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Along with the merriment that comes with the holidays, we celebrate Christmas because of a very special birth. The birth of the Savior brought hope and it changed the world.
A birth always brings hope. Parents, and even grandparents, know this. I would dare say it even extends to new entrepreneurs when they see their ideas take shape and come to life. It’s always an exciting time and a privilege to be a witness to the process, as we are in Go Negosyo when we help new enterprises and then later nurture them to growth. We see in the entrepreneurs the same thing we see in new parents: the sense of purpose, the determination to be better, and that extra push to overcome whatever awaits.
Christmas inspires moments of reflection, and as we turn toward a new year, it prompts me to contemplate on the past and the blessings and challenges it brought. The season inspires people to reach out and reconnect, and that in itself sets us on that path toward reflection and re-examination.
Just recently, for example, I received a wonderful note from one of the graduates of our Go Negosyo programs and the KaMasa baking and entrepreneurship workshops at RFM.
In her note, our graduate thanked us for these programs and for teaching her everything she needed to know about bread. She said that through our programs, her passion for entrepreneurship was ignited, spurring her to expand her knowledge of business and baking. She has now taken over from her retired parents and even runs her own business. Along with the note came samples of her line of baked goods, including crinkles cookies and red velvet cream cheese brownies – all very well-made and branded like a pro.
What is striking about her note was that she also viewed entrepreneurship as a way to help more people. I am glad that, in addition to having taught her about the basics of starting and running a business, we were also able to imbue that sense of responsibility for other people: the realization that success becomes more meaningful when it improves the lives of others.
Entrepreneurs, like new parents, are perennial optimists. It is one of the reasons I believe that they will be indispensable as the country moves forward. The Philippines has always been challenged with various problems. These problems have been there before and no doubt there will be new ones to replace, or add to them. I find, however, that the big difference is in how we look at these problems and how we resolve to go and find solutions to them. We can’t keep blaming the government. That energy is better spent becoming change-makers in whatever capacity and level of influence we have at our disposal.
This is, of course, easier said than done because moving forward amidst all the challenges we now face takes a lot of work and determination. We sometimes see hope as this warm, wonderful thing, but for many who struggle, it is sweat and tears. It is planting your palms to the ground so you can push as hard as you can so you can get back up again and fight.
The problems don’t get any easier as your business grows. On a higher level, you are faced with even more difficult decisions. The stakes become higher because there is more money involved and there are more lives that will be affected. Veteran entrepreneurs and businessmen have the advantage of having more years of practice and, hopefully, having already identified their North, their fixed point where all their values and goals align, making it much easier to decide which direction to take. This can take years, but it’s worth it.
My fixed point is caring for what my father and grandfather have built, and protecting the good name they passed on to us. This has grown over the past 17 years into taking on the advocacy of Go Negosyo and giving my time and resources to the public sector in my capacity as an adviser. This I do so that others can have a chance to build their own legacies and pass it on to their children.
Reflecting back on my journey as an entrepreneur, building brands like Selecta and Sarsi, and sometimes making the difficult decision of what to keep and what to let go, I find that having one’s values well-defined is a big help. But always, it will be fueled by that aspiration for a future that is better. It helps to have people around who just go and put one foot in front of the other, because it inspires others to do the same. We all move forward and it keeps us from stalling and stumbling.
We must continue to bring hope and optimism to our countrymen, especially the micro and small entrepreneurs. They face more challenges than those who have more in life, and most of all, they are the brave ones who have chosen to better their lives and contribute to building our economy.
Let’s start the New Year by being prophets of hope. Merry Christmas, dear readers.