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Long before I founded Go Negosyo 17 years ago, OFWs have been powering the Philippine economy for many years. Our migrant workers saw us through many economic crises, rightly earning the title of modern-day heroes. As we continued Go Negosyo’s advocacy to promote entrepreneurship in the Philippines, we found that not a few of the MSMEs we helped grow were the ventures of OFWs who dreamt of a life of financial security for their families back home.
Our efforts at Go Negosyo have borne fruit and now we have several programs that zero in on specific aspects of the MSME sector in the country. And now, as we exit the pandemic, we find that these two sectors – MSMEs and OFWs – will be the ones helping guide our economy. I suppose it is only fitting – and so telling of the times – that Go Negosyo marks its 17th anniversary with the two major drivers of the Philippine economy at center stage: MSMEs and OFWs.
This Dec. 3, at the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall in Pasay City we will hold the Kabayan 2022, for our country’s modern heroes, the OFWs. We have chosen as our theme, “Kabuhayan, Kinabukasan at Kaagapay ng Pamilyang OFW” to highlight how central the family is in every migrant worker’s story.
Beyond just being a venue for OFWs and their families to begin their journey toward entrepreneurship, Kabayan 2022 recognizes the importance of digital technology and how it can be leveraged to the advantage of many MSMEs in developing their businesses.
Entrepreneurship, OFWs, and digital technology, are a natural fit. At the height of the pandemic, OFWs sent home $31.4 billion, even more than the $29.9 million they sent in 2020. Analysts explain that the absence of disruption in remittances, even with the mobility restrictions, was made possible because of the readiness of the Philippine economy to transact digitally. Before the pandemic, the groundwork was already there to afford cashless transactions. And Filipinos being digital-savvy, it was not difficult for them to receive remittances, pay for bills, and even conduct their small businesses online.
Kabayan 2022 will be quite an event. Small Laude, the breakout star of vlogging during the pandemic, will join us there. She is living proof that anybody, rich or poor, young or old, can become an influencer. She and her 1.55 million followers on Youtube should inspire everyone out there to try out vlogging, and who knows where that will lead.
We will be fortunate that her sister, Alice Eduardo, the founder, president and CEO of Sta. Elena Construction and Development Corp., will also be on hand to lend support to our OFWs and MSMEs. She will join two more women CEOs in the business of events management (Rebecca Bustamante) and skincare (Glenda dela Cruz) in a forum on entrepreneurial success.
Small is only one of the superstar influencers we will have during the event. Macoy Dubs, Lovely Abella-Mabalo, Berto Berioso, Ana Coting and Christian Antolin will share with us during an Influencers Forum, insights on the power of digital media and influencer marketing.
Homegrown entrepreneurs/social media content creators who have used social media to grow their small businesses will join us in another forum to show how MSMEs can start using social media to promote their businesses. In this forum will be Zarah Juan, Malou Prado, Jeffrey Guansing, Jacqueline Yuentian Gutierrez and Neri Miranda. Their businesses range from cosmetics to travel to agriculture, while some of them have managed to combine several businesses all in one go.
On the more serious side of things, we will have the leading lights of our MSME advocacy to join us in a forum that explores the mentorship, money and market business solutions and opportunities for MSMEs, OFWs and their families – or what we call the 3 M’s of successful entrepreneurship. Philippine Franchise Association’s Sherill Quintana, Philippine Retailers Association’s Bing Limjoco, CARD-MRI’s Jaime Alip, and ASEAN Business Awards 2022 winner Raj Uttamchandani, the CEO of MSME lending specialist Esquire Financing, will be there. Motivational speaker and author Chinkee Tan will speak on financial literacy and making smart investments, an important topic considering many of our OFWs and their families are often the target of dubious investment schemes.
We will also be joined by a very special guest who will no doubt boost the confidence we have that MSMEs, OFWs, and digitalization will lead the way as we build our economy in the years to come. He will be joined by Migrant Worker Sec. Susan Ople and Trade Sec. Alfredo Pascual. And to set the tone for the day, Dean Henry Tenedero will speak on building the entrepreneurial mindset.
Apart from the summit, the event will be an opportunity to recognize the Most Inspiring OFWs through Kabayan Awards 2022. We will honor during this event OFWs who are an inspiration to fellow Filipinos with their compelling journey as migrant workers, OFWs who have successfully transitioned to becoming entrepreneurs, and OFWs who used social media to become influencers to the overseas Filipino community. These specially selected Inspiring OFWs will be recognized during the awarding ceremony held as part of Kabayan 2022.
OFWs were our lifeline during the pandemic. Amidst the disruption, they were a steady, reassuring beacon. What we all want for our OFWs is for them to come home and enjoy the fruits of their labor with their families. With hope, the event will be a great opportunity not only to recognize our nation’s modern heroes, but also to make it easier for them to join in the economic development of our country. By helping OFWs in their journey toward entrepreneurship, we ensure that their efforts and hard-earned capital are safely and professionally guided.