), held in 96 provinces and cities, in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry. We also have more than 1,300 participants for the Kapatid Agri Mentor Me Program (KAMMP), done in partnership with the Department of Agriculture. Proudly, we’ve gathered 8,360 mentees in the 20 rollouts of the Mentor Me on Wheels program (MMOW), and 2,239 mentee graduates from the 16 batches conducted of the Money Market Encounter (MME).
For the year-end rollout of our MMOW program, held at the Music Hall of SM Mall of Asia last December 12, we catered to more than a thousand overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), seafarers, and their families. Go Negosyo and the Department of Trade and Industry, in partnership with the Philippine Transmarine Carriers, Inc., introduced participants to various livelihood opportunities, and updated them with essential business know-how during the one-on-one consultations.
During the event, I talked to some of our OFWs and listened to their stories. They were members of the D’Original OFW Family Circle, a group under the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). As they shared their experiences abroad, some of them had it worse, while some have found luck on their way.
Our mentorship session was well-attended, not just by mentees but different entrep-mentors from different industries. These mentors included Rosalinda Wee, co-founder and vice chairman of W Group of Companies; Henry Lim Bon Liong, CEO of SL Agritech Corp.; George Barcelon of PCCI; Simon Heo, director of Parola Maritime Corp.; Gerardo Borromeo, CEO of Philippine Transmarine Carriers Inc.; and Cecilio Pedro, president and CEO of Lamoiyan Corp., among others. Tessie Sy-Coson, one of Go Negosyo’s most active advocates and supporters, also graced the event.
The heart of our advocacy has always been our dedicated mentors. When it comes to opportunity, I believe that the areas that will create greater prosperity with strong public and private sector support are agriculture, tourism and digitalization.
The bulk of our micro and small entrepreneurs belong to the agriculture sector. Equipping them with the right tools and support is important in order for them to become more competitive. And through the initiatives of Agriculture Secretary William Dar, they’re well on their way. There are many other opportunities for growth and development in this sector, but we must invest in them.
As Go Negosyo pursues its efforts in helping MSMEs, our government is fixing connectivity offline and online. Offline includes the construction of bridges, roads, airports, and ports that will be completed as promised by President Duterte’s administration. And construction on many of these projects are already underway. Online, both telecommunications giants – Globe and Smart – are competing heavily, as consumers and entrepreneurs are starting to embrace the opportunities on this platform. Money and market digital platforms will create disruption for the offline sector. These tools can help our MSMEs adapt and give them a better chance to succeed.
Tourism, on the other hand, can be boosted if supported by infrastructure projects that will open up our islands and provinces. With the ongoing construction of airports through public-private initiatives, market connectivity can be enhanced, which is key to supporting our MSMEs in this area.
Lastly, digitalization, I believe, is one of the strongest drivers of economic growth in the country. Through various digital platforms, there are more Filipinos who are now self-earning entrepreneurs. I believe that new billionaires will come from this sector. Likewise, this platform will create greater inclusivity as it provides access to money and market.
It will be an exciting year ahead for all our entrepreneurs!