Let’s get in touch.
We’d love to hear from you.
Last Dec. 21’s episode of our Facebook Live show Go Negoshow was an emotional one for me. I was holding back tears as I listened to the stories of five small entrepreneurs, joining them as they recalled how circumstances prodded them to explore entrepreneurship as a way to improve their lives. One of them was laid off during the pandemic, one lost his job even before the lockdowns, one was an OFW who was repatriated, while two were simply inspired by what they saw was an opportunity to uplift their lives.
A common thread among them was the determination to succeed. Whether it’s finding a better marinade recipe for barbecued meat or a better way to bake bread or how to sell a single kaing of mangoes to recoup a P2,000 initial investment, these negosyantes all showed grit, and a willingness to learn.
Another was optimism. I have always maintained that you cannot succeed going through life as a pessimist, most especially if you are an entrepreneur. In the Philippines’ case, I pray that we remain optimists. There are about 26 million Filipinos still living in poverty, unable to meet their basic food and non-food needs. This represents nearly a fourth of our entire population, and I have made it my business to help change that landscape through my advocacy for entrepreneurship.
Among Filipinos, the desire to improve one’s lot is there, and I think that, coupled with optimism, it’s a powerful combination. A recent survey by our friends at OCTA Research found that 81 percent of adult Filipinos would prefer to go into business, granting that they had enough knowhow to do so. Across socioeconomic classes, that desire remains high at 80 percent among classes ABC and D, and 74 percent from class E.
So what’s holding them back? Aside from lacking enough knowhow, a big majority believe that a small business needs capital the most to grow or to get started. Also, the majority of them also think that the provision of capital is the kind of government support that small entrepreneurs need the most. Mentorship, or guidance and instruction, is also considered by a majority of the respondents to be a very important component for a small business to become more successful.
The respondents described two of the three pillars of our advocacy at Go Negosyo: access to money and mentoring, the third pillar being access to markets. The OCTA Research survey found that more than half of the respondents are aware of my advocacy at Go Negosyo. I, myself, am glad that our advocacy continues to bear fruit 17 years after we started. This is so important because it builds the MSME’s trust in the private sector and the willingness to work with the government. Trust is a key component to our current push for Go Negosyo’s Kapatid Angat Lahat program, where we try to connect small entrepreneurs with big-brother companies in the private sector, and where the support of local governments is crucial. We have already started the ball rolling by identifying big-brother agri companies who can and are willing to integrate small and medium businesses into their value chain. We will soon begin similar efforts in the retail sector.
Small negosyantes will find it hard to make it on their own. The ones we had on our show were able to start and improve their businesses with the help of others. The repatriated OFW benefited from government assistance and from the training provided by TESDA. The barbecue entrepreneur benefited from the advice given by our mentors to give her products some branding to help sales and encourage quality control. Even the small capital we gave all of these negosyantes as thanks for sharing their stories will no doubt go a long way to improving their businesses.
What makes me even happier is that the significance of what they do as entrepreneurs is not lost on them. One of the entrepreneurs we had on that episode of Go Negoshow was a young man who, for his birthday, bought a freezer because he lived in a remote fishing village that was a ready market for frozen goods, which is a rarity in his barangay. But beyond that, he also saw it as an opportunity to provide ice to the fishermen in his community, and help prolong the shelf life of their catch.
It jibes with the OCTA Research finding that the majority of the survey respondents think that the positive impact on the community is the main reason to support and favor small businesses. A majority also believe that supporting the local community and creating more jobs are the main reasons to support and favor small businesses. Again, this goes hand-in-hand with my assertion that MSMES and job creation are interrelated. And that helping MSMEs will create a substantial impact in terms of job creation as they generate more than 62 percent of jobs in the country.
The work will continue as we cross over to 2023. Next year will bring more challenges; that is almost always a certainty. We can’t control what difficulties the coming year will bring, but we can face it with hope.