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Women entrepreneurs are one of the leading drivers of our economy. They are conquering challenges, winning battles, and succeeding in life. Men are in awe as to how women work to create innovative products and services or construct business ideas and techniques while doing their role as mothers, sisters, or daughters.
Over the past few years, we have recognized Filipina entrepreneurs who are inspiring, passionate, and persistent in reaching goals not just for themselves, but also for their companies as well. As we say, there are women who have the “panalo” or “can do” attitude that helps them achieve.
In 2009, we had our first Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit which was attended by more than 15,000 participants. I remember that it was our first time to recognize women entrepreneurs who we call, “The Mothers of Mother Entrepreneurs.” We recognized Socorro “Nanay Coring” Ramos of National Bookstore, Dr. Helena Benitez of Philippine Women University, and Madam Eulalia Baylon of Immaculate Conception College Albay.
Nanay Coring of National Bookstore is one of the oldest women entrepreneurs in the country. She is an example of hard work and passion. From a humble convenience store in Escolta and many struggles in between, Nanay Coring still heads the largest bookstore chain in the country. Several years after we gave our first award to Nanay Coring, we recognized her with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Entrepreneurs in 2015 during the 7th Filipina Summit.
Another Lifetime Achievement Awardee is Esther Vibal. Tita Esther, as I fondly call her, is one of the Go Negosyo trustees and has been with us since then. She has actively supported the advocacy and helped promote entrepreneurship in the country. Her keen adherence to quality and excellence, guided the company to excel in its field. The Queen of Publishing, Tita Esther and her Vibal Publishing group continues to publish textbooks and other educational materials for Filipinos.
Most well loved brands are run by women entrepreneurs or “mompreneurs”. Just like our favorite brand of foams, pillows and mattresses, Uratex, is run by Natividad Cheng who is one of the 2011 Filipina awardees. Their company started as Polyfoam Chemical Corp. which produces foam for furniture manufacturing. But like many entrepreneurs, they faced several trials that challenged their entrepreneurial spirit. With resilience and innovation, they continue to be a market leader.
Another women entrepreneur and advocate is Pacita Juan or Chit. She is also a 2011 Inspiring Filipina awardee and one of the keen supporters of women entrepreneurs. From being the CEO of Figaro Coffee Co., to running the social enterprise ECHOStore, Chit continues to show passion for Philippine products. ECHOStore houses different environment-friendly merchandise sourced from poor communities in the country. Currently, she chairs the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Network (AWEN) and works with the ASEAN Business Advisory Council for its programs for women.
We have also awarded micro entrepreneurs such as Teresita Valdez and Lydia Malot. I met both of them in the Citi Microentrepreneur Awards organized by Citibank and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Teresita Valdez started as an employee in a bagoong manufacturing company in Navotas, but eventually started her own company – Viana Food Condiments which manufactures sautéed shrimp paste and anchovy sauces. Her firm has reached not only her market in Navotas, but also abroad.
Lydia Malot, on the other hand, is a nata de coco manufacturer from Davao. Prior to being an entrepreneur, she was a teacher by profession, but opted to focus on her business. She started the business with a capital of P300, and today, she supplies products to large food and beverage companies in the country.
We have recognized 200 Filipina entrepreneurs over a span of 12 years. The women entrepreneurs hail from different industries such as retail, fashion, academe, social enterprise, agriculture, arts and crafts, realty, technology, and many more. Looking back, I think we have recognized more women entrepreneurs than men.
For 2017, the search is on once again for the next batch of Inspiring Filipina Entrepreneurs. We opened the nominations last week and we have received around 100 nominations from our partners and the general public. I read some of the nominations and I must agree, women are real entrepreneurs with their heart, mind and body dedicated to it. Soon, we shall name the latest batch of empowering Pinays.
I hope more aspiring and young entrepreneurs can draw inspiration from these women. They are women worthy of praise and admiration for their commitment to attain success. May we all strive to become the best that we can be just like these women entrepreneurs.