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For the past 11 years, I have believed that Filipinos were never destined for poverty. Prosperity can be attained by those who want it most, and that success can be achieved with grit and passion.
After Go Negosyo reached a momentous decade of successfully igniting an entrepreneurial revolution, we now wish to level up the advocacy. It started with a wish and a prayer that with the next administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, he can appoint someone who is ready to fight for micro and small negosyantes. The big and established businesses can take care of themselves, but as I have said, we need a trade secretary who will share the same vision of Go Negosyo that prosperity is for all and not for a select few.
With Go Negosyo’s executive director Ramon Lopez as the next Department of Trade and Industry secretary, I can say that this is the beginning for MSMEs. Together with the entire entrepreneurship community, especially those who have been blessed with more, it is now time to give back and help the small and aspiring entrepreneurs who need it most. We can expect a DTI for MSMEs!
Let me share with you the thoughts of some Go Negosyo entrepreneurs and partners:
Vice President Leni Robredo: With his vast experience in business and the promotion of entrepreneurship in the country through Go Negosyo, I believe Mon Lopez has what it takes to be a successful trade secretary. Behind Joey Concepcion and Lopez’s stewardship, Go Negosyo has been at the forefront of helping small business endeavors in the country flourish. As I share the vision of business development as one of the weapons in combating poverty, there is no doubt that Lopez can steer DTI to greater heights and help continue sustain the momentum of the country’s economic growth in the next six years for our Filipino people.
Senator Cynthia Villar: Congratulations to Ramon Lopez on his appointment as secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry by President-elect Rodrigo Duterte. With him at the helm of DTI, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) will be assured of more support. We have a similar advocacy in helping MSMEs and in promoting entrepreneurship, particularly among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Go Negosyo, where he is executive director, is the partner of the Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance (Villar SIPAG) in our yearly OFW and Family Summit. I wish him all the best in his new endeavor.
Senator Sonny Angara: Mon’s appointment is very encouraging for our entrepreneurs and small businesses, having championed their cause for many years as director of Go Negosyo. Mon understands the various challenges and obstacles facing entrepreneurs and can help build a favorable ecosystem for them where there is mentoring, access to finance and assistance, and links to markets for their products. We hope he can help our creative people and help foster greater innovation in the economy. We are also hopeful that he can attract industries to invest and create jobs that our countrymen sorely need. We wish him the best and will be supportive of the department’s programs.
Former DILG Secretary Raffy Alunan: SMEs are the backbone of the micro-economy and the best vehicles for wealth creation, poverty reduction, inclusive growth and broad development in agriculture, aquaculture, manufacturing and services. What’s needed is an enabling environment to convert SMEs into a giant nation-building enterprise — capacity building, modern business toolkits such as info systems, modern technology, foreign partnerships, cheap medium- to long-term financing, insurance, tax incentives, etc. Demand crime and corruption reduction in real terms at the national and local levels to restore trust and confidence. This is all about nation-building for all Filipinos. Unity, solidarity and teamwork across the board and down the line are crucial. Upgrade long-range plans perhaps in 30 years, where in the first six years you lay new bricks and firm up existing foundations for expansion. Manufacture finished products to replace imports and for world markets where we have unique advantages, for starters. Support agro and ecotourism, build quality boats or small ships for commerce and leisure, primarily for our archipelagic use. My advice is to be a driving force, evade intrigue, stay healthy, keep President Duterte regularly informed, work closely with the banking industry, OP, DA, DOTC, DPWH, DOT, DOF, DILG, and DOJ. We are counting on him to change our socioeconomic profile.
Governor Amando Tetangco Jr.: Mon Lopez has not only the academic preparation for DTI secretary, but also considerable experience in growing businesses, particularly the MSME sector, which forms the backbone of Philippine industry. While the mandate of the DTI is broader than the MSME sector, his knowledge in dealing with the challenges of this sector — such as from entry of agents into the formal sector, funding and actually helping enterprises move up the value ladder — would clearly inform national trade policy. The BSP and DTI work closely on a number of initiatives that cover creating a regulatory environment that would be conducive to foreign investments, including developing a consistent data base for investments, enhancing consumer protection, improving financial education, and establishing an enabling environment for financial inclusion. We look forward to engaging the DTI under Mr. Lopez in this work.
Doris Ho: I have had the great privilege of working with incoming Secretary
Lopez throughout the 2015 APEC Philippine hosting year. Our theme was “inclusive growth” with a goal of bringing more MSMEs into global trade as a key economic growth driver for economies. We are so happy that President Duterte has appointed him as Secretary of Trade and Investment because he has a unique perspective on the different opportunities and challenges faced by both big and smaller business and entrepreneurs. I believe that he will bring substance to our country’s economic and business positioning, identifying our unique selling proposition to be a focused, globally competitive economy. With his heart clearly committed to inclusive business models, especially from his work with Joey Concepcion in Go Negosyo, we have no doubt that our dreams to bring more MSMES, including women and people with disabilities into trade through e-commerce, or to be part of global supply chains, or creators and innovators, will be a priority to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs. I wish Secretary Lopez all the best and offer all our support to him and to the Duterte administration.
