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What does it take for someone to become a champion?
A champion is somebody who has done a great amount of good for the benefit of others. He is someone who went past himself and pushed himself beyond his limits to extend help to those who are in need. Passion is a champion’s only weapon, and in his quest to reach his goals, he knows that he will be facing challenges that he has not imagined facing before. But a champion will handle it with such courage just to make sure that his purpose will be attained.
SGV Foundation recently held the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines 2012. Seventeen champions in entrepreneurship were honored, and from this year’s pool of finalists, six of them emerged as winners under the Small Business Entrepreneur, Master Entrepreneur, Social Entrepreneur, Woman Entrepreneur, Emerging Entrepreneur, and Young Entrepreneur categories.
For the past five years, I have been attending EOY to award the Small Business Entrepreneur category winner, because of my involvement with Go Negosyo, which focuses on the micro and small entrepreneurs. During the ceremonies last Oct. 18, I was happy that Jaime I. Ayala of Hybrid Social Solutions, Inc. won the Entrepreneur of the Year award. On top of that, he is also the first social entrepreneur who has won this prestigious recognition.
Jim was a former executive in one of the country’s top corporations. He ended his stint with Ayala Land as he decided on go on his own and do something that not everybody does — establish a challenging business of selling solar-powered radios and flashlights to those in farflung areas who had no access to energy.
His journey was not easy. When he was starting out, he had to ship the items in balikbayan boxes until he had reached an economical quantity. This also required him to really travel to areas where most people would not go. Considering that he was the former president of Ayala Land, he had to do all of the manual work himself as a start-up social enterprise. He remained an advocate of entrepreneurship, as Jim joined a number of Go Negosyo activities, encouraging many young and micro small entrepreneurs not to give up.
This year, EOY’s theme is passion. Surely, Jim has the passion, but no one including himself expected him to bag the top award, as his business is one of the smallest in terms of revenue and profit. In a text message, I told him that he was chosen because he embodied the theme due to his efforts in helping the poor obtain access to an alternative source of energy and light at the cheapest cost. Indeed, this is God’s gift to him and his ever-supportive wife and family, who were present that night.
The following day, I had a meeting with Undersecretary Merle Cruz of DTI. As one of the judges, I asked her what made them choose Jim as this year’s EOY. She said that ever since Tony Tan Caktiong won the World Entrepreneur of the Year in 2004, no one else from the Philippines has won despite the size of their business. What Jim had was something different, a story that could inspire the international judges. Jim has a good shot at the World Entrepreneur of the Year that will be held in Monaco next June.
Congratulations to the other winners: Jose Victor Paterno of Philippine Seven Corp. (Master Entrepreneur award), Tommanny Tan of Fern, Inc. (Emerging Entrepreneur award), Jonathan Suy of Jomaray Pulp Packaging Industries (Small Business Entrepreneur award), Venus C. Genson of Art ‘N’ Nature Manufacturing Corp. (Woman Entrepreneur award), and Marvin Agustin of SumoSam Foods, Inc. (Young Entrepreneur award).
Congratulations also to the other finalists, especially to Go Negosyo advocates Nelson and Siu Ping Par, Raffy Juan (Business Excellence award), Willy Tee Ten, Vince Rafisura, and Edwin Salonga.
Go Negosyo continues to be a supporter of the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year program because it validates our advocacy of promoting entrepreneurship as an alternative way of moving out of poverty. By highlighting the success of our local negosyantes, EOY sends a message that there is indeed a bright future for all of us, if only we can encourage more Filipinos to adopt the traits that these entrepreneurs have. They are champions because they have proven that beyond being successful, they were able to live by what a true entrepreneur is: they practiced exemplary skills in expanding their businesses while introducing innovations in their own fields and providing opportunities in the form of employment along the way. May Jim and the rest of this year’s awardees and finalists continue to be champions of entrepreneurship in the country.