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In my last column, I shared the very good turnout in our first Agri-Negosyo Summit with over 7,000 young, aspiring agripreneur participants together with successful agripreneurs and enablers.
In appreciation of all those who shared their stories and knowledge to the aspiring agripreneurs, we held a thanksgiving dinner last Friday together with our partners and community of Go Negosyo entrepreneurs. The gathering was also in celebration of the nine years of Go Negosyo entrepreneurship advocacy.
Sharing our vision to give agri negosyo a push, New Zealand Ambassador Reuben Levermore joined us in organizing the dinner which we converted into a productive dinner-forum on agribusiness. By the way, Amb. Reuben, unfortunately, will be moving soon to another post so we were kidding him that that night was also a despedida for him. But kidding aside, he was very passionate in sharing how the New Zealand government is helping the Philippine agri sector, particularly in the dairy industry. Aside from sending technical teams, they also invited young agri entreps and leaders to a study trip to New Zealand as part of their ASEAN Program on youth leadership and entrepreneurship.
We had a great session last Friday with Sen. Bam Aquino sharing with the entrepreneurs the passing of the Go Negosyo Bill into a law, signed recently by President Aquino. The Go Negosyo Act will be a big help to the small entrepreneurs in the country as this will facilitate business registration processes, providing training and mentorships, access to funds and linkage to market. The ease in setting up businesses can fast track the creation of jobs and income opportunities in the countryside since the Go Negosyo centers will be set-up in all cities and municipalities. The group of Sen. Bam has identified the first six areas where Go Negosyo Centers will be put up.
Go Negosyo entrepreneurs saw the bill as a big boost to micro SMEs in the country and at the least, create an enterprising culture where all can have a better chance to succeed through inspiration, information, knowhow and mentoring. We thank Sen. Bam and his colleagues like Sen Cynthia Villar, Sen. Sonny Angara in the Senate and Reps Mark Villar and Neil Montejo and their committees for their unanimous support for the landmark entrepreneurship development law. It was great to have also DTI Sec. Greg Domingo in the session as DTI will be the key implementer of the Go Negosyo Act.
We also had a very insightful forum with Sen. Cynthia Villar, who gave the keynote address in our summit. I have known her for years but I am amazed on how she answered the questions in detail. She has really mastered the agricultural sector. She was joined by ‘MVP’ Manny Pangilinan who is becoming a big player in the agribusiness sector, as well as Henry Lim Bon Liong, who is at the forefront of producer high-yielding variety for hybrid rice. Bounty Fresh Tennyson Chen also joined the very engaging discussion. The forum centered on profitable business models in the agri sector, to show that there’s money in agriculture, the need to inject corporate farming models, operational efficiencies, use of technology say on seed varieties, farming mechanization, inter-cropping, value-adding and use of technology and better packaging. Sen. Villar, MVP, Henry and Tennyson were all so smart and practical as they gave their advise and answers during the Q&A forum.
MVP shared that agri operations need to be ran efficiently, with specific metrics and the innovation factor must continue to ensure competitiveness. Equipment and processes must be upgraded to be able to compete especially with the lowering of tariff protection in ASEAN, especially on sugar. MVP is a big supporter of Go Negosyo and always has time to attend Go Negosyo programs to inspire and mentor other entrepreneurs.
The forum, which we are calling Negosyo Talks, was viewed by most of the 200 entrepreneurs as very useful and informative. We are, therefore, scheduling soon another Negosyo Talks in Cebu on Aug. 28, the night before our upcoming Creativity and Innovation Summit set on Aug. 29. Go Negosyo is fortunate to have built a strong partnership and association with key entrepreneurs and corporations in the country and progressive government leaders who are one in pushing for entrepreneurship and being enterprising as the key to solving poverty. It is actually the only way for Filipinos to move up in life. Life is a choice. Success is only for those who want it most. We can only provide the inspiration, knowhow and tools.
Let’s go, Go Negosyo!