Lance Gokongwei: Mon Lopez’s appointment as DTI sec was well received by the entire business community. For many years, together with Joey Concepcion and the Go Negosyo team, he has championed entrepreneurship in the country as a noble vocation. It’s appropriate because small and medium business is really the key driver of job creation and growth in any country. My suggestion would be to make it easier for businesses to comply with all the myriad permits and reports that businessmen have to submit, and increase cost and complexity, particularly for startups and small entrepreneurs.
Atty. Felipe Gozon: Having seen Mon Lopez perform, and achieve desired results over the years as executive director of Go Negosyo, not to mention his agreeable and approachable personality, I have no doubt that his appointment as DTI secretary will augur well for the country and our economy. He has the essential qualities, i.e., integrity, a genuine desire to serve the public, competence, patience, etc., that are needed to be a good public servant. Needless to say, as DTI secretary, Mon Lopez can be expected to promote our industries with more vigor and resources for the development, increase and success of MSMEs.
Senator Kiko Pangilinan: We welcome his appointment. The bulk of trade and business in the country comes from the SME sector. That’s where the battle to alleviate poverty lies and Mon has the experience and track record to deliver in this regard. He should ensure agri-business and agri-enterprise development is one major priority for him. It is the way to defeat poverty in the rural areas.
Former DTI Undersecretary Ernie Ordonez: Ramon Lopez has proven himself as a very competent manager. Even in his early years when he worked in our group at DTI, he was outstanding in his thoroughness and hard work, traits he brought with him in his subsequent, well-appreciated work. More importantly, he cares for the less privileged and does all he can to help them through SMEs. In Ramon, we have competence with a heart.
Felix Ang: I am personally very happy for Mon Lopez with his appointment as DTI secretary. His dedication and hard work with Go Negosyo has paved the way for this very important role in government. Clearly, he will be an advocate in driving support for MSMEs with much greater capacity and influence. We all would like to see small entrepreneurs achieve growth in their business activities, thereby generating more jobs for Filipinos. With his experience, qualifications and expertise, I am sure Mon will help realize “inclusive growth” for Filipinos as among his priorities. I wish him the very best!
Johnlu Koa: Mon Lopez can bring into DTI not only knowledge and competence but also a culture of professionalism and humility. He is always quick to think, quick to respond and quick to help. His service mentality and judiciousness can pave the way for the new administration to implement change in a manner that will be acceptable to the business community and the public at large.
Josiah Go: Mon Lopez is a great choice. He knows what businessmen need, how to encourage people to be entrepreneurs, and he is action-oriented. Most of all Mon is a good human being.
Samie Lim: President-elect Duterte has again demonstrated his uncanny insights in tackling an issue. He has picked the perfect man for the job. Everyone talks about the fact that more than 99 percent of the businesses are MSME, and that the fact that our economic growth has not trickled down efficiently. The simple truth is that the one-percent business elite runs the Philippine economy, with little real understanding of small businessmen. We have finally found a seasoned top executive who has had years of successfully dealing with the top 1,000 corporations, the international investors and at the same time feels at home working with business startups. His ability to get these two groups to work together for our country’s economic growth will bring us to new heights. My unsolicited suggestion: set an ambitious goal with the economic managers, plan for seven-, eight-, nine- and 10-percent growth in the next six years, rally and work closely with the private sector so our children will have the benefit of finally living in a “first world” country.
Cecilio Pedro: One-stop shop for registration of business permits to include all permits for local government. Too many regulators and red tape that hinder investment for SMEs.
Esther Vibal: Having personally worked with Mr. Lopez on many of his programs and initiatives during his watch as executive director of Go Negosyo, I know for a fact his immense knowledge of the business sector and excellent managerial skills will have a positive impact on us all. We expect great developments on the business front under him.
Henry Lim Bon Liong: Mon is the best man to head DTI; his passion over the past years in Go Negosyo promoting entrepreneurship has borne fruit as we are suddenly seeing a large number of emergent young entrepreneurs now. I’m sure the DTI under his tutorship will give MSME a big push. My best wishes for Mon.
Jimmy Ayala: Mon is a great choice for DTI secretary! I look forward to working with him to build out hybrid value chains and to achieve growth that is truly inclusive.
Jose EB Antonio: I wish the new DTI secretary all the best. Through his department, the government can help the MSME group by implementing strategic plans that showcase specific areas where our industries have the competitive advantage, and match the demand to the entrepreneurs’ resources and skills. It’s very important to identify our strong sectors, whether it’s in food processing, agriculture or others, and give strategic focus on these sectors. Let’s support our strong sectors with strong potential over weaker sectors that have less chance in this real world of business, such as manufacturing.
Sen. Bam Aquino: We have been allies with Mon Lopez in championing entrepreneurship in the Philippines and I have seen firsthand his dedication to developing our micro, small and medium enterprises — the sector crucial in achieving inclusive growth and beating poverty. Mon’s appointment is truly well deserved and we are elated that he will be given the opportunity to make an even bigger difference as DTI Secretary. Mon will be a big asset to the Duterte administration’s drive to boost the country’s economy and MSMEs.