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This has been a busy week for Go Negosyo. Apart from gearing up for the flurry of public events lined up for the year, we have started laying the groundwork for projects that, with hope, will have tremendous benefit for our country’s MSMEs.
I am glad that the work we have done for the last 17 years continues to bear fruit. The recent survey by our friends at OCTA Research, which I shared recently, found that a big percentage of Filipinos are willing to go into business, and that more than half of the respondents are aware of the advocacy that I and the Go Negosyo team have been promoting.
OCTA’s survey, which was conducted last October, showed that 81 percent of the respondents want to become entrepreneurs, granting that they have enough knowledge on how to go about it. Interestingly, this was true across socioeconomic classes, from AB up to E.
More than half were aware of the work that I do at Go Negosyo, which they saw as either a partner or a supporter of small businesses. It is clear that Go Negosyo and its push for an entrepreneurial mindset has had an impact. Since 2005, Go Negosyo has promoted entrepreneurship as a way for Filipinos to lift themselves out of poverty. Over the years, we developed many platforms where we could give access to mentoring, markets and money, the three pillars which we believe are essential to successful entrepreneurship.
The people who volunteered their time to become mentors at Go Negosyo have everything to do with the success of our efforts. Last year, since resuming in-person sessions of our free mentoring event 3M on Wheels, we have already conducted six events, attracting thousands of attendees from all walks of life. These budding entrepreneurs sought the guidance and mentorship from the seasoned entrepreneurs and businessmen who generously volunteered their time to join the event.
Judging from the findings of OCTA Research, we can only expect more Filipinos to flock to the entrepreneurship events we have lined up this year. This is why, early this week, I sought the help of the NCR presidents and area heads of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) to encourage more of their members to join us as mentors at the free mentoring sessions we conduct for our active and aspiring entrepreneurs.
The fit would be perfect. PCCI members have already proven themselves in their respective businesses, and having had first-hand experience of what it’s like to start a business and successfully run it, they possess valuable insight into the real-world problems that await aspiring entrepreneurs.
As one of our veteran mentors, PCCI NCR AVP Tess Ngan Tian shared that guiding others to achieve success is worth the time and effort. She herself keeps in touch with her former mentees to see how they are doing and she can attest that the psychic reward of seeing them doing well is immeasurable. She correctly pointed out that if we are to provide jobs and help the economy, we need to build businesses.
Although a lot of our MSEs are still part of the underground economy, we discovered during our events that many are willing to comply with regulatory requirements. In fact, the most common questions our mentors receive during our free mentoring sessions have to do with cash flow management, taxation, and even how to file business permits. We want to help them and make them part of the taxable economy. Some of our local government units (LGUs) have made ease of doing business a priority, and I believe this is a step in the right direction. We must help the micro become small, the small become medium, and hopefully, with enough mentoring, access to markets and capital, the medium enterprises become large corporations.
With hope, we can parlay the idea of this kind of big-brother cooperation to the agriculture sector, which is exactly what we plan for our Kapatid Angat Lahat for Agriculture Program, or KALAP. At the center of it are big companies integrating micro farmers into their value chain, and in the process transferring knowledge, enabling them to scale up and eventually grow their businesses.
We have already taken the initial steps to give this program shape, starting with finding successful models to help transform sectors of agriculture within their communities. Lionheart Farms was able to successfully do it for the coconut farmers of Palawan, while Universal Leaf did it for the tobacco industry in Ilocos.
These transformative models give us hope that we can also improve the system in other important sectors like sugar, rice, and corn, not only in raising farm productivity, but also in creating inclusive systems that will leave no farmer behind.
A common element in the success of the Palawan and Ilocos models is the cooperation of the LGU. That is why I was so thankful for the support of DILG Sec. Benhur Abalos, who committed the cooperation of the department to KALAP. Having worked with Sec. Benhur during the pandemic, I am quite confident that he can rally the LGUs to support the program, much in the same way that he united the Metro Manila mayors to make that difficult decision to lock down back in August 2021 to help stop the spread of the deadly Delta variant of COVID-19.
We have many big-brother companies working with crops like coffee, cacao, and chicken, that have expressed their willingness to help our micro farmers by integrating them into their value chain. As it gains momentum, we hope to encourage more big-brother companies and more LGUs to join KALAP.
There are about 26 million Filipinos still living in poverty, unable to meet their basic food and non-food needs. This represents nearly a fourth of our entire population, and many of them can be found in the agriculture sector. One can only imagine how much impact we can make, how many jobs we can create, if only we equip our farmers with what they need so they can become entrepreneurs.