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Last Monday, we had our first 15th anniversary episode under the theme, Go Negosyo: Then and now. In the special Mentor ME Online episode, pioneer advocates Rosalind Wee of W Group, Johnlu Koa of French Baker, and Tommanny Tan of FERN shared their stories as part of our mentor network. We also had entrepreneurs who were previously featured on Go Negosyo TV: Butch Salvador of Car Magic and Macky Bongabong, a visual artist from Mindanao.
The episode was live streamed on Go Negosyo’s Facebook page, which reached 67,000 people and garnered 18,200 in total views. At its peak, we had 1,000 live viewers. Allow me to share the highlights of the episode.
Rosalind Wee started from humble beginnings. A teacher at Xavier School, Rosalind entered the marine products business to manufacture carrageenan, a type of seaweed used as a food ingredient. Since then, her family’s seaweed brand, Rico Carrageenan, has grown into a world-class business, and they’ve purchased urban property space as part of their expansion.
In her lectures for Go Negosyo, Rosalind encourages entrepreneurs to enter the dynamic seaweed business. “If you ask me where my six buildings in Bonifacio (Global City) came from, it came from seaweed. That’s why I go all over the Philippines to tell people: we have 7,000 islands. Anywhere, you can have seaweed. That’s one of the businesses they should go into.”
Johnlu Koa, the man behind French Baker and Chatime Philippines, was introduced to Go Negosyo through Sec. Ramon “Mon” Lopez. Mon, then the executive director of Go Negosyo, asked Johnlu whether he wanted to be part of the Go Negosyo movement. Without hesitation, Johnlu said yes.
“Go Negosyo gave us this opportunity to be with the less fortunate, our small entrepreneurs. Binigyan tayo ng chance na for one short moment, one window to understand ano bang situation nila and how we could help them with their situation. I have been to Legazpi, Camarines, Baguio – at least 15 other places with Go Negosyo,” he said.
“I wish to congratulate Joey. Fifteen years is a long time; 15 years is not easy. The passion that Joey gave Go Negosyo is infectious. Sana another 15 more years, another 50 more years. Maybe younger people with more ideas, with more passion, with more energy can bring Go Negosyo to a higher place.”
On the other hand, I got to know Tommanny Tan, the founder of FERN, differently. We first met when I handed him the MVP Bossing Award back in 2011. After the award ceremony, Mon Lopez got in touch with Tommanny and invited him to our mentoring caravans nationwide.
“The first event they invited me to was Baguio, then Cagayan de Oro. Ang dami ko ring nagawang talk for Go Negosyo. Always si Sec. Mon Lopez yung nag-invite,” he recalled, adding that it was a gratifying experience to help students and former OFWs start their business.
“I have a lot of love, respect, and gratitude to Go Negosyo as an organization, to the group of mentors, especially Joey. He led the way during this pandemic when a lot of people didn’t know what to do. I was very happy to be part of Project ARK, na makatulong to import yung mga rapid tests, to be given the chance to contribute also to the local government. ‘Pag tinawagan ako ng Go Negosyo, basta nasa Pilipinas ako, laging yes.”
Macky Bongabong is a talented artist who used to sell his artworks on Davao’s streets for P350 to P500 a piece. He was discovered by a member of the presidential team and his painting of the President is now on display at the Palace.
“Then nakita ako ni Sir Joey at ng Go Negosyo. I just shared my story sa SM Lanang, a fisherman’s son, and then going to Davao, yung damit ko tatlo lang. Pagshare ko sa Go Negosyo team, I just poured out my heart. Naiyak ako kasi I came from nothing,” he recalled.
In the years that followed, Macky slowly grew his savings until he was able to buy his own lot. “Go Negosyo really helped me ma-discover. I worked hard sa craft ko. I connected with amazing people. I just want to thank you, Sir Joey Concepcion, for believing in me.”
Butch Salvador, the owner of Car Magic, was invited by Mon Lopez to be a part of our mentor network almost 10 years ago.“When they started KMME, I got the call. Sabi nila, we’re going to Batanes. That was the start. We’ve been sent to different places from Batanes to Legazpi to Tuguegarao. Dinala ko na yung puso na meron si Sir Joey at Sir Mon to teach, since it’s also my passion,” he said.
For the past 15 years, Go Negosyo has touched the lives of countless individuals – whether it’s through mentors like Rosalind, Johnlu, Tommanny, and Butch, or recipients like Macky. We will continue to create opportunities for everyone. Rest assured that we will not stop until every Filipino has a chance to succeed in both business and life.