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When Go Negosyo began promoting the entrepreneurial mindset among Filipinos in 2005, I heard someone was asking around: â€œIs Joey trying to enter politics?â€ I find it quite funny, because it was nowhere near the truth. But as we approach our eighth year, the importance of getting the support of other sectors such as the government in helping aspiring negosyantes is starting to become obvious. These people, along with the existing micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs, need better laws to help them maximize their potential, especially today that foreign investors trust us more.
No, I am not running for public office. But I know a couple of individuals who are, and they have been supporting Go Negosyo since day one. Let me take this opportunity to introduce them and to show how they were able to help Filipinos defeat poverty, one negosyante at a time.
Inspired by her first customer
Anybody who is into business will definitely remember how hard it is to make the first sale, and Cynthia Villar is no exception. She was a former financial analyst and a college instructor, having graduated from the University of the Philippines with a degree in Business Administration. After getting married to Manny, she began helping him in his entrepreneurial ventures. She might have mastered the theories of business when she completed her MBA, but applying it in real life is a different story. After talking to many potential clients, a woman whose husband is working in the Middle East trusted Vista Land to build their home.
Perhaps this was the inspiration why Cynthia chose to prioritize OFWs when she and Manny organized the Villar Foundation in 1992. Since then, they have implemented programs for OFWs, the environment, health, and the youth. But most of all, it was her personal advocacy to teach entrepreneurship among the poorest Filipinos. Cynthia believed that dole-outs will not sustain a family, so the foundation started doing â€œCaravan Kaalamanâ€ that teaches housewives and OSYs basic skills such as kakanin-making, basket and slippers-making, and the like, to help them start their own microenterprise and earn for their families.
When Go Negosyo started, Cynthia and I began meeting to collaborate on projects. We started by sending speakers to their livelihood seminars, and they would send their beneficiaries to our summits and Negosems in return. In 2011, we both decided to take our partnership a level higher. We decided to hold the OFW and Family Summit, where an overwhelming number of participants from the OFW community came. This prompted us to continue working together. Our collaboration has allowed us to reach more Filipinos and encourage them that entrepreneurship is the way to success.
A Pioneer in social entrepreneurship
Another individual who have been supporting the Go Negosyo advocacy is Bam Aquino. I have featured him numerous times in the past, especially when he became the host of Go Negosyoâ€™s TV show SME GO!: Powered by Go Negosyo. Prior to his involvement with us, he used to work in a foundation, and then in the government sector under the National Youth Commission.
In 2007, Bam felt the need to engage in an activity that will directly create an impact in the lives of Filipinos. He and his friend Mark Ruiz started Hapinoy, a program that helps women who are members of microfinance institutions to sustain their businesses better. Before Hapinoy came, these stay-at-home-mothers who run small sari-sari stores do not seem to expand, even if the potential is big. Bam and Mark trained the nanays to spot other business opportunities, monitor the flow of their goods, and improve their attitude towards their negosyo. As a result, these mothers found a renewed sense of confidence, and are now viewing their sari-sari stores as a potential vehicle for them to attain their dreams.
The success of Hapinoy did not go unnoticed. Aside from awarding its founders as one of our Inspiring Young Entrepreneurs in 2009, Go Negosyo included Hapinoyâ€™s story in one of our books. From doing simple one-hour talks and forum sessions at our caravans, Bam extended his help to the advocacy as host of our TV show. He travelled across provinces to feature remarkable enterprises and show that now is indeed time to start a negosyo.
At the time when the country is starting to get back up on its feet, we needed more entrepreneurs to sustain this growth. We needed people in the government who truly believe in the advocacy and has proven their support even if they are not in public office. Let us not choose our next leaders based on their popularity. Rather, let us look back and see what they have done to improve the lives of Filipinos.