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The past week was a flurry of activity for us at Go Negosyo. Last Friday, Aug. 19, we had our in-person 3MOW event at the Ayala Malls Manila Bay, the fourth since we resumed the free mentoring sessions for active and aspiring entrepreneurs. I was elated to see this the enthusiasm from both our mentors and mentees has not waned. We welcomed so many respected mentors resuming their advocacy of helping small entrepreneurs and many more mentees hoping to get their advice.
At this event, I had the opportunity to mentor several entrepreneurs. Some, like twin sisters Lovelle and Daffodil Castellon, needed a little direction in terms of branding and packaging their Twins Pure Honey Peanut Butter. Others, like former government employee Christian Chester, just needed words of encouragement to perseverwith his chili sauce business. However we help, I can assure our mentors that it goes a long way in making a difference in entrepreneurs’ lives.
This Friday, we will get to know more entrepreneurs at our biggest event yet this year, the MSME Summit. Not only because it will be a venue for strategic dialogue for exchanging ideas and insights to help our MSMEs recover post-pandemic, it will also be the launch of Kapatid Angat Lahat, the public-private sector partnership initiative that aims to promote inclusive economic growth using Go Negosyo’s framework of providing MSMEs access to money, markets, and mentoring. The heart of the program is big business helping MSMEs scale up by providing them the opportunities, information, and linkages to help them not just survive, but thrive.
From our 16 years of working with MSMEs, we have identified the assistance they need on a programs level. MSMEs need guidance on legal business registration and operational requirements, formalizing their informal businesses, financial capital support options, micro-loans, more robust market access, and business mentorship that spans the whole stage from ideation to sustainability.
Kapatid Angat Lahat will facilitate how large corporations can help MSMEs scale up their operations. The concept of big companies coming to the aid of MSMEs is not new. Many large Filipino companies are already sharing their technologies and helping SMEs scale up. We see this in retail/wholesale, manufacturing and services, and now we need to do more of this and replicate it in industries that can create so much more impact, especially in the countryside. Agriculture, as an employment segment, accounts for the most number of jobs in the country: 11.8 million jobs, in fact.
MSME growth is our collective growth. That is why our battle cry is ‘Pilipinas Angat Lahat’ or Prosperity for All.
We need only see the success stories among our MSMEs to see how much we can gain. During the event, we will honor 10 inspiring entrepreneurs from all over the Philippines. These are the examples we wish to show our big brothers, to reinforce that there is hope, and that this cause is worthwhile. And these are the stories we wish for other entrepreneurs to know, to inspire them that their reach should exceed their grasp, that aspiring for something beyond profit is worthwhile, even if it seems impossible.
We are talking about inspiring entrepreneurs like Gary Ayuste of Leyte who raises bees and opens his farm to visitors so people can learn how pollination is an important part of our ecosystem. Another entrepreneur, Irene Villaespin, a former pharma salesperson, saw how she can contribute to reducing plastic waste by coming up with her own plastic packaging-free line of personal and home products. Shawnie Dale Bitso of Benguet saw the need to reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture and now recycles agricultural waste to make fruiting bags, saving hundreds of trees and recycling tons of waste in the process.
Then we have entrepreneurs who help other entrepreneurs, like Monaliza Martinez who found a locally sourced air-dried clay material formula to help her fellow microentrepreneurs in Cavite who can’t afford ovens to make their souvenir products.
Then we have entrepreneurs who contribute to our sense of nation by showcasing the best of Filipino products. People like Erika Pereña, who makes premium pili nut-based products from her hometown in Bicol; and Jerry Urriquia who parlayed his love of travel and food by coming up first with a pasalubong store that sells products from all over the Philippines, and who now has his own line of food products, also based on local produce from Laguna.
And then there are the social entrepreneurs like Concepcion Macalintal who showcases the craftsmanship of local soapmakers through her brand of personal care products; and Cherrilyn Casuga whose integrated farm school in Davao gives hope to small farmers and out-of-school youths by giving them access to agribusiness education.
Resilience, grit, and determination are showcased in entrepreneurs like Rona Denque, who fought an uphill battle when she introduced fresh mushrooms to the local market in Bohol and now has successfully founded a restaurant that features mushrooms.
Teofanie Tutanes of Sultan Kudarat spent years as a government nurse and is now in a totally different field of coffee farming and trading, eventually being able to help thousands of coffee farmers through 10 coffee organizations in Mindanao.
From these Filipino entrepreneurs, we can already see how big business can contribute, and in the end create a virtuous cycle that will generate more jobs for everyone. Our most valuable resource are our people. Provide them the means to prosperity, and we, as a country, gain so much more.