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Go Negosyo, along with the MSMED Council, recently celebrated SME Development Week at the Philippine Trade Training Center in Manila. The weeklong celebration, spearheaded by the DTI-MSMED, happens every second week of July each year. And for 2011, the highlight of the nationwide event was the SME Summit last July 7 themed “Pinoy SME: Business Tayo!”
DTI Secretary Gregory Domingo, who is also the chairman of the MSMED Council, gave an overview of the importance of SME development in country, while Usec. Merly Cruz of the DTI Regional Operations Group presented the SME Development Plan for 2011-2016. There was also a forum hosted by Go Negosyo that was joined in by yours truly and by Go Negosyo advocate Prudencio Garcia, CEO of Mekeni Foods. One of the highlights of the summit was the presentation of the SME Pledge Book to Sec. Greg. As vice chairman of the MSMED Council, it was a privilege for me to hand over the testament of our commitment and support to foster a nurturing environment for SME growth nationwide.
Events like SME Week are very significant especially for a country like ours, as the majority of negosyos that help support the bigger chunk of the population fall into the SME category. Though many have now seen the benefits of getting into negosyo, plenty still need to be encouraged and enlightened. That’s why we have never eased up on our efforts to reach out to more Filipinos all over the country to help change their mindset and help them take the first steps to improving their lives through entrepreneurship education and mentoring.
For the past six years, Go Negosyo has been working hand in hand with the DTI in bringing the DTI-Go Negosyo SME Caravans to different regions of the Philippines, in the hope of inspiring Filipinos to start a negosyo of their own and make the most of what they have in life.
For this year, we kicked off the SME Caravan in April with a visit to Region 10 and headed to the province of Bukidnon. The destination was the city of Valencia where Mayor Leandro Jose Catarata welcomed the Go Negosyo team. Along with the DTI — led by DTI regional director Alice Eusenia — and the local government unit, we successfully conducted our first caravan for 2011.
Abaca maven: Perla Rubio of Malaybalay Choice Crafts
Go Negosyo executive director Ramon Lopez was in Bukidnon to discuss the Go Negosyo advocacy as well as Angelpreneurs Dean “Pax” Lapid and Ping Sotto, who shared their wisdom and expertise on having the right mindset for negosyo and spotting opportunities. It’s also an honor that Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño took time out from his busy schedule to join the event. As chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development, he expressed that he is one with Go Negosyo in supporting and empowering SMEs.
In Bukidnon, the Tagumpay forum was made more meaningful and personal by entreps from the region, who are now helping their fellow locals find success in negosyo as well. Dr. Reynaldo Rafistura, owner of Salay Handmade Paper, was one of the successful and inspiring negosyantes who shared his experience in making paper products out of cogon grass. He believes that his business was God-given as it came to them when they least expected it.
It started when he saw a Philippine Design Center van in their neighboring town, whose crew taught people how to make slippers, shoes and paper products. From that moment on, he was inspired to try it and involve the community to provide employment. He recalled they started with only P6,000 as capital, with a lot of assistance from the DTI. Today, their negosyo is helping sustain a lot of families in their community. They are also reaching out to entrepreneurs who want to start their own negosyo by extending microfinancial assistance to those in need.
nother entrepreneur who inspired her kababayans in Bukidnon was Perla Rubio, the owner of Malaybalay Choice Crafts. Her negosyo produces and sells products made from abaca cloth woven by a community of mothers in the mountains. Perl recalled it started when a mother from the mountains knocked on her door selling hand-woven fabrics so they could have some food on the table. Even without any use for it, Perl started buying their fabrics just so she could help them feed their families. Eventually, an idea came to her to make something out of the materials so she could provide a livelihood for the community. Now Malaybalay Choice Crafts is a thriving social enterprise that showcases various products and accessories from abaca like mats, slippers, wallets and bags.
Her advice to those who want to start a negosyo is to work hard to make your negosyo grow. And as it grows, she urges people to help others out, especially those in their own community. She revealed that she, too, always strives to learn and expand her business so she can have more opportunities to share. Perl says to always trust in God when it comes to managing your negosyo. Don’t lose heart when it gets tough because others are also depending on your livelihood.
Jose Roy Panes, another inspiring entrepreneur from Bukidnon, also joined the Go Negosyo forum. The story of how he grew his negosyo, Sir Edwards Restaurant, also gave local entrepreneurs some ideas on how they could survive competition and continue to improve what they have already started. Roy admitted that managing a negosyo is very challenging but he noted that an entrepreneur must know what else he can offer his consumers that others don’t. He also advises those who want to start a negosyo to always take the initiative and improve yourself and your business. He added that personal discipline is very important for any entrepreneur to succeed.
hristopher Barrameda and his wife, Anne, the owners of Abba’s Orchard School, welcomed us to their campus, which they established more than a decade ago. The couple revealed that putting up a school was really not the plan but they just wanted a quality education for their children after relocating to Bukidnon. Scouting for a good school eventually gave them the idea of starting a Montessori school in the area. Soon, Anne got Montessori certification in the US, while Chris personally bulldozed the property they bought to get the school started.
Because of hard work and their promise of excellence, Chris and Anne were able to establish a school that earned the trust of community. They took it upon themselves to learn the Montessori school system and get certified to continue giving world-class education to the children enrolled. Anne says it stems from wanting the best for their kids, who were the first students of the school. Today, Abba’s Orchard teaches hundreds of students and has campuses in CDO, Davao, Cebu and Manila.
These are just some of the stories that have inspired us during our tour of different parts of the country. I will definitely share with you more stories in the future as we visit more places in the Philippines. And we hope it can also ignite a fire in your heart to start your own negosyo and to reach out to those who need your help.
As I always say, we still have a long way to go before we reach our goal of eliminating poverty in the country. But each year, after every Caravan, and after every Negosem (Negosyo Seminar), we get closer to that dream. We encourage you to join the fight. Whether you aspire to become a negosyante yourself or want to be an enabler to one, a small act of support can go along way — not just for the negosyantes but for the entire country as well.