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People have asked me what motivated me to start an entrepreneurship movement. Even before I assumed a presidential advisory role on entrepreneurship about nine years ago, which was a pro bono post, my vision has been to create enterprising Filipinos as the way to fight poverty.
During that time, people thought I was motivated to run for a political office. I always said politics and business do not really mix well. I have always shunned even the idea of Go Negosyo turning into a partylist. My formula was to support those running for the Senate that had the same vision and passion in creating a nation of enterprising Filipinos to fight poverty. This was the only formula that works as seen in many countries, creating an entrepreneurial nation. There was no need for me to aim for a public office as there are more deserving men and women who share the same vision as we do.
Sen. Bam Aquino is one of them, a Go Negosyo advocate, young and full of energy. Bam together with other senators like Cynthia Villar, Grace Poe, Sonny Angara, Miriam Santiago and Ralph Recto share this vision. It is time our legislators are more sympathetic toward the needs of our micro and small negosyantes who employ 70 percent of the workforce.
Before joining the Senate, Bam has been a Go Negosyo advocate attending a number of our summits specially the youth entrepreneurship summits held all over the country. He was also our Go Negosyo TV host for a few years in our program SME Go, shown in GMA News TV, and PTV 4.
Last Friday, we had a great interview with Sen. Bam in our Go Negosyo sa Radyo at dzRH. Mon Lopez, executive director of Go Negosyo, co- hosts the radio program every Friday. Even before becoming a senator, Bam has been very active in social entrepreneurship, being one of the founders of Microventures Inc. and the Hapinoy Program, and adviser to many social ventures. In the interview, you can sense his passion in the field of entrepreneurship development, as he explained the many initiatives at the Senate and bills filed that will support the SMEâ€™s.
Bam noted that it was good he was an entrepreneur prior to joining the Senate as he could feel for the SMEs, and he is more aware of what the structural or policy challenges are. He filed the Go Negosyo bill which will institutionalize the kind of business support and mentoring that SMEs need. It is like making the services of Go Negosyo present in many areas all the time. The DTI will set-up with the LGUs the negosyo Centers in all provinces and key cities around the country so negosyo service is made more accessible to over 100 areas.
Aside from negosyo mentorship, it will also serve as a one-stop shop for securing all the DTI and other agenciesâ€™ business permits, including those issued by the local government and BIR. There will be representatives from the micro-finance institutions that can assist in providing capital.
We in Go Negosyo will definitely extend many of our multi-media training materials on entrepreneurship as well as our network of mentors and entrepreneurs to help in providing the needed advise to those in need. The bill has passed third reading at the Senate and will now await the passing of the House version which is being led by Representatives Mark Villar and Neil Montejo.
Sen. Bam also outlined the other bills on entrepreneurship that he is pushing for: on social entrepreneurship, youth entrepreneurship, micro finance bill and they are now studying a Start-Up bill that will provide certain incentives for small start-ups, which is a program and policy in countries like Singapore. Bam also expressed support to another bill, introduced by Sen. Cynthia Villar that will require a full entrepreneurship subject at the high school level.
Another emerging good business model Bam cited is referred to as inclusive business, which is a topic we also covered before in this column. It is basically the effort of a company to intentionally increase the sourcing of their raw materials or inputs from local communities, which eventually will give continuous market and economic opportunities to those areas.
For instance, the biggest fast food chain together with private NGOs formed the Farmers Entrepreneurship Program where Kalasag farmers in Nueva Ecija provide the supply of onions for the fastfood company. Another example is our Selecta ice cream which encouraged a farmer community in Mindanao to supply its purple yam (ube) requirements as an ingredient.
The training and consistent purchases from farmer groups allowed the communities to improve further their efficiencies and income, elevating the standard of living of the families in the area. We encourage all companies to try to develop a similar inclusive value chain in their operations to be able to not only improve the companiesâ€™ supply chain and cost structures, but help build communities.
Sen. Bam Aquino said that if the economy of an area is doing well, positive effects follow. The way to achieve this is through proper orientation and education of the producers, and the role of social entrepreneurs is to form and mobilize those farming communities or micro entrepreneurs, train them, bridge connections between them and the buying companies. That is building a sustainable market linkage.
I believe the initiatives of Sen. Bam clearly focus on how he can help the micro and SMEs in the country. He knows the importance of policy and program interventions, from government and private organizations like Go Negosyo, that will address the critical factors of money-market-mentor needed to elevate entrepreneurship pursuits and that only through empowering the Filipinos with the right mindset, the needed skills and entrepreneurial knowhow, can Filipinos really fight poverty and move up in life.