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Inspiration can come from anywhere. And last March 1, it came from the women entrepreneurs and enablers who participated in Go Negosyoâ€™s 5th Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit at the World Trade Center Manila. The halls were packed with more than 3,000 participants who are either students, women groups from local government units, and aspiring entrepreneurs. We are glad that despite the years, the advocacy continues to come on strong as we fulfill our goal of teaching the entrepreneurial attitude to Filipinos.
In my opening speech, I mentioned that we are really happy as more and more women are embracing entrepreneurship as a means to fight misery and poverty. The outstanding women negosyantes that we will award during the summit are not just there to be recognized because of how big their businesses have grown. They are there to share their stories and inspire other women to be more hopeful and positive in life. If you ask me, the real challenge of entrepreneurs is how other Filipinos who are not as blessed can replicate their success. Through these initial efforts of inspiring and empowering the poor, we will definitely break the wall of pessimism and help them as they help themselves.
After my speech, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago gave a very informative keynote address about the gender gap, women entrepreneurship, and political dynasties, which was very timely considering that this is an election year. She was very concerned that women are not well-represented in the government sector, and this leads to the lack of laws that can help women as they try to involve themselves in areas like entrepreneurship. Santiago then suggested several policies such as exempting underprivileged women from securing business permits, which I feel would make life a little bit easier for our aspiring women negosyantes as they start their own businesses. At the end of the day, the efforts of organizations like Go Negosyo to teach the enterprising mindset will need the support of the government in the form of sound policies, in order for our dream of a poverty-free country to be achieved.
We then awarded the three Go Negosyoâ€™s Women Entrepreneurship Icons and the 12 Filipina Entrepreneurs of 2013, whom I featured in my last column. The mere presence of Nanay Coring Ramos, Esther Vibal, and Helen Benitez, who went to personally receive their awards, was truly inspiring. I was able to chat with them for a few minutes before the summit started, and they told me that the best way for a person to succeed in business and in life is to be actively involved in their respective endeavors. If other people would follow their advice, more entrepreneurs would surely attain success. Some of the women awardees like Siu Ping Par, Dr. Eleanor Tan, Tina Maristela-Ocampo, Dr. Vivian Sarabia, Fe Agudo, Glenda Barretto, Charita Puentespina, and Preciosa Soliven stayed on to participate in the summitâ€™s first forum. They shared how they started their entrepreneurial journey, the challenges they had to overcome, and the steps they took to get to where they are. The panelists truly had inspiring stories, and many of the audience members grabbed the opportunity to ask questions. After all, this is a rare chance for women of their caliber to sit down together and talk.
Two more forum sessions followed in the afternoon. The second forum featured Joy Abaquin (Multiple Intelligence International School), Elma Arboleras (iBus), Christine Bersola-Babao (TV personality), Chit Juan (ECHOstore), Willen Ma (Masuki), Jaymie Crisostomo (The Bull Runner), Janice Villanueva (Mommy Mundo), Krie Lopez (Messy Bessy), and Grace Poe (former MTRCB chairperson), who came all the way from a sortie in Pampanga just to participate in the summit. These women, who are all from different backgrounds such as IT, social entrepreneurship, media, and education, recalled how they were able to sustain their respective enterprises despite the problems they faced. During the discussion, we got interesting facts about panelists such as Grace Poe, who shared that her father was an entrepreneur at heart aside from being a famous action star, and Tintin Babao, who mentioned that her entrepreneurial spirit was honed by her mother, who was an entrepreneur herself.
Meanwhile, the third forum focused on younger women negosyantes and how they introduced innovations in their respective fields. We had Ana Amigo Antonio (Chocolate Clothing), Kellda Centeno (Adobo Connection), Clang Garcia (Jeepney Tours), Kim Lato (Kimstore), Sheila Lina (Shopinas), Roselin Gaw Pagunsan (Big Apple Express Spa), Mary Grace Santos (Liâ€™l People Enterprises), and Beryl Li (SeedAsia Philippines) as panelists. They explained that age or gender does not have anything to do with being successful entrepreneurs. In order to reach your dreams, you must exert a great amount of effort and be ready to endure sacrifices along the way.
While all of this was happening, members of the audience got to ask questions directly of the Go Negosyo Angelpreneurs, who readily assisted them with their inquiries. Thank you to our friends from the Womenâ€™s Business Council of the Philippines who also helped in the mentoring sessions.
Go Negosyo hopes to see more women entrepreneurs on the rise in the coming years. With passion, dedication, and the right attitude, our Filipinas will definitely contribute further to our economyâ€™s growth, and ultimately, they will lead the way towards progress.