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Since Go Negosyo started eight years ago, we have been a partner of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in helping inspire and mentor many of the small entrepreneurs that they have harnessed through the years, way back during the time of former President GMA, with her One Town One Product (OTOP) project. The DTI has harnessed quite a number of OTOP entrepreneurs. Undersecretary Merly Cruz, who even during my fatherâ€™s time in the late â€™80s, was already serving small entrepreneurs in the regions, together with her dynamic team of regional and provincial directors. Under Secretary Greg Domingo, our free seminar caravans continued and usec. Merly just has the heart and passion in helping small entrepreneurs to scale up.
In the recent agribusiness conference done in Davao, we heard the announcement of our long-time partner usec. Merly about her retirement after serving government for 33 years. I believe it was a productive career as she has been very instrumental in pushing for many SME development programs at the regional level, which is closer to the grassroots. This includes the use of industry clustering approach that basically links the various SMEs in an industry, and how one can supply the other stakeholders in the value chain. She lives and breathes small business development every time we had discussions on the subject. It was really a privilege to work with a very committed, intelligent and honest government official. We wish her the best of health and continuous achievements in her private endeavors. She is not leaving the task unattended as she has turned over the SME and regional development function to another very qualified and passionate undersecretary, Zeny Maglaya, who is a long-time technocrat, also a popular radio co-anchor and expert in consumer welfare. She will definitely move the SME sector further forward.
Talking about the highly attended agribusiness conference initiated by the DTI, they were only projecting about 600 participants but over 1,200 attended. The conference aimed to use the industry cluster approach towards Inclusive growth. It is a kind of growth that President Aquino pushes for as it benefits a wide range of stakeholders, most especially the grassroots, and the SMEâ€™s that can generate more jobs for Filipinos. We congratulate Secretary Greg Domingo and undersecretary Merly for spearheading this innovative development approach that actually leads to greater opportunities in the countryside, thus promoting as well regional distribution of income.
With the support of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), DTI and its partners have identified 24 industry clusters nationwide, such as coffee, milkfish, dairy, and bamboo in North Luzon; information and communication technology(ICT), health and wellness, tourism, wearables and homestyle in South Luzon; health and wellness, ICT and tourism for the Visayas region; and banana, mango, coconut, seaweed, wood, mining, poultry, tuna, palm oil, pangasius, rubber, meat in Mindanao. Actually many of these cut across different regions and are promoted as well in other parts of the country. The good thing with the cluster approach is it systematically links the various stages of the value chain per cluster, from inputs, to production, processing, marketing, services, logistics and distribution. So one can imagine a huge number of negosyo opportunities within such industry.
Go Negosyo through our executive director Ramon Lopez was able to share some insights on the benefits of the industry cluster approach, and how each entrepreneur can prepare to maximize the many opportunities it presents. There is always the reality that each entrepreneur will still have to compete with the other players within those value chains, and with other foreign suppliers. Thus, it was emphasized how each one should sustain its competitive edge as a business, in terms of providing consistent quality and value over other players, how one can find ways to always level-up, and innovate on processes, or on products and specs that are needed by buyers/users.
We were also able to share during the big conference some agribusiness opportunities in Mindanao based on a sample list of requirements revealed by our fellow entrepreneurs in Go Negosyo. For instance, there is a good opportunity for seaweeds as Rosalind Wee of W. Hydrocolloids requires about 24MT of seaweeds every year; our Selecta needs about 300MT of ube (Kinampay variety) for our best-selling ube ice cream, as well as 250MT of peanuts (runners variety) and buko meat of about 75MT per year. There is a continuous demand also for sugar, cocoa powder for our Selecta milk and Sunkist beverage business. Our friend Justin Uy of Profoods, largest exporter of processed/dried mangos and other fruits, requires about 4,000 MT per month of fresh mango, 300 MT of passion fruit, 200MT of guyabano and about a million young coconut (buko) per month. Kim Lapus of Mama Sita says that they always look for peanuts (about 19,000 kgs), achuete (4,000 kgs), guava, tamarind, garlic, gabi (white and pink variety), sili labuyo, and onions. The multinational Unilever also requires a huge amount of tamarind for their sinigang mix. Ferdie Maranon of Sagrex, a big frozen/processed banana saba exporter, needs more of these saba. Social entrepreneur and cocoa exporter Rob Crisostomo needs around 2,000 MT of cocoa beans. DVFâ€™s Danilo Fausto also encourages the dairy cattle raising given the increasing demand for milk and dairy products like yogurt and cheese. Finally, leading agripreneur and CEO of La Frutera Senen Bacani confirmed that there are many opportunities for more banana, pineapple, coconut, palm oil, rubber, coffee, cassava, seaweeds, tuna, corn, rice, mango, cacao; aquaculture and mariculture products.
It is really up to us to make our move and grab even a piece of what the rich agribusiness sector offers to all of us; especially for those who have the passion and heart for agribusiness.
Today, the Go Negosyo team and the countryâ€™s leading marketing educator Josiah Go, goes to Naga City for the Magandang Business Advice (MBA) on Marketing and Innopreneurship. On July 28, we are going to Saint Louis University-Baguio for the North Luzon run of Youth Entrepreneurship Summit 2013. Also, with Go Negosyo as one of its partners, Philippines Franchise Association holds Asiaâ€™s biggest 4-in-1 franchise show, Franchise Asia Philippines 2013 on July 17-21, 2013 at the SMX Convention Center. It has been the best place to discover proven business opportunities as well as to forge fruitful partnerships.