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This column comes out on a day when we just want to push back time. My daughter Isabella is getting older, and she loves and looks forward to her birthday as she wants to be able to do the things her sisters, who are very much older, do. For us, it reminds us of our mortality and how much time we have left to pursue our dreams, passions, and most of all our calling in life.
When I was young, I really wanted to be the cape crusader, Batman. My father, Joecon, would buy me all of Batman’s gadgets. My father also had his passion to serve even while he was building our company. He was too civic-minded and his legacy will be Namfrel, the organization that gave courage to Filipinos to fight for democracy through honest and peaceful elections, and that as citizens we had to be part of that transformation – from dictatorship to real democracy.
As I look back, I take the inspiration from my father. Without really planning it, all these things have come to be. I find myself in an organization that is helping entrepreneurs who I believe are the country’s driving force that will help end poverty.
The fight to end or reduce the level of poverty in our country starts with instilling the right mindset to all Filipinos. It is poverty that can drive one’s passion to succeed for a better life, but it also sometimes draws into an attitude of “Bahala Na” or blind faith and then blame others for their situation.
As you can see, there are many Filipinos who have taken the path of working overseas because they want a better life for their family, unfortunately it involves a lot of sacrifice like not being able to be with the family. There are those who are unable to move abroad and work because they are farmers tilling the land they inherited or running their own businesses. Going abroad to work should not be the only option.
The attitude – “It’s time for me to help give a bright future”, is the attitude that many who want to succeed in life must have.
This is how Go Negosyo came to be. Its purpose was to give hope to those who have chosen a different path. For many years, Go Negosyo has been working with the DTI to complement its efforts in helping micro and small entrepreneurs. We know DTI also looks at large companies, who bring in the investments, employment and income contribution to the GDP. But it has equally strong efforts in helping the micro and small entrepreneurs. With our outgoing executive director Mon Lopez joining DTI, we can expect greater push in widening the reach of the support to promote entrepreneurship especially in the countryside. More programs that will enhance access to training and mentorship, market, value chain links to big enterprises, equipment and shared service facilities, shall be made. What Go Negosyo is today at heart is what the Department of Trade and Industry will be.
When the Mentor Me Program was conceptualized months ago, we heard the concerns of many start-ups, aspiring, and micro and small enterprises and their need for guidance. They needed someone who would mentor them. The Mentor Me program is aimed at helping MSMEs scale up through coaching. Mentors will be the business owners, practitioners, and experts who are well-experienced, backed with years of entrepreneurial journey, equipped with knowledge and wisdom and can address the concerns and doubts of first-time entrepreneurs.
We are glad to have many institutional partners, aside from the Department of Trade and Industry and the office of Sen. Bam Aquino, who answered our call for mentors in different facets of entrepreneurship. We currently have more than 20 partners including the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the Association of Filipino Franchisers Inc. (AFFI), Philippine Franchise Association (PFA), PLDT-SMART SME Nation, and many more.
Last Sunday, we sealed a partnership with PCCI, to help in mentoring micro and small entrepreneurs. PCCI is the largest organization of all businesses and we can be assured the mentoring program will reach more MSMEs in different parts of the country as PCCI has hundreds of members from local chambers as well.
I met with their president George Barcelon a few months ago when we presented the Mentor Me program. During our discussion, we saw the shared vision of Go Negosyo and PCCI in mentoring and empowering the MSME sector.
With Mon Lopez as the next DTI chief, we are now welcoming former DTI undersecretary Merly Cruz to be Go Negosyo’s adviser for MSMEs. Her experience and expertise with the MSMEs will be of great supplement to the roll out of Go Negosyo programs, most especially in MSME development.
Apart from the signing ceremony, PCCI also hosted a dinner with their local and national officers, and members and with the incoming Cabinet members such as Secretaries-designate Carlos Dominguez of Finance, Ernesto Pernia of National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and Lopez of DTI.
Incoming DOF secretary Carlos Dominguez said that with the partnerships and greater collaboration with the private sector, the government allows members of the community to contribute as well to their programs. Incoming NEDA chief Ernesto Pernia shared that one of president-elect Duterte’s economic programs is for rural development which will help disperse development into the regions thus empowering the MSMEs in the provinces.
Go Negosyo also participated in the two-day consultative session called Sulong Pilipinas to get the various stakeholders’ views on president-elect Duterte’s 10-point socio-economic agenda. Merly and Go Negosyo’s special project consultant Vix Madlangbayan represented Go Negosyo in the forum.
Hopefully, with a much stronger partnership between the government and private institutions such as Go Negosyo, our country and people can truly achieve what we call a real inclusive growth.