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The Christmas fever is definitely in the air, with parties that my wife and I have to attend almost every night. These gatherings are hosted by many of our partners and advocates who have supported the Go Negosyo advocacy for the past seven years, and accepting their invitation is a way for me to show my appreciation for them. In one of our gatherings just before the Pacman-Marquez fight, my group of friends, who are all Pacman fans, decided to place a cheap bet among ourselves just for fun, with the loser paying for dinner. I took the side of Marquez — not that I am anti-Pacman, but I felt that his advisers did not do the right thing in having him take a fourth fight against Marquez. To me, Pacman had more to lose and nothing to gain from the fight, plus the fact that he had beaten Marquez twice. Maybe the fight purse is tempting, and this is the reason why he was convinced to do it, despite the risk being too high. Instead of being happy that I won a dinner bet, I felt sad that he lost, just like the millions of Filipinos who watched him last weekend.
Pacman, whom I met when he signed up to be an endorser of one of our products, has achieved a lot and is truly an inspiration to many Filipinos. And as proof of his success, he was able to buy a new home in Forbes Park, and he will be moving in as soon as he arrives back from the US. But sometimes, with all the sudden fame and wealth, one really has to have good advisers who will look at Pacquiao’s future with good intentions, and not where they think they can make the biggest buck. To me, that fourth fight was not necessary and is a bad advice from his advisers.
Like Pacman, we have all faced situations like this in life, but in different ways and levels. For us entrepreneurs and investors, knowing when to cash out on an investment is a risk. There is a need to balance greed with fear. When things go so well, greed takes over; but then things go so bad, excessive fear comes to play. Also, one must know when to roll the dice and when to stop. Injap Sia, who is the founder of Mang Inasal, knew when it was time to cash out, but he did so with care. He was able to cash out at close to five billion pesos, and is now paying it forward by being a Go Negosyo advocate. A Cebuano entrepreneur, Justin Uy of Profoods, had a similar story to that of Manny Pacquiao. His was truly a rags-to-riches story, and today he is the biggest exporter of dried mangoes and the owner of Imperial, the largest hotel in Mactan, Cebu. I hope that this time, Pacman realizes the importance of getting sound advice, whether he decides to retire or go back in the ring.
Yesterday, we forged our partnership with Senator Kiko Pangilinan with the signing of an agreement for the Sagip Saka project to promote agri-entrepreneurship. For us to come closer to solving poverty, which is the country’s biggest problem, we need to help the farmers move up the ladder and become agripreneurs. A big part of the country is agricultural land, and this is the sector that I feel we should focus on. During the ceremony, which was held at the Manila Polo Club, we announced the launch of the first agri-entrep book in February, and Sen. Kiko, Justin Uy, and Esther Vibal of Vibal Publishing expressed their support for the project. On top of the book, a series of agripreneur caravans will be conducted in major areas in the Philippines. We will be bringing with us the entrepreneurs featured in the Go Negosyo books, as well as the successful agripreneurs who, through the Sagip-Saka program, can now share their business models with others.
Today, we will be at another agreement signing, but this time it will be between Go Negosyo, Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa, DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman, and TESDA director general Joel Villanueva. We will formally launch the Negosyo Mo, Bukas Ko (NMBK), a program that gives a chance for the out-of-school youth (OSYs) to be employed and to save up, to finish school. Education is sometimes the only thing that a young person can be proud of, and our goal is to have more young people become assured and feel that they are capable of achieving greater heights because they are able to get a college degree.
We have helped around 140 OSYs, and the number is still growing. The key is to empower them through employment and education, but before we deploy them out to be hired with our partner enterprises, the OSYs had to undergo the process of values formation training which prepares them to face different work environments. We are really happy with the initial turnout of support from the Go Negosyo entrepreneur community who have offered resources for the project to run, with some of them even taking in the kids in their negosyos like Shopwise, French Baker, Potato Corner, Mekeni, Fiorgellato, Solarex, Reyes Haircutters, RFM, and Kettle Korn. Additional companies who are also helping out are SM Supermalls, Shell Philippines, PR Gaz, Binalot, Mr. Donut, Pancake House, and MD Juan and Centro Manufacturing Corporation.
The role that the entrepreneurs play in the success of this project is very crucial, as they will be the gate of OSYs between hopelessness and success. One story of an NMBK participant that I recently featured in my other column is really inspiring. Her name is Rhegene Garcia from Novaliches. She was the second among seven children and is the eldest girl. Her dream was to be a negosyante who owns a successful chain of restaurants in the country, but her poverty is hindering her from fulfilling her dreams. What is worse is that because her older brother needed money to pay placement fees for him to work abroad, she had to give up schooling. This is where NMBK came in. Rhegene underwent personality training, and with the support of Go Negosyo advocate Jo Magsaysay, she is now working at a Potato Corner branch in Quezon City where her salary will allow her to continue her education. What is more interesting is that for many years, she had to endure decayed teeth. Through NMBK, she was able to get a set of dentures which boosted her confidence even further.
There are a lot of OSYs like Rhegene, and we hope to help people like her to grab their chance and rise up from poverty. This is really possible with the help of entrepreneurs and negosyo advocates, which we hope would increase in number soon.