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Time flies by so fast. The “ber” months have already started, but it seems like it was just yesterday that we packed our bags and headed to the first destination for our 2011 Go Negosyo–DTI Provincial Caravan. This series of Negosems, aimed at further spreading the entrepreneurship advocacy in all parts of the country, is just one of our major projects this year in an effort to reach out to more Filipinos who need inspiration and empowerment the most.
In previous columns, I gave you a glimpse of the noble work of negosyantes in Bukidnon and Mindoro who are greatly contributing to the development of their respective regions through their own negosyos. For our next stop, Go Negosyo flew to Western Visayas to meet the entreps who are doing the same for Region VI; and for a day filled with learning in the province of Antique.
Heavy rains poured that day, but despite the bad weather, more than 350 participants still came to join us for our Negosem at the CAP Auditorium in San Jose, the capital of Antique. Go Negosyo’s very own executive director Mon Lopez welcomed the aspiring negosyantes and the SMEs who were very eager to learn more about entrepreneurship and how they can improve their existing businesses. He made the most out of the visit and gave talks on marketing essentials and how negosyantes can further develop their products and services. Also with us during the trip was franchise guru and Angelpreneur Armando “Butz” Bartolome, who enlightened Antiqueños on the importance of a positive mindset and spotting business opportunities. He, of course, also answered inquiries from participants on franchising. There was also a forum that featured successful and inspiring negosyantes from both Antique and the neighboring province of Iloilo.
We are grateful to the local government of the province of Antique, especially to Gov. Exequiel “Boy-ex” Javier, for accommodating Go Negosyo and being one with us in the advocacy of promoting entrepreneurship, and for supporting Filipino entrepreneurs in their locality. And of course, Go Negosyo would not be able to reach out to as many people without the help of the DTI led by Dominic Abad, regional director for Region VI.
Without them, we wouldn’t have the chance to meet these wonderful negosyantes who are making a difference in their own ways through negosyo.
Melben Bandiola, owner of Benz Bandi, is a great example of an entrepreneur successfully earning a good living by making the most of the province’s main product. He manufactures bandi, a confectionery made from muscovado, which is the OTOP of Antique. Benz has been producing bandi for 10 years now and he has no plans of giving up this negosyo, which he learned and inherited from his mother. According to Benz, it helps provide for his family’s needs and is sending his seven kids to school.
Aside from making his sweets the way his mother used to, Benz’s secret to his success is really hard work and perseverance. He revealed one of the reasons why his bandi is known and in demand even in Antique is that he was never reluctant to market it anywhere he could sell his product.
Another famous negosyo in the region is Tibiao Fish Spa by Flord Nicson Calawag, a fisheries technologist whose passion for fish made him into a successful entrepreneur. Flord shared that it all started when he discovered a fish that nibbles on dead skin cells in the mountains of Tibiao. This discovery led him to the concept of the fish spa — a luxury spa treatment famous in Europe and other parts of Asia. He then realized that it could be a great negosyo that would allow him to explore his interest in marine life as well as help in the development of his own province.
Since its establishment in 2009, Tibiao Fish Spa has gained a strong following among locals and has caught the attention of foreign visitors. Today, Tibiao Fish Spa has other branches in Iloilo and Boracay. It has also earned international praise for being the most affordable fish spa in the world. Flord noted that he considers making the fish spa more affordable for Filipinos to enjoy as one of his advocacies. Another advocacy he is supporting is tourism development in the region. In order to intensify tourism in Tibiao, Flord also started offering Tibiao Adventure Tours, which not only gives Antique visitors relaxation at the fish spa but also allows clients to experience trekking, kayaking, pottery-making and lambaklad fishing.
People in Region VI are naturally entrepreneurial but because of the provinces’ agricultural setting, negosyantes are limited to what they have grown accustomed to. This is the reason why cooperatives, associations or groups that give assistance to local negosyantes are thriving in the region, especially in the province of Antique. The Antique Federation of Credit Cooperatives, Inc. (AFCCUI) is one of those groups that teach its members how to develop and market their products, as well as extend financial assistance to those who want to expand their negosyo.
Richard Montero, marketing officer of AFFCUI, shared that the group was organized in 1968 as a solution to the lack of livelihood and financial assistance for locals in Antique. He explained that apart from empowering small entrepreneurs in the province, AFFCUI also helps in marketing the items produced in the region. The cooperative runs pasalubong centers in Antique that sell various products from the entire province such as bags, shawls, pure honey, native cacao, and muscovado sugar, among others. These pasalubong stores not only showcase what the province has to offer but also generate funds that will be used to help more entrepreneurs.
Another group of negosyantes, this time female, called the Buri Handicraft Association, Inc., is also making a big impact on the livelihood industry in Antique. The group is composed of mothers who make native hats, bags, purses and decorative items out of the native plant called buri. The group’s objective is to help women in the province earn extra income to help supply the needs of their families. Part of the association’s program is to train women to market and put more value into their products. Buri Handicraft Association manager Merlyn Sorilla shared that before the formation of the group in 2000, the women used to sell their hats for only P10 each. Today, because of the group’s guidance, the women can now earn as much as P70 for the same kind of hat. Their products have also been introduced to a wider clientele from different parts of the country and even from overseas.
Merlyn revealed the group currently has more than 60 members, who are mostly weavers from the mountains. She added the group is proud that it’s not only providing livelihood to more families, it’s also empowering and encouraging the women, who are mostly stay-at-home mothers, to help out and contribute to the development of their communities.
Contact me at email@example.com or my Joey Concepcion Facebook account. Visit www.gonegosyo.net. Watch the top-rating entrep show Go Negosyo: Kaya Mo! on GMA News TV every Saturday and Sunday at 8-8:30 a.m. Get daily Go Negosyo Text Tips on your mobile phone by sending GONEGO to 2910. Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/gonegosyoofficial.