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The Go Negosyo advocacy has gone this far because of the many entrepreneurs who have felt the need to give back and help others achieve their dreams.
Thousands of microentrepreneurs just dream of alleviating themselves from poverty. Many of them are forced to have a negosyo because they have to survive. Most of them also hardly completed their education and used little or no capital at all.
Those who have succeeded found a formula for success. This time, they want to share this formula and inspire others. Here are the stories of three entrepreneurs who are Go Negosyo trustees. They share the vision of Go Negosyo, as they also share their success formula with others.
“When I was young, my dream was simple — ang magkaroon ng sariling jeep. Little did I know that I would own a fleet of Mercedes — for sale!” shares Felix Ang, president of CATS Motors, Inc., the Philippine general distributor of Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep.
Born into a working-class Filipino-Chinese family, Felix was exposed to running a business early. His father, who worked as a manager in a textile shop, was one of his inspirations. In high school, Felix tried to balance his studies and work. But after a year of working for an auto parts company, he found his passion for cars. At 18, he and his brother put up their own car accessories business, which became the start of his entrepreneurial journey.
Felix is the first to admit that not finishing school has its downside, but it was a risk he had to take to succeed. “An entrepreneur must always be willing to take risks and must know how to manage it,” Felix says. He admits that if he didn’t take risks then, he definitely would not be where he is now. He also believes that an entrepreneur must have a vision and must always stay focused on a goal. His vision has evolved as he expanded his negosyo. Now he aims to stay as a key player in the automotive field.
As Felix expands his business, he strives to attract foreign investors and generate more employment for the country. He actively participates in social initiatives and in promoting entrepreneurship to fellow Filipinos. Felix hopes that his story will inspire others to start their own negosyo, not to only for the improvement of their lives but also for the growth of the nation.
Felix’s advice to those who want to start a business: “You have to know when to grab an opportunity and know when to shift when your business has reached its sunset. Be ready for a small change in five years and a big change in 10.” He also urges aspiring entrepreneurs to not be afraid of failure. “Just always be one step ahead of your competitors and always stay focused,” he suggests.
Another entrepreneur who has inspired many because of her tagumpay in business and advocacies is Rosalind Wee, founder of Marine Resources Development Corp. Her company is one of the leading producers and exporters of carrageenan, which is a stabilizing or thickening agent widely used in food products like meat, dairy, and beverages.
Rosalind’s training as an entrepreneur started when she was just a little girl in Jolo. She helped her parents run their sari-sari store. It was her mother who taught her the foundation of what she knows in running a negosyo. “I’ve learned the technique of business — simple accounting — through my mother,” she recalls.
“Iba talaga ang nanay. Importante ang babae sa buong mundo. I’m very happy that now, they’re focusing on women because they are really the ones who teach children what they will become in the future,” said Rosalind. Being a mother herself, she’s working on helping mothers adopt a positive mindset towards life and business.
Rosalind’s service to the community is her way of giving back. Twenty years ago when their business was already accepted in the industry, Rosalind’s eyes were opened to what was important in life when she lost 75 percent of her eyesight due to a brain tumor operation. “I shifted my paradigm in life. I asked myself what money is for.” She explains, “When I had full vision, I couldn’t see that but now I’m very focused on giving back to society.”
In recognition of her humanitarian work, she was honored with the Pearl S. Buck Woman of the Year award for 2009. She is the third Filipina who’s received the award that recognizes women who have devoted their lives and work to compassion, care for children and promoting a positive vision of the world.
Rosalind goes all over the Philippines with the Philippine Federation of Local Councils of Women to educate them about negosyo. “What I’m doing now is teach the Filipino people to go into business, encouraging them to be their own boss.” She adds, “But you can’t force people. It has to come naturally. That’s why we’re teaching the mothers na mag-negosyo, so it’s automatically passed on to their children.”
Her advice to those starting: “Everything starts from small. Just stay positive in life. Pag sinabing kaya, kaya talaga. And always be in love with your business. I want people to be conscious that the times are changing but they can do something. Pwede silang mag-negosyo.”
Prudencio Garcia is recognized in the world of business as the president of Mekeni Food Corporation, one of the most trusted names in the meat-processing industry in the Philippines. But to his kababayans in Porac, Pampanga, he is a leader in helping their community.
To Pruds and the Garcia family, Mekeni is not just a business. It is a noble cause they started after Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991. Putting up a negosyo was their way of helping their neighbors in Balubad who were greatly affected by the calamity. In 1993, all five brothers, who were already working abroad, responded to their father’s plea to come back home and help those who are really in need. They put up a small plant right in their own backyard. Others called them fools at that time, but still they were able provide employment to more than 40 neighbors.
“We were moved by our father’s challenge to come out of our comfort zones if we were serious about helping the people. Our parents always told us that you don’t only live by yourself. You have to take care of other people,” said Pruds.
Pruds knew there was something special about Mekeni because it thrived even amid the lahar threat. But just when things were starting to run smoothly, their company was hit by greater challenges like foot-and-mouth disease in 1996. At that time, Pruds and his brothers almost gave up, but they always went back to the reason why they started their business — and that is to help their community.
Pruds wants to share what his father made them realize during difficult times. “When you go into business, you should have a good reason to do business. Kapag pera lang ang pinagusapan, later on, babagsak. It’s not only for you and your family. It’s for your bigger family, the community.”
He adds, “An entrepreneur must also have discipline. One must focus on opportunities and continue going higher. Don’t stop at your comfort zone.”
Today, Mekeni has 1,200 employees and it has been awarded the Best Meat Processing Plant in the “AAA” Category for three consecutive years in the Philippines. “God made the plan for us and God made it happen,” he exclaimed.
As a way of giving back, Pruds devotes time to inspiring others and in helping build communities. “Ang goal ko is to inspire others to go into business and keep a positive attitude.” He notes, “It’s payback time. It’s my turn to inspire others in gratitude to those people who inspired us before.”
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or my Joey Concepcion Facebook account. Visit www.gonegosyo.net. Watch the top-rating entrep show Go Negosyo: Kaya Mo! on QTV every Saturday and Sunday at 8-8:30 a.m., with replays on NBN every Tuesday from 9:15-10:15 p.m. Get daily Go Negosyo Text Tips on your mobile phone by sending GONEGO to 2910.