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The theme of this year’s ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ABIS) in Vientiane, Laos, of which I had the privilege of attending, is “Operationalizing AEC – Turning Vision into Reality.” ABIS is ASEAN’s premier annual business and investment event and is currently hosted by Laos.
AEC, or ASEAN Economic Cooperation, is an ongoing concern that is close to my father’s heart. Aside from being known for NAMFREL, I can still remember my dad JoeCon being active in the ASEAN Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASEAN-CCI). He was named founding chairman of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) Philippines, with Miguel Varela and Rose Teodoro as fellow council members. This was his passion and many of the council members are his good friends. He was one of the senior members in the council. I am glad to have the same passion that my dad had.
During the summit, I was appointed as the new chair for the ASEAN-BAC Philippines. I am honored. This is a big role to take on, but I am willing and look forward to the things we can do for the country. Next year, the Philippines will host the ASEAN Summit to be led by President Rodrigo Duterte who has been recognized by the regional leaders for his political will. He was warmly received and recognized by the ASEAN heads of government.
One of the highlights to the ABIS is the ASEAN Business Awards which was launched in 2007 to “give recognition to companies that have contributed to the growth and prosperity of the ASEAN economy.”.They also recognized ASEAN Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that have the potential to grow globally.
I am glad to witness the gala night which recognizes Philippine entrepreneurs and brands. In fact, we won the most number of awards from 80 companies that competed. The panelists that judged the event came from the 10 ASEAN countries and ASEAN Business Awards partner KPMG.
Three Philippine companies were awarded with the AEC Priority Integration Sector Excellence Award and they are: EMS Component Assembly (electronics category), Oryspa Spa Solutions (healthcare) and Anthill Fabric Gallery (textile).
Oryspa Spa Solutions is headed by Go Negosyo advocate and entrepreneur-mentor Sherill Quintana. She has one of the inspiring stories. She started with a small company that specializes in aromatherapy, selling candles and spa products. Oryspa Spa Solutions introduced the use of rice bran or ‘bran’ in personal care products. Today, Sherill and her passion has led her to Singapore as its first international market.
Anthill Fabric Gallery is also an awardee. The social enterprise firm that showcases the Philippine weaving tradition. Anthill stands for Alternative Nest and Trading Hub for Indigenous/Ingenious Little Livelihood seekers. Its founder, Anya Lim, strives to fulfill its mission of keeping traditional Filipino craftsmanship alive by tapping three different indigenous communities: The Abra weaving community, Daraghuyan-Bukidnon tribe and the home community in Cebu. Anya is one of Go Negosyo’s Innovative Young Entrepreneurs in 2014.
Both Sherill and Anya are part of the latest book of Go Negosyo – Inspiring Stories of 55 Women Entrepreneurs.
Aside from them, Sunlight Foods (employment category), Global Foods Solution (growth) and Jewel Collection Manufacturing Co. (innovation) won the SME Excellence Awards. Zeenoh Inc., got the Best Innovative SME Award.
Other Philippine companies that are runners up were Sanitary Care Products Asia, and Manila Catering Services (both for employment), Cater King (innovation) and Manila Catering Services (corporate social responsibility).
I must say that exciting times for entrepreneurship are ahead of us, most especially with the Philippines soon to be the ASEAN-BAC chair next year. With the chairmanship of the Philippines in the ASEAN and ASEAN-BAC, we can look forward to a stronger partnership of the private and public sector in the ASEAN region that will support the business sector to step up to a global level.
We did well in hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) last year, and we should do the same next year as we host ASEAN Summit 2017. We shall integrate all efforts to know the best practices in MSME development, among other things. Tessie Sy-Coson and George Barcelon are also part of the ASEAN-BAC Philippines and they too will play a very big role, especially Tessie who has been ASEAN-BAC Philippine chair for the past six years. And of course, George who will have the backing of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. We hope the entire Go Negosyo community will support the event.