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For the past 12 years, the Go Negosyo advocacy has been focused on mentorship as it is evident in the success of many entrepreneurs. The Go Negosyo program today, with the Department of Trade and Industry led by Sec. Ramon Lopez who was part of Go Negosyo for many years, understands the power of mentorship.
I owe my own personal success to my primary mentors – my parents Joecon and Marivic. They, too, were mentored by their parents who lived a happy married life and were equally successful in business and advocacy work. My grandfather, Jose Concepcion Sr. started Concepcion Industries.
My mother’s parents Salvador Araneta and Victoria Lopez-Araneta both started different ventures — the former started RFM Corporation, the first flour mill in the country, while the latter started Feati University and Feati bank which became City Trust. Both were involved in philanthropy – my grandmother started White Cross and my grandfather served the government. Their values and characteristics were passed on to my parents and now to me.
One of the best lessons I learned from them is the value of family and maintaining a long and happy marriage. My parents, who recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, are one of the few couples who lived a happy married life. They have conquered their trials together. In their celebration of their six decades of marriage, they thanked the Lord for the many years spent growing in love for each other and for service. “Our life has been blessed with many happy memories, good health, good friends, sufficiency of material goods, and an abundance of love for one another. Dear Lord, thank You for all these, Grant that, like your faithful disciples, we may show our love for You by loving and serving one another and others with a selfless love.”
I am proud to say that I was mentored well by my parents for they too experienced great mentorship. This is why I, together with the Go Negosyo community, am pushing for the value of mentorship to micro and small entrepreneurs.
Apart from our ongoing initiatives to help areas of extreme poverty and conflict, we are still in touch with the roots of our advocacy – empowering micro and small entrepreneurs.
August last year, we launched the Go Negosyo Kapatid project to help contribute to the micro and small entrepreneurs’ development program of the government. Under Kapatid, Mentor ME was launched as a joint-program of Go Negosyo and the DTI led by Sec. Lopez. Since 2016, we’ve started launching the program in different cities and municipalities in the Philippines.
Since then, we have met passionate individuals who became mentees. Some graduated along with the other first batch of mentees and some will soon graduate. What is common in these people is their desire to scale up – to become successful. They are eager to learn and apply the lessons they learned. Some of the first batch of graduates from their respective KMME programs made incredible growth.
One of the mentees, Ester Perez, was an employee turned entrepreneur. After many years of hard work, she retired in 2009 and decided to try her luck in entrepreneurship. With an initial capital of P150,000, she started a small bakeshop producing pan de sal. Eventually, she started innovating her products. She added biscocho in different flavors, which became their champion product. Because of her active participation in seminars and trainings provided by DTI, she became one of the first mentees of the Mentor ME in Zamboanga City. After 10 weekly modules, Ester was proud to say that she was inspired by the mentors to pursue her own success despite the challenges that came her way. After attending KMME, her business grew. She expanded her market, continuously innovated products, trained her personnel, and employed additional staff to support the demand.
Another mentee is Gabriela Jimeno of KGD Infinite Fashion. Despite having no business or fashion background, she pursued her passion for fashion accessories. She initially started as an exporter of shell buttons and fashion accessories in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, the business failed. She then ventured into production of native delicacies. But still the income was not enough for her family. And then, with P1,000, she again started her fashion accessories business. After attending local trade fairs and expos, she opened a kiosk and employed 20 workers to help create chic necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Prior to being a mentee, Gabriela lacked knowledge in financial management, people management, marketing, and innovation. However, as a result of the program, she has learned how to plan and manage her business well. She has already employed more personnel and expanded her business.
Mary Ann Eustaquio initially wanted to pursue her great grandfather’s leather goods business, but she realized it would have a slow turnover of money. She and her husband, Alan, then decided to think of other products made out of cow’s skin. This resulted to the conception of beef chicharon. Despite the new concept, the couple still continued to look for expansion. When their province had a scarcity on balut or duck egg, they pursued duck farming with an initial 730 ducklings. Since then, they sought assistance from different government agencies, including DTI. Because of this, they became an active participant of seminars and trainings, including KMME. Mary Ann was motivated by one of the KMME mentors to keep on persevering. She added that through KMME, many doors of opportunities opened. They are now on their way to expanding their duck farm and planning for their leather factory through the loan assistance they recently received from Landbank of the Philippines.
Coming from a Yakan community, Angelita Ilul was equipped with weaving skills since childhood. To them, weaving is not just a hobby but a proof of the community’s artistry. She started weaving bags, table runners, placemats, coasters and wall decors in 1983. But because of financial problems, the business had to stop. She then worked abroad for a few years and returned after saving enough money for capital. Angie’s Yakan Cloth business is one of the beneficiaries of DTI’s Cottage Industry Technology Center which promotes small scale industries for employment and livelihood in communities. Because of this, she became a KMME mentee. After studying the modules, she learned important marketing strategies, and proper costing and pricing. After learning the essentials in business, she joined several trade fairs and generated a large income afterwards. Currently, she is planning to exhibit Yakan products to the international market.
Last but not the least is Arnold Sotto who is also called the Sampaloc King of Zamboanga. Sotto’s Delicacies started in the early ’90s producing yemas and sampalok candies. They used simple packaging and labels then. Additionally, they experienced several challenges including the lack of raw materials, bad clients, and mismanaged finances. During the course of KMME, Arnold said that the modules on product development, human resource management, business mindset, accounting, and supply value chain were the topics that made the most impact on his business. Currently, his company plans to expand in Metro Manila with the help of a loan from the Small Business Corporation.
These are just some of the inspiring stories of our Mentor ME mentees. Despite challenges, they pursued and are continuously aiming for growth and success. We hope their growth will be nonstop – from micro and small businesses to the next medium and large enterprises. This is the real goal for Mentor ME – to equip MSMEs with business skills and acumen that would help them better manage their enterprises.