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By most projections, the future of the Philippines looks promising. If you set aside the pessimism and short-lived issues, we can look forward to steady progress ahead. As outlined in the Philippine Development Plan, our country’s economic roadmap, we have set our sights on becoming an upper-middle income nation by 2025. With a predominantly young and digital-savvy population, I tend to agree that we are indeed well-positioned to become one of the fastest-growing economies in the region.
In my role outside of RFM, I have the privilege of working at the intersection of two growth drivers that will help us achieve this goal: the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in my job at Go Negosyo and job creation as the lead for Jobs cluster of the Private Sector Advisory Council. Both these sectors will have a significant role as we move forward, with MSMEs thriving on growing consumer demand, and our workforce remaining a key advantage of the Philippine economy.
Over the past year, Go Negosyo has mentored thousands of active and aspiring entrepreneurs, and put MSMEs in the spotlight on both the national and regional stage. We have worked tirelessly to provide them with enhanced access to capital, markets and mentoring. Our efforts have also focused on encouraging the adoption of digital technology and reaching out to a broader audience to foster an entrepreneurial mindset.
As Go Negosyo enters its second decade, I must admit that I never anticipated it would play such a substantial role in my life for such an extended period. Indeed, I am incredibly satisfied with the impact it has made. I was inspired by my father, JoeCon, and my uncle Raul, who also dedicated themselves to causes beyond their corporate work. I now understand the rewarding nature of such endeavors.
But, being a businessman, I still find it useful to quantify our accomplishments to appreciate the progress we have achieved. In 2023 alone, Go Negosyo was able to mentor over 20,000 active and aspiring entrepreneurs across the Philippines, thanks to the support of more than a thousand Go Negosyo mentors and our partners in MSME development. These mentorships are conducted regularly and span various programs.
One of the most visible is the mall-based public mentoring program called 3M on Wheels. In collaboration with local government units and industry groups, we have reached out to active and aspiring entrepreneurs in local communities. This year alone, we have mentored over 6,000 individuals through this initiative and plan to expand its frequency nationwide.
3M on Wheels serves as the entry point for MSME training. For established businesses, we have developed an “MBA for MSMEs,” the Kapatid Mentor MicroEntrepreneurs (ME) program and its agri-focused version, the Kapatid Agri Mentor ME Program. These programs are implemented in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural Training Institute. Since the inception of these programs, over 15,000 participants have completed the program; this year, we added over 2,000 more from across the country.
We wanted to share the success of our KMME and KAMMP programs with our neighboring ASEAN member-states, particularly in light of the ASEAN economic integration. Thus, we extended our efforts by creating the ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network (AMEN) as our legacy program from the Philippines’ chairmanship of ASEAN in 2017. So far, we have produced 196 graduates from the ten ASEAN member-states.
Similarly, we are currently laying the groundwork to share the principles of the Kapatid Angat Lahat sa Agri Program (KALAP) with other countries in the region. Our aim is to realize the benefits of public-private partnerships in agriculture and exchange lessons in agripreneurship among our ASEAN neighbors. In our own country, we have already gathered 50 big-brother agriculture companies who have committed to sharing their inclusive business models with small farmers and integrating them into their value chains. Additionally, our recent partnership with the Cooperative Development Authority will undoubtedly help us identify more small farmers for KALAP.
Recognizing that our young population is a significant advantage in the near term, we have also launched the Youthpreneur program in 2023. This program is specifically designed to provide the youth with a practical understanding of business and cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset. Both our mall-based and school-based Youthpreneur events have been tremendously successful, largely due to the support of the Department of Education.
And because the entrepreneur thrives in a dynamic environment, we’ve continued to organize national summits to focus on areas of growth and challenges for MSMEs. These include the Women Summit for women entrepreneurs, the Balik-Bayan Summit to assist OFWs and their families in reintegrating as entrepreneurs, the Tourism Summit to explore opportunities for MSMEs in the local tourism industry and Digital SignUp Now, which focuses on one of the most exciting areas for entrepreneurs: digital technology. Through these specialized events, we have provided focused mentoring to more than 6,000 active and aspiring entrepreneurs. Moreover, our annual MSME Summit serves as a platform for dialogue between the government and the private sector, offering valuable insights into MSME development and related issues.
Overall, we promoted private sector participation in key economic development issues and worked closely with government agencies and various local government units across the country.
And now, as Go Negosyo approaches its second decade of serving the MSME sector, we will continue to advocate for entrepreneurship as a pathway to sustainable and inclusive growth. This will be achieved through these focused and sustained programs that harness the power and potential of public-private sector cooperation.
None of our achievements would have been possible without the invaluable support of big-brother companies. Their unwavering commitment has brought us closer to our goal of alleviating poverty in our country through entrepreneurship.
By promoting entrepreneurship, we are paving the way for sustainable and inclusive growth, bringing our nation closer to achieving prosperity for all.