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The Go Negosyo advocacy has been around for seven years, and I can say that we have touched thousands of Filipinos and inspired them to fulfill their dreams in life. They might have heard of us from our annual summits, or because of a caravan that we have done in their province in the past. And we always welcome invitations from other institutions and sectors of society in order to continue spreading the message that, through a positive attitude, hard work, and faith in God, success can be achieved.
That is why we were happy when we got a letter from Ambassador Corazon Yap-Bahjin, who asked us to bring the Negosem to the Kingdom of Bahrain. She felt that knowledge about starting a business is best shared with our Overseas Filipino Workers, who are trying to endure being away from their loved ones just to give them a comfortable life. As our OFWs grow older, it becomes more important to put their hard-earned money to good use. This is where Go Negosyo comes in — to help them decide what to do with their resources, and encourage them to set up their own businesses, where they can earn and be closer to their families at the same time.
“Go Negosyo sa Bahrain” was held in two half-day sessions, and more than 300 OFWs attended each session. I was told that several days prior to the event, the tickets were already sold out. We flew in our Angelpreneurs Mike Lobrin, Pax Lapid, Reuel Virtucio and Butz Bartolome to cover various topics in entrepreneurship. Mike Lobrin inspired the OFWs to have the proper mindset. Pax Lapid took on the topic of money management, while Reuel Virtucio discussed product development and marketing. Finally, Butz Bartolome talked about franchising as one of the options that OFWs have if they decide to get into business.
Our team was amazed at how the participants remained seated throughout the sessions. Those who attended have been in Bahrain for a while, having stayed there between two and 20 years. We even had participants who flew in from Oman the night before. While the majority of the participants were OFWs whose families are in the Philippines, there are some who were lucky enough to be together with their husbands and wives in Bahrain. We even spotted a couple of Filipinas who brought along their foreigner husbands to attend the Negosem.
At one of the dinners hosted for Go Negosyo, our team met a remarkable Filipina named Ellen Jumaquin who owns Chuckay, a small but popular Filipino restaurant in Bahrain. She has been there for around 20 years, where she first started as a helper. One day, two of her friends separately asked for her help because they were trying to set up their own businesses. She then paired them up and assisted them to establish a negosyo, which became successful soon after. One of them, a Bahraini, was so grateful to Ellen that she offered Ellen assistance if she wanted to establish her own business.
This is where she considered the offer. Ellen admitted her love for cooking. After much thought, she decided to put up a Filipino restaurant, as she related to most of her kababayans who frequently miss the taste of Filipino food. As expected, her entrepreneurial journey was filled with challenges. She was doing business in a foreign land, and she had limited capital to work with. But she did not give up. It helped that she loved what she was doing. Today, she and her husband run the restaurant together, and it has become the go-to place for people craving authentic Filipino food. More than that, Ellen offers home delivery and takeaway services, and they now supply food to supermarkets.
I am glad that the advocacy that we started seven years ago was able to reach out to our OFWs. Hearing stories like Ellen’s inspires us to spread the message even further. We are planning to do another Negosem in Oman, or if possible, do a full Middle East caravan. But let us all remember that success is for those who want it. Go Negosyo will be more than willing to guide aspiring negosyantes, yet the rest will be up to each one of us, on how we would fuel our passion and work hard to reach our goals. I am positive that the OFWs in Bahrain whose lives we have touched will actually put into practice what they have learned.