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It’s barely two weeks before Christmas and GoNegosyo has continued to be very busy in spreading the spirit of entrepreneurship this yuletide season. Just last week, we had the GoNegosyo Go Rotary Forum at the Manila Hotel which was a tremendous success. The District Convention this year was headed by the very entrepreneurial CEO of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), Butch Francisco. The Fiesta Pavilion was packed with close to 1,000 Rotarians who listened to Nanay Coring of National Bookstore, Vivienne Tan of Entrepreneurs School of Asia, celebrity entrepreneur Paolo Bediones, Rotary governor Elect Renato Magadia, PAGCOR president Rafael Butch Francisco, and myself. Cito Beltran did his usual lively and interesting moderation of the forum.
The discussion covered basically the inspiring stories of the guests in putting up their respective businesses, the challenges they went through and important learnings. Paolo talked about how he lost P8 million at the start of his venture due to aggressiveness and over trusting of some people which according to him, was a “very expensive tuition fee.” But, due to his creativity and sheer determination, Paolo was still able to recover and develop even newer business ventures like the I-Tech Phils., which not only handles the marketing and advertising of X1R (engine treatment oil), but has also expanded into a network marketing and IT solutions company. Paolo is a good example of how a celebrity can serve as a role model for others to follow. He believes that people in the entertainment industry must learn to invest their earnings wisely since their popularity may not be forever.
Vivienne, on the other hand, was able to expound on why she chose to focus her school on entrepreneurship, and how she decided to do it on her own rather than take the easier path of joining her father’s successful conglomerate. The Entrepreneurs School of Asia is totally in synch with what GoNegosyo stands for, and it is admirable for Vivienne to be driven as well in doing something to help alleviate poverty in the country by having her school focused in teaching entrepreneurs. She also mentioned that their students also offer free assistance to the urban poor by putting up their own business. This for her is not only a chance to help out the community to guide them in managing their business but it also teaches her students to realize and appreciate the value of every money spent or earned since they are working with very limited capital.
Nanay Coring also talked about the challenges she had to face like the fire that gutted their store in Escolta during the early years of National Bookstore in the 1950’s and just recently, their new store in Legaspi which upon three weeks of operation was destroyed by the typhoon. Entreps like her just knew how to deal with challenges and rise above those trials. She also emphasized that hard work, perseverance and attention to detail, are the qualities that every entrep should have.
Successful entrep Butch Francisco, on the other hand, talked about his experience when he was asked to head PAGCOR which is one of the biggest revenue generators among government corporations. As we say, being an entrepreneur in a structured organization is what we call an intrapreneur and Butch was able to blend entrepreneurship and professionalism in running this corporation.
Renato Magadia shows that is never too late to be an entrepreneur and that one should use his expertise, in his case acquiring properties, in succeeding in business. He was the acquisitions manager and CEO of Zuellig for many years until striking it on his own as he acquired big corporations like the Waterfront Group, Metro Alliance, Acesite Philippines and Mabuhay Vinyl Corp.
The GoNegosyo for OFWs and balikbayans will be launched tomorrow, Dec. 15, and will run till Dec. 17 in Market! Market! Trade Halls A & B. One of the highlights of the event will be the awarding of the Most Inspiring OFW Entrepreneurs on Dec. 16. Two of the awardees will be flying from Europe to personally accept their award. First on the list is Consuelo Valencia, the Filipina millionaire who is now based in London. Consuelo started out as a domestic helper and thought of providing assistance Filipinos in sending their money back home thru a door-to-door cash delivery service. Thru her hard work and excellent networking skills, she was able to put up her own remittance service called Farochilen Group of Companies. There is also Norma Macalindong who had 11 children and did not even finish high school when she went overseas. Her job as domestic helper was not sufficient to provide for her children so she sold bags, food and other products in tram stations during her free time. She strived to finish her formal education in Italy knowing that it was the only way she can legalize her business. Her hard work paid off upon earning her high school degree and getting clearance to officially put up her own retail store.
We also have awardees that put up their own business here in the Philippines. First on the list is Engr. Michael Abubakar from Sulu. Along with his wife, Engr. Abubakar is among the pioneer professional Overseas Contract Workers who went to Saudi Arabia. After working for 23 years there, he came back to the Philippines for good and ventured into the real-estate business. He is now the general manager of M. Abubakar Consolidated Engineering (MACE) which builds decent and affordable homes for the First Sulu Estate Subdivision and has been helping the local community through various infrastructure projects. There is also Letecia Marrero from the Mt. Province, a 69-year old lady who used to be a dressmaker and sari-sari store owner before working overseas. She now owns a garden resort in the Mt. Province which has three swimming pools, a lawn tennis court, picnic cottages and tables, a playground and a convenience store. She also owns a dry goods store and a banana plantation and has also been very active in helping out their community ever since she came back to the Philippines. We also have Dr. Eugenio Dayag from Tuguegarao who worked as a medical officer for a stevedoring company. He now owns a cattle ranch along with hectares of rice lands, sugarcane and cassava plantations. Apart from supplying jobs to his community thru his various businesses, he also provides medical assistance as the City Health Officer of Tuguegarao City.
It is about time we recognize the accomplishments of these notable individuals so that they may inspire their fellow OFWs and balikbayans to not only persevere in overcoming the hardships of working overseas, but to also invest their hard-earned money to sustainable business ventures.
Apart from the awarding the OFWs and balikbayans, we will also give an award for the Most Inspiring Maritime Service Provider/Entrepreneur. This year’s recipient is Mr. Carlos Salinas, president of the Philippine Transmarine Carriers Inc. for his outstanding achievements and contributions to the development of the Philippine maritime industry particularly the Philippine overseas sector. We will also give a special award to the Philippine Association of Service Exporters Inc. (PASEI) for their active involvement in promoting the professionalization of the overseas employment industry and protecting the rights and welfare of its stakeholders. President Arroyo will personally give out the awards and will also take part in a short forum with the awardees and representatives from various government and non-government organizations that have programs related to the OFWs and balikbayans.
I am inviting everyone to go to Market! Market! Trade Halls A & B tomorrow till Sunday to participate in the GoNegosyo Para sa OFWs and balikbayans. Admission is free so bring everyone you know even if they’re not OFWs or balikbayans. We will have very interesting and informative forums and booth exhibits that should give everyone exciting business ideas. There will be film showings, game shows and celebrity guest appearances. Let’s all participate in this festive event for the new breed of heroes of this country – the OFWs and balikbayans. GoNegosyo